Archive of February 4, 2014

Thai religious renew vows on Day for Consecrated Life

Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, Feb 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Vowed religious in Thailand gathered to celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life this weekend, fostering and encouraging religious life in the southeast Asian country.

Community and obedience make for a fruitful religious life, Bishop Joseph Sirisut of Nakhon Ratchasima preached in his homily at the Feb. 1 Mass, held at the city's Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes.

More than 500 religious gathered at the city, 160 miles northeast of Bangkok, to renew their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience with lighted candles at the Mass.

Bishop Sirisut encouraged the religious to follow the example of birds which fly in V-formations. He reflected that the V-formation helps the birds to conserve energy,  and maintain communication, factors also important in living in community.

He urged them to be “keen, vigilant observers,” modeling themselves in humility on the Virgin Mary. He also warned against the temptation to pride, encouraging them to discern and to draw strength from the Gospel.

The day's celebrations were also coupled with an anticipation of the cathedral's feast day, which is observed Feb. 11.

The World Day for Consecrated Life is held each year on the Feast of the Purification of Mary, and was instituted in 1997 by Bl. John Paul II, acknowledging the centrality of consecrated life in the Church's mission.

His 1996 apostolic exhortation “Vita Consecrata” compared the varied forms of religious life to the “many branches, which sinks its roots into the Gospel and brings forth abundant fruit in every season of the Church’s life.”

At his Angelus address Feb. 2, Pope Francis said, “every consecrated person is a gift for the People of God on a journey.”

“There is much need of their presence, that strengthens and renews the commitment to spread the gospel, to Christian education, to charity for the most needy, to contemplative prayer; the commitment to a human and spiritual formation of young people, of families; the commitment to justice and peace in the human family.”

He added that “consecrated persons are signs of God in diverse environments of life, they are leaven for the growth of a more just and fraternal society, prophecy of sharing with the little and the poor. As such understanding and experience, the consecrated life appears to us just as it really is: a gift of God.”

“What would happen if there were no sisters? Sisters in the hospitals, sisters in the missions, sisters in the schools… one can’t imagine it! They are the leaven that carry the people of God forward. The Church and the world have need of this testimony of the love and mercy of God.”

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Rural school embraces classical education, Catholic identity

Sterling, Colo., Feb 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Catholic grade school on Colorado's eastern plains is working to adopt a classical curriculum, in the hopes of revitalizing the school community and providing a well-rounded formation for its students.

“We decided we needed to re-explore our Catholic roots in education,” said Joseph Skerjanec, principal of St. Anthony Catholic School in Sterling, Colo.

“We've always distinguished ourselves by our faith, but also academically, we thought this was the best thing: to get back to the Catholic intellectual tradition,” he explained to CNA Jan. 30.

“The purpose of education ultimately is to get to heaven, and we feel this is the best route for us to do that.”

After serving the families of northeastern Colorado for 95 years, St. Anthony's nearly had to close this academic year, but was saved through a successful fundraising campaign.

Skerjanec, together with the faculty and the parish, realized that embracing a classical curriculum might help the school to continue to serve students into the future, by offering “virtue education … and exposing our kids to those people who we need to be modeling our lives after.”

Classical, or liberal arts, education is meant to help students learn how to think, giving them the tools of learning rather than merely teaching them “subjects.” The foundation of classical education is a set of three methods of learning subjects, called the trivium – grammar, logic and rhetoric.

Skerjanec noted that there is a trend of Catholic schools “moving toward classical education … I think you'll find a lot of schools doing this.”

He added that Andrew Seeley, a professor at Thomas Aquinas College in California and director of the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education, has trained the school's staff in the methods of teaching classically.

“The students themselves love it, and I do too. It's been a wonderful experience, very rejuvenating … in a lot of ways it's not new; it's just rediscovering who we are.”

The principal explained that “we spend a lot of our teachers' meetings exploring writings, documents about it, then talking about how it can be implemented,” and “it's been very good for us.”

“It's slowly being implemented,” he noted. “We decided to start with social studies and literature, because that's where a lot of the 'meat' of classical education exists.”

St. Anthony's was introduced to classical education after the son of parish deacon Ron Michieli returned from a classical college and started leading groups in the community. This inspired Deacon Michieli to share the idea with St. Anthony's pastor and with Skerjanec.

“It just feels right,” Skerjanec reflected. “I spent 15 years in public education, and it just always felt like there was something else, something more; and when I finally realized that getting back to the Catholic intellectual tradition was where it was at, it was like a light bulb going off for me.”

Abbey Daly, a new teacher at the school who received a classical education at Wyoming Catholic College, said she has “discovered the importance of memorization” for her middle school classes at St. Anthony's, where she teaches literature, history, logic, Latin and grammar.

“That's been the most enjoyable thing for me: helping the kids in class memorize poetry, Latin forms, presidents, states,” she told CNA. Memorization is an important part of classical education, particularly for younger students, helping to develop intellectual virtues.

Daly explained the importance of classical education “not as a means of getting ahead in life, but as simply a way of being happy no matter what you do in life – farming, or driving a truck, or being a lawyer, whatever God is calling you to be. Latin, learning history this way, learning philosophy and logic, are helpful no matter what God is calling you to do.”

Skerjanec said the school has been explaining its new classical curriculum to parents and parishioners, and hopes to boost enrollment in future years, especially by reaching out to communities around Sterling.

St. Anthony's is the only Catholic school on Colorado's eastern plains among the three dioceses serving the area. The nearest Catholic school is in Greeley, more than 90 miles away.

“No matter where you live, you should have the opportunity to send your kids to a Catholic school, whether it's in a busy place like the Front Range, or out here on the plains with a rural setting,” the principal said.

St. Anthony's “doesn't turn anyone away,” he noted, adding that this is what makes the school's financial planning so important: “we don't want to turn anyone away. Anyone who wants a Catholic education should get one.”

He called it a “blessing” that “while we see so many Catholic schools closing, we're still here, and our community still supports us.”

To stay open for the 2014-15 academic year, St. Anthony's set a goal of raising $600,000 last year. The school ended up raising $1.1 million.

“It truly solidifies the point that our community supports us,” Skerjanec said. “They think it's important that we're here, and we just need to get the word out to regenerate that support; but we cannot thank our benefactors enough for what they've done for us.”

“People from all over have supported us … we're very, very blessed and very thankful, and very humbled by it.”

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Broncos coat drive shows children 'are not forgotten'

Jersey City, N.J., Feb 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The head of the Knights of Columbus praised a recent coat drive for children in partnership with Denver Broncos players, coaches and their families, calling it a sign of Christian charity.

“As an organization founded on the principle of charity, the Knights of Columbus is committed to helping our neighbors in need,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson told CNA Jan. 30.

The Coats for Kids program is “a timely reminder that, for too many children, harsh cold is a daily reality at this time of year,” Anderson said.

Jack Del Rio, defensive coordinator for the Broncos, his wife Linda, and about a dozen members of the Broncos organization helped give away more than 200 coats at Sacred Heart Elementary School in inner-city Jersey City, N.J. Jan. 28, and helped the students try on their new coats in the school’s cafeteria.

Ray McKenna, president of Catholic Athletes for Christ, also attended the event, as did Anderson.

“We are grateful to Jack and Linda Del Rio, and to the other Broncos players and coaches who took time out of their busy schedule to assist us in helping local children during this cold winter,” said Anderson.

The students greeted the Broncos with the words “Good morning visitors – God bless you,” and the school choir sang “You Have to Have Hope.”

After the Knights of Columbus had selected the school for the coat distribution, they learned that Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers had grown up in the neighborhood and had attended Sacred Heart.

Ayers spoke to many of the students, to school principal Sister Francis Salemi, and to two of his former teachers.

Anderson praised the school’s staff and faculty, saying, “the dedicated faculty and staff at inner-city Catholic schools like this one make an enormous difference in the lives of their students and help them rise above their often difficult circumstances.”

He said that the return of a former student such as Ayers and the attention of national leaders to their problems “sends a very important message to these children: they are not forgotten.”

Members of the Denver Broncos also took part in a previous coat distribution in Denver in October. Since the Knights’ Coats for Kids program was begun in 2009, it has provided 170,000 new coats for children, and over 1,200 Knights of Columbus councils took part in the program last year.

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Education should foster freedom, maturity, priest explains

Vatican City, Feb 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - During a special conference exploring the role of education in the new evangelization, Fr. Denis Biju Duval noted that education should help grow our potential, which is inhibited by certain cultural trends.

“This moment of reflection, which is also linked to issues of the new evangelization, is also on what to do nowadays to reconstruct an educational and integral proposal,” Fr. Duval explained in a Jan. 31 interview with CNA.

This proposal, he stated, needs to be one that is “respectful of the educators and that really helps them to structure a true freedom and maturity; and also to incarnate humanly their faith in a balanced way.”

Fr. Biju Duval is a member of the Emmanuel Community, and is the president of the Pontifical Institute Redemptor Hominis, which is part of the Pontifical Lateran University.

Organized by the Emmanuel Community and the Pierre Goursat University Institute, the Jan. 31-Feb. 2 conference reflected on the theme of “Education and the New Evangelization.”

Speaking of the conference theme, Fr. Duval noted that their reflections fall “within a current situation in which references for education have been lost.”

“One does not know any more in the contemporary culture what educating means, what are the contents of education, what are the types of relationships that form with the educators,” he said, highlighting that “there is a twosome that needs to remain indissoluble, which is that of the education and evangelization.”

Referring to the different challenges faced in the area of education today, the priest observed that there are several ideologies which disable one’s capacity to learn and develop well.

The most “fundamental” of these ideologies, he explained, “is that of believing that man, as an autonomous individual, builds himself up on his own.”

“So this fundamental idea is the ruin of all the assumptions of education,” the priest noted, because “considering that the child is in need of everything, that is before being able to exercise his own freedom in a mature and adult way, he needs to first receive it thanks to the educational context in which he grows.”

Therefore, “this is the fundamental idea that puts all the educational proposals in crisis,” Fr. Duval expressed, “because it negates the fundamental anthropological data on which the whole educational proposal is founded.”

Reflecting on the growing threat of gender ideology in schools, the priest observed that this is “a consequence of this fundamental idea which consists of saying if it is true that man builds himself up on his own.”

If man believes this idea, “he also builds himself up on his own with respect to sexual identity or practicing sexuality,” Fr. Duval noted.

“It is not a data that he receives with sexual identity that he has had by birth, but it is a data that he constructs himself, whatever his biological sexual identity is,” the priest observed, and which forgets that man is “heir of a received gift.”

“So the answer is not only that of arguments on gender, it is a much more fundamental answer that consists of restoring the conditions on a level of relationships” he said, which “allow the child and then the young person to discover himself as an heir of the same human nature which he receives.”

When a child recognizes the “values of culture and faith” they have received, they also obtain “the elements of the self-development” and are then “capable of exercising” their “freedom in a mature way,” the priest stated.

“But the main point is that it is necessary to find a communicative and educational style where one can really receive in order to develop.”

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Pope's Lenten message highlights poverty of Christ

Vatican City, Feb 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his first message for the Lenten season, Pope Francis focuses on the poverty of Christ in becoming man, emphasizing that it is our duty to give the same humble witness in our care for the poor.

Announced in a Feb. 4 press conference, the Pope’s Lenten message was read by Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum,” the council that presents the pontifical message each year.

Taking his theme from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, the Pope reflects on the apostle’s words “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”

Reflecting on grace which Christ gives, the Pope emphasizes that the meaning of these words for Christians today shows “us how God works,” and that “God’s becoming man is a great mystery!”

What Paul says in his letter “is no mere play on words or a catch phrase,” Pope Francis states, but “rather, it sums up God’s logic, the logic of love, the logic of the incarnation and the cross.”

“God did not let our salvation drop down from heaven, like someone who gives alms from their abundance out of a sense of altruism and piety. Christ’s love is different!” he affirms.

“Christ’s poverty is the greatest treasure of all,” the pontiff explains, noting that “Jesus’ wealth is that of his boundless confidence in God the Father, his constant trust, his desire always and only to do the Father’s will and give glory to him.”

Recalling the words of author Leon Bloy when he says that the only real poverty is not to be a Saint, the Pope also emphasizes that “there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.”

Drawing attention to the witness we give as Christians, the Pope explains that although we often believe that we can “save the world with the right kind of human resources,” this is “not the case.”

“In imitation of our Master, we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it.”

Reflecting on the difference between “poverty” and “destitution,” the Pope observes that “There are three types of destitution: material, moral and spiritual.”

“Material destitution is what is normally called poverty,” he notes, and it “affects those living in conditions opposed to human dignity: those who lack basic rights and needs such as food, water, hygiene, work and the opportunity to develop and grow culturally.”

What the Church does as a response is “meeting these needs and binding these wounds which disfigure the face of humanity,” because “in the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face,” explains the pontiff.

“Our efforts are also directed to ending violations of human dignity, discrimination and abuse in the world, for these are so often the cause of destitution.”

“When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth,” he notes, and thus “our consciences…need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.”

Turning his focus to moral destitution, the Pope highlights that it “consists in slavery to vice and sin,” and that many families suffer because “one of their members – often a young person - is in thrall to alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography!”

Lamenting that many “no longer see meaning in life or prospects for the future” and have “lost hope” due to unemployment, unjust social conditions, or unequal access to education and healthcare, the pontiff stated that such cases of moral destitution “can be considered impending suicide.”

“This type of destitution, which also causes financial ruin, is invariably linked to the spiritual destitution which we experience when we turn away from God and reject his love,” he says, because when we “believe we can make do on our own, we are headed for a fall.”

An antidote for this spiritual destitution can be found in the Gospel, the Pope reflects, emphasizing that “wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible.”

“The Lord asks us to be joyous heralds of this message of mercy and hope,” the pontiff notes, expressing that “it is thrilling to experience the joy of spreading this good news.”

Encouraging the faithful to “imitate Christ who became poor and enriched us by his poverty,” Pope Francis explains that “Lent is a fitting time for self-denial,” and that “we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty.”

“Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.”

He then voices a prayer to the Holy Spirit, asking that he help us in our resolutions to have a greater concern and responsibility for humanity “so that we can become merciful and act with mercy.”

“In expressing this hope, I likewise pray that each individual member of the faithful and every Church community will undertake a fruitful Lenten journey,” the Pope states, adding that “I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you safe.”

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Mexico Cathedral to receive John Paul II relic

Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 4, 2014 (CNA) - The Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Mexico City will open its Holy Door on Feb. 9 to receive a first-class relic of Blessed John Paul II, as well as a painting and a skullcap used by the late pontiff.

The ceremony will mark the beginning of the relic’s pilgrimage throughout the archdiocese in order to encourage the faithful to follow the April 27 canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII with deep devotion.

Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City will welcome the faithful before the Mass, after which a life-size wax sculpture of the “Pilgrim Pope” will be put on display.

The sculpture contains a reliquary in the form of a cross on its chest, where a vial containing blood from the pontiff will be kept for veneration by the faithful.

The archdiocese has organized a series of events to take place the week prior to the canonizations, including film festivals, art expos and concerts, as well as a prayer vigil to be held April 25 at the cathedral.

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Churches offer refuge to Indonesians fleeing volcano

Medan, Indonesia, Feb 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following a Feb. 1 volcanic eruption on the Indonesian island Sumatra, the local Church has been providing shelter and assistance to those affected by the tragedy.

Mount Sinabung's sudden eruption on Saturday morning spewed smoke, ash and rocks 1.5 miles into the air and engulfed several nearby villages in ash.

At least 16 people have been killed by the eruption, which occurred 55 miles south of Medan.

“We hope the eruptions stop quickly and people can return to their home and work as usual,” Fr. Andika Tarigs, who is coordinating the Archdiocese of Medan's refugee relief operation, told CNA Feb. 3.

Fr. Tarigs reported that some 29,000 local residents had to abandon land, property, and livestock, and “flee their villages for safety.”

The Medan archdiocese has opened the doors of its parishes to give temporary shelter to displaced persons, regardless of their religion.

A large number of the evacuees, nearly 1,100, have taken refuge in St. Peter and Paul parish, located roughly three miles from Mount Sinabung.

“It’s sad … to see the plight of the affected people,” Fr. Sebastianus Eka Bhakti Sutapa, rector of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Medan, told CNA Feb. 3.

Medan will be safe, he said, and that the cathedral parish is assisting the diocese and other parishes in providing support to the displaced.

Fr. Sutapa said farmers are the worst affected by the volcano, as they have lost both their crops and livestock. He cited an imminent need of monetary support for the affected persons, so that farmers can begin their lives again, and children can continue their education.

Mount Sinabung had been dormant for 400 years until 2010, and it has erupted periodically since then.

Local authorities have warned residents the eruptions might continue, and to remain away until further notice.

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God is a father who never disowns his children, Pope affirms

Vatican City, Feb 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his daily Mass, Pope Francis compared the love of God to the two fathers in the day's readings, saying that God is a parent who “weeps” for his children and desires them to be close to him.

“This is the heart of a father, who never disowns his own son,” the Pope said in his Feb. 4 Mass, referring to the Old Testament account of David's sadness at hearing of the death of his son.

Using this image of David in the first reading, taken from the Second Book of Samuel, the Pope addressed those gathered in the chapel of the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse, highlighting David’s grief at the death of his son, Absalom, despite the fact that he betrayed his father.

David had won the battle, but he was not interested in the victory, only his son, the pontiff explained, emphasizing that although David was a king, he was also a father, which is why he went to an upper room and wept when he heard of Absalom's death.

While “he was walking away, he was saying: ‘My son, Absalom. My son! My son, Absalom! How I wish I had died rather than you!” the Pope recalled, noting that “David does not disown his fatherhood,” but instead “he weeps.”

“David weeps twice for his children: on this occasion and another time when the son from his adultery was about to die,” the Pope observed, adding that “on that occasion too, he fasted and did penance in order to save the life of the son. He was a father!”

Turning to the day’s Gospel reading, taken from Mark, the pontiff drew attention to Jairus, who approaches Jesus in the synagogue and asks him to heal his daughter.

He is not afraid to beg at Jesus' feet, and to say “My little daughter is dying, please come and lay your hands on her so she can be saved and live,” the Pope noted, highlighting how he doesn’t care what others say, because he is a father.

Referring to both David and Jairus, Pope Francis expressed that “For them, the most important thing is their son, their daughter! There is nothing else. This is the only important thing!”

Calling to mind the words of the Creed when we proclaim that “I believe in God the Father,” the Pope observed that “this makes us think about the fatherhood of God,” and that “God is like this with us!”

Although some might say that God is not like this, and does not weep, the Pope stated that “yes, he does!” and recalled “how he wept when looking at Jerusalem,” saying “’Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How many times have I wished to gather your children, like the hen who gathers her chicks under her wings?’”

“God weeps! Jesus has wept for us! And that weeping of Jesus is exactly that of a Father who weeps, who wants everybody with him.”

Highlighting how “our Father responds” to us even in our difficulties, the pontiff spoke of Abraham and Isaac when they were carrying the wood up the mountain for the sacrifice.

“Isaac was not stupid,” the Pope explained, “he realized that he was carrying the wood, the fire, but not the sheep for the sacrifice. He was stricken with anguish in his heart! And what does he say? ‘Father!’ And immediately the father replies “Here I am my son!’”

The Pope then observed that we see the same thing with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, who prays “with that anguish in his heart: My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by!’”

Recalling how God sent angels to minister to and comfort Jesus, the Pope repeated that “That’s how our Father is: He is a Father and a Father like this!”

“Our fatherhood,” that of both physical fathers as well as the spiritual fatherhood of bishops and priests “must be like this,” explained the pontiff, adding that “the Father has” a type of “anointing that comes from the son: he can’t understand himself without his child!”

For this reason,  he noted, a father “needs his child, he is waiting for him, he loves him, he looks for him, he forgives him, he wants him close to him, just as close as the hen who wants her chicks.”

Concluding his homily, the Pope encouraged those present to continue meditating on the images of David and Jairus, saying “with these two icons let’s say: ‘I believe in God the Father.’”

“To be able to say to God ‘Father’ with our hearts is a grace of the Holy Spirit,” reflected the pontiff, “let’s ask him for this.”

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Queen Elizabeth to meet with Pope Francis in April

London, England, Feb 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, will visit Rome on April 3, and will meet with both the Pope and the Italian president, the British Monarchy has announced.

In a Feb. 4 press release, the Monarchy said that the Queen – who is the head of the Church of England – is traveling to Rome at the invitation of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

After meeting with the politician in a private lunch at the presidential palace, “Her Majesty and His Royal Highness will have an Audience with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican,” the statement said.

According to the BBC, the Queen had originally planned to visit Rome in 2013, but the visit was canceled due to the monarch falling sick.

This will be the 87-year-old Queen's fifth meeting with a Pope at the Vatican, and her fourth as Queen: previously she had met Pope Pius XII in 1951, Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1961, and Bl. Pope John Paul II in 1980 and 2000.

In 1982, the Queen became the first British monarch to host and meet a reigning Pope in the United Kingdom, welcoming John Paul II to the royal residences at Buckingham Palace. She also greeted Benedict XVI with a full state welcome during his 2010 visit to the country.

The Queen's visit to Rome will be her first trip outside of the United Kingdom in three years. Buckingham Palace also announced that the Queen will travel to France in June to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy.

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Catholic press shares mission of saving souls, new LA editor says

Los Angeles, Calif., Feb 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - John David Long-Garcia, the new editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles archdiocese’s The Tidings Corp., says he hopes to build on Catholic newspapers’ mission of bringing people “closer to God and closer to each other.”

“The truth about who we are as human beings is incomplete if it we don’t understand who God is. That’s all part of what the mission is in Catholic journalism,” Long-Garcia told CNA Feb. 4.

“What I believe about The Tidings and what I believe about Catholic newspapers in general is that we share the mission of the Church in saving souls.”

The Tidings, the L.A. archdiocese’s newspaper, was founded in 1895. It is the oldest Catholic newspaper on the U.S. West Coast, reaching an estimated 230,000 readers each week. Vida Nueva, a Spanish-language monthly, has an estimated readership of 115,000, according to 2012 figures from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Long-Garcia, a veteran Catholic journalist, previously served as editor of the Diocese of Phoenix’s newspaper, The Catholic Sun, for nearly 10 years. He is now entering the largest U.S. archdiocese and one of the largest dioceses in the world – Los Angeles is home to more than 4.3 million Catholics in a total population of 11.2 million.

In his new role, he will oversee both archdiocese newspapers, their websites and their social media. He will also supervise the publication of the archdiocese’s annual Catholic directory, The Tidings reports.

David Scott, the archdiocese’s vice chancellor for communications, said Long-Garcia’s appointment is “a bright new moment for us.”

“J.D. Long-Garcia is probably the finest Catholic editor in the country right now. And he ‘gets’ Archbishop Gomez’s vision for the new evangelization and the role our newspaper should play through reporting, cultural analysis and fostering Catholic identity and engagement,” Scott said in The Tidings.

Long-Garcia told CNA that Catholic newspapers should be “unabashedly Catholic.” They can help their readers “love God and love each other better by reporting, by strong, solid journalism, by telling the truth. Part of that truth includes the truth about Jesus Christ.”

“We can take our lead from Pope Francis and the way he’s engaging the changing culture, to share the good news about the gospel and share the great joy that we find in our Church,” he said. “Our Holy Father has demonstrated how effective it can be to tell the truth with joy and a heart full of love.”

In the course of his career, Long-Garcia has covered the Catholic Church’s work in Iraqi refugee assistance in Syria and Lebanon, according to The Tidings. He has reported on West Africa’s drought and famine relief, as well as earthquake relief in Haiti. He has reported on immigration issues related to the U.S.-Mexico border and from within Mexico itself.

The Arizona Newspaper Association named Long-Garcia “Journalist of the Year” for 2013 among non-daily newspapers in Arizona. He has received more than 60 awards for his writing, layout and photography.

Long-Garcia, however, is quick to praise God.

“I would say that most of my success, I can’t take credit for. Most of my success has been by God’s grace,” he said, praising the effect that adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has had in his life.

Included in Long-Garcia’s educational background is a master’s degree in philosophy from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, as well as a master’s degree in theology from the Graduate Theological Union.

A lay Dominican and a member of the Knights of Columbus, he has also taught Scripture and Church history and has been a catechist for children.
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in the U.S., Long-Garcia is bilingual in English and Spanish. He stressed the “paramount” need for Spanish-language Catholic publications, given the continued growth of the Hispanic population.

“The Catholic press is Latino as well, including myself,” he said.

In his view, Spanish-speakers in the U.S. are often immigrants who tend to prefer printed publications.

“Their culture is one in which they’re more accustomed to having the printed page, as they are riding the bus or the subway or at home,” he continued. “It’s a huge responsibility to pay attention to their needs.”

Long-Garcia said he believes the medium of print will still continue to be necessary, but the Catholic press also has to adapt to provide social media content and websites that are “very well-designed and appealing and easy-to-read.”

The Catholic press should also take care to provide shorter stories when necessary, he added.

“Twitter is 140 characters,” he said. “If you’re going to write a 2,000-word feature, it had better be good or nobody is going to read it.”

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