Miami, Fla., Mar 23, 2013 (CNA) - If you met Jack McKeon and didn’t know who he was, you would think "practicing Catholic" first. Probably with enough poking and prodding you’d learn his baseball story.
Now 82 years old, McKeon made headlines when, in 2011, he became the second oldest manager in major league history as he was hired as the interim manager of the then-Florida Marlins, who he had guided to a World Series title in 2003, when he won his second National League Manager of the Year award.
The other time had been after the 1999 season, when he was managing the Cincinnati Reds, although they would fire him after the following season. And that leads to his testimony about his favorite saint.
“Saint Therese of the Little Flower is the prodigy of miracles in the Catholic Church and I’ve prayed to her and have seen examples of prayers answered,” McKeon explains. “In 2000 I got fired in Cincinnati and didn’t think my career was fulfilled, so I prayed to Saint Therese and asked if she could talk to the Child Jesus about my dream to manage, and thereafter I got the call to go manage Florida, and we won the World Series.”
“I was out in Sacramento last year (giving a speech). The guy who ran the event called me two weeks ago. He had a youngster at the banquet that heard me talk about Saint Therese and the power of prayer. This kid didn’t make the team and was down in the dumps and they wanted me to talk to him about the power of prayer, and I told him, ‘don’t give up, the good Lord has plans for you.’”
That’s not a surprising gesture or piece of advice considering that McKeon, when asked what advice he has for today’s student-athletes, says, “Pray. Put your trust in the Lord and ask him to help you become the best you can become, knowing that there’s going to be pitfalls, there’s going to be roadblocks along the way. But you’ve got to be persistent in practicing your faith. The good Lord gave each one of us a special talent and, in my case, athletics, but in other cases, music, business, and so on. And He expects us to take the maximum benefits from Him but put the faith and trust in Him that he’ll steer us to go in the right direction. Sometimes a door closes but another opens, but you have to treat Him fairly and follow His commandments.”
This devotion didn’t come just from winning a World Series or having his managing prayers after losing the Reds job. The foundation had been laid in his childhood.
“I grew up in a Catholic household. My mother and father preached going to church on a daily basis and practice our faith and put our faith in the Lord and go to daily Mass. And, I grew up in a Catholic school, so I had an advantage of getting encouragement not only from a Catholic family. And I even went on to Holy Cross and Seton Hall for college. Getting to appreciate going to Mass on a daily basis is something that I carried on.”
And when he says he carried it on, he means right into the heart of his years as a Major League Baseball manager, when there are the demands of a 162-game schedule that includes plenty of travel.
“It was no problem. I’ve been in the game a long time. I can probably tell you all the churches in the major leagues, where they are, their Mass times. It’s not a big deal. It’s a great inspiration to go to church early in the morning and then to the ballpark with a clean head and knowing that the good Lord is with you and helping you make the right decisions, and it’s uplifting.”
When McKeon would arrive at the ballpark he would bring his faith right along with him.
“Many of these guys were Catholic, so I’d get them to church and on the weekdays I’d alert them to Mass times, and chances were there’d be a cab at the hotel waiting to take us, if necessary. And that in itself was an example and helped those guys believe in me and a lot of guys would go daily with me. The good Lord wants you to set an example, so I’d show them my faith and they’d have faith in me.”
As a result, the ‘win now’ mandate from team owners that has reached a whole new realm was manageable for McKeon, whose managing career had also included stints in Kansas City, Oakland, and San Diego.
“I think, in my particular case, the fact of going to church everyday relieved that pressure. I let it roll off my back. Whatever I was doing was the good Lord’s wishes and He was going to guide me, direct me, and help me make a good decision.”
That approach has left McKeon grateful for the lasting impression it has left on people.
“I feel so proud when I get letters, and I see people all over this country, coming up and thanking me for some good example that I had set, talking to young kids or players or fans and setting the example to get them to realize that the power of prayer is tremendous.
“I feel like I’ve had an impact on people’s lives. I’ve been able to reach them by going to church and getting them to come back to church and go more frequently to church.”
He finishes the thought by instructing, “Be His ambassador here on earth.”
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.
London, England, Mar 23, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
About 250 pilgrims of all ages and backgrounds will spend Holy Week helping to carry a life-sized wooden cross to the historic English Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham.
“As we walk through the streets carrying the cross, thousands of people see us as we walk by. It serves as a reminder as to what Easter and Lent are really about,” Student Cross coordinator Angela Joyce told CNA March 22.
The pilgrims are divided into 11 groups, with six of them walking up to 130 miles during Holy Week from March 23-29. They will stay overnight in church and village halls. Another two groups will walk for fewer days and the remaining, family-centered groups, will walk only a short distances.
Groups will begin in Colchester, Epping, Oxford, Kettering, Leicester, and Keyworth Notts.
They will end at the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham in the east county of Norfolk, a major pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages.
Regarded as the site where the Virgin Mary appeared to a devout English woman in 1061, it was one of the largest pilgrimage destinations within the Church until the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s. A local resurgence of interest in pilgrimages in the 19th century revived the shrine's popularity.
Joyce called the modern pilgrimage this year an opportunity to “focus on what’s important in life.”
“Life isn’t easy, it isn’t meant to be easy. We all have our crosses to carry, our burdens to bear. The cross reminds us that we do not have to carry it alone. Christ carried the cross so that we could live.”
Joyce said she sees the pilgrimage as a “golden” way “to get my head out of the busyness of work and the day to day of life and to reflect on my life and spirituality.”
“With no responsibility other than to make sure that you put one foot in front of the other and keep going, it means you can take a step back and spend time with your fellow pilgrims and more importantly God,” she noted.
“There is a lot of time for reflection and prayer.”
Joyce said pilgrims have become her “family” throughout the year with many reunions and shared experiences that have strengthened their relationship.
In a March 20 announcement for the event, Student Cross referenced Pope Francis' recent call to Christians to be disciples of the Lord by acknowledging and professing the death and resurrection of Christ.
“When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord,” the Pope told cardinals during his first Mass as pontiff March 14.
Known as Britain's oldest annual pilgrimage, Student Cross began in 1948. Participants are not limited to students and Christians of all denominations, as well as non-Christians, take part in the event.
Washington D.C., Mar 23, 2013 (CNA) - The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recent support of “gay marriage” is drawing criticism from those who argue that it disregards evidence about the well-being of children of same-sex couples.
Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, noted that there are “at least four reviews or studies in peer-reviewed literature that contest the claim that children do equally well with same-sex parents.”
None of these studies were “mentioned by the American Academy of Pediatricians in their endorsement of gay marriage,” she wrote for National Review Online.
On March 21, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a statement entitled “Promoting the Well-Being of Children Whose Parents Are Gay or Lesbian,” as well as a report supporting same-sex “marriage” as a family structure that is beneficial for children.
Benjamin Siegel, chair of the organization’s Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, said that the academy “believes there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children.”
The press statement and report endorsed “gay marriage,” adoption by single parents and adoption by the gay partner of a child’s parent.
While advocating for these changes, Ellen Perrin, a co-author of the policy statement, said that the “updated policy reflects a natural progression in the Academy’s support for families.”
The statement said that research indicates “there is no cause-and-effect relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and children’s well-being, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics policy.”
Gallagher criticized the statement and its dismissal of studies finding that children raised by same-sex partners face disadvantages.
She said that the academy “cannot cite a single scientific study in a peer-reviewed journal showing children with gay parents are better off if their parents are considered legally married.”
“How serious are we about children’s well-being in this country?” she questioned.
Last summer, University of Texas sociology professor Mark Regnerus published one of the first studies based on a large, random and representative sample of children raised in different situations. It found that children raised by same-sex couples experienced less stability and faced more problems in a variety of areas than those raised by their biological mother and father.
Soon after it was released, the study was criticized as being limited and “anti-gay,” with accusations of ethical violations and scientific misconduct raised. However, an official inquiry conducted by the university rejected these charges, finding them to be unsubstantiated.
Regnerus said in an article for National Review Online that he was “neither surprised at the statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics endorsing gay marriage nor at its timing.”
“Whether the statement adequately captures the consensus of pediatricians across the country is, of course, unknown,” he added.
He cautioned that the science “on same-sex parenting remains comparatively new” and that the studies that do exist “foster skepticism about moving quickly or universally to deny children their right to a mom and a dad.”
“In the end, we all want children to thrive,” said Regnerus. “Many organizations and scholars assert that same-sex marriage is a step toward that end, ensuring household stability.”
“Others remain skeptical, and wonder whether this isn’t more about parents’ wishes than those of children.”
Lander, Wyo., Mar 23, 2013 (CNA) - Dr. Kevin Roberts, incoming president of Wyoming Catholic College, says he is “thrilled and humbled” to head a school with “supernatural joy” and a desire to be a leading force in Catholic higher education.
“Every single person there from a new student to a graduating student to a faculty member…is absolutely committed to honoring God’s will, to being devoted and dedicated to what is good, true and beautiful,” Roberts told CNA March 22.
He said the college shows a “tremendous passion” for the Catholic faith.
Wyoming Catholic College opened in 2007 in Lander, Wyo. It is based on a “Great Books” curriculum that examines the prominent written works of Western civilization in a Catholic environment. The college seeks to educate the mind, body and soul, and it has a unique outdoor leadership program that trains students in wilderness travel and backcountry skills as well as personal development, teamwork and decision making.
Its requirements also reflect Wyoming’s cowboy culture: college freshmen must take a horsemanship course.
The college announced the selection of Roberts as its next president on March 21.
Roberts said he has followed the college since its founding and many people inside and outside of Catholic higher education are aware of its mission.
“It is impressive that the college has earned a reputation so quickly in its history, and it is a good reputation,” he said. “They have really ‘planted the flag’ as one of the leaders in that segment of the Catholic education world.”
Roberts holds a doctorate in history from the University of Texas-Austin. He has taught at the university level and has published articles and books on American history. He is presently focused on the history of the Catholic Church in the U.S. and is writing a biography of Bishop John Carroll.
Seven years ago, he co-founded John Paul the Great Academy, a co-ed pre-kindergarten through 12th grade Catholic liberal arts school in Lafayette, La. He has served as co-director of the Cardinal Newman Institute for the New Evangelization, a project of the Catholic higher education group the Cardinal Newman Society.
Roberts said Wyoming Catholic College is a special place that every Christian should support.
“It is firmly ensconced in the New Evangelization,” he said.
In his view, about 90 percent of higher education is beset by “a secularism that is very dangerous for the future of western civilization.” The remaining colleges are firmly Christian and predominantly Catholic.
He praised the college for planting itself “in the trenches of the ‘culture war’” in higher education.
He said he hopes to take the college out of a defensive posture in these “trenches” and “really storm the field.” Despite the college’s small enrollment and rural location, he said, it can help alter the course of higher education “because of its commitment to fusing faith and reason.”
Roberts said his out-of-state connections will help with student recruitment and fundraising and help raise the college’s national stature.
He added that he largely intends to stay on the course set by the college’s founding president, Father Robert Cook, as it moves to its permanent campus on a ranch south of Lander. He will also oversee the accreditation process, which has already begun its initial phase.
Roberts praised Fr. Cook as a “tremendous leader” for the school. He said the administrators have done “a remarkable job with limited resources” in providing sound academic and spiritual formation for the students.
Fr. Cook, the outgoing president, said he is “delighted” with the choice of his successor and looks forward to his leadership.
“It is clear that Dr. Roberts fully understands the mission of the college, its fine liberal arts curriculum, and he embraces the unique leadership training program that has been developed here,” Fr. Cook said March 21. “I greatly appreciate his unshakeable commitment to the Catholic faith and the Catholic identity of our college.”
Roberts will take office on June 1, when Fr. Cook retires.
He added that he is looking forward to the great outdoors of Wyoming, since he and his wife are “avid backpackers.”
“I’m an outdoorsman,” he said. “I tell people that one addiction in my life is fly fishing.”
He said that Wyoming Catholic College, despite its youth, has distinguished itself by fusing “a passion for the truth with a passion for God’s ‘first book,’ which is nature.”
Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Mar 23, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis met with Benedict XVI on Saturday for the first time since his selection, an historic visit that took place in a fraternal atmosphere.
“We are brothers,” Pope Francis told his predecessor before praying side-by-side with him at the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy.
The March 23 encounter marked the first face-to-face meeting between the two since the March 13 election of the new Pope. The encounter is a unique moment in the history of the Church, which has not had a papal resignation in centuries.
Holy See Press Office director Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio about the meeting.
He said there was “a moving embrace between the two” as they first met on the grounds of the Pontifical Villas.
Both wore a simple white cassock. Benedict XVI toted a white jacket against the cool mountain air. Francis was dressed in the white sash and cape of the pontiff.
A small entourage of at least six accompanied the two for the short drive from the heliport to the residence at Castel Gandolfo Benedict XVI has called home since his resignation on Feb. 28. Those present included Archbishop Georg Ganswein, personal secretary to Benedict XVI who remains prefect of the pontifical household.
Upon arrival, the Pope and his predecessor first prayed together in the chapel and then retired to the papal library. There, they spoke for the better part of an hour.
Fr. Lombardi was unable to share any of the content of their confidential discussions. He did discuss Pope Francis’ present to Benedict XVI. Pope Francis brought an icon of Our Lady of Humility “as a gift for Benedict XVI’s great humility,” the Vatican spokesman said.
“You gave us a great example of humility and tenderness,” Pope Francis told his predecessor, according to the recording of the event made by Vatican Television Center.
World media have put much emphasis on Pope Francis’ evident simplicity and humility in his first days. Some reports insinuate a contrast from the last pontificate, but Benedict XVI too is often described as “meek” by those who know him.
Though this was their first meeting in person, the two had already been in contact since the Argentinean Pope’s election on March 13. Francis called him directly on the night of his election and again for the Pope’s name day, the March 19 Feast of St. Joseph.
Before Benedict XVI stepped down on Feb. 28, he had declared to the College of Cardinals his “unconditional reverence and obedience” to his eventual successor.
Fr. Lombardi said the Saturday meeting was “a moment of profound and elevated communion.”
He said Benedict XVI “had the opportunity to renew this act of reverence and obedience to his successor, and certainly Pope Francis renewed his gratitude and that of the whole Church for Pope Benedict’s ministry during his pontificate.”