Napa Valley, Calif., Mar 2, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Fourth Annual Napa Institute will bring together cardinals and other clergy and lay leaders this July for spiritual enrichment and discussion about the challenges of Catholic leadership today.
“The Napa Institute was created to offer a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith in relation to the next America,” Timothy Busch, the Napa Institute’s chairman of the board, said Feb. 18.
“This year’s theme will explore economic justice, beauty and the arts, and reason and faith, and who better to lead these discussions than the who’s who of Catholic leadership.”
The July 24-27 gathering will take place at the Meritage Resort and Spa in California’s Napa Valley.
Mass celebrants and speakers for the event include Cardinal James Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, and Cardinal William Levada, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
A panel of bishops will discuss the new evangelization and Pope Francis; the panel will include Cardinal Levada, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, and Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami
Curtis Martin, president of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, will deliver the event’s keynote address.
There will be daily Masses in various rites at the Meritage Resort’s Estate Cave, as well as Eucharistic adoration at Our Lady of Grapes Chapel, and opportunities for confession.
The event will have dozens of educational seminars and opportunities for fellowship and networking.
The gathering will feature a performance of the play “Faustina, Messenger of Divine Mercy” from St. Luke Productions. Musician Eric Genuis will perform during a Trinitas Cellars wine reception and dinner.
The Napa Institute’s first conference, held in 2011, focused on the possible characteristics of the “Next America,” including increased secularism and antagonism towards religion.
Registration fees for the 2014 event run at $1,700 per person.
Washington D.C., Mar 2, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Students at St. Peter’s School in Washington, D.C., led a recent project to assemble 1,500 bagged breakfasts for those seeking refuge from the cold in homeless shelters around the city.
“It's so important to understand that we have lots of blessings and gifts, and that's why we need to share with other people that don't have such opportunities,” said Maggie, an eighth grader helping lead the project.
She told CNA Feb. 27 that in her group, students ensured that “nobody got anything less than anyone else” by assigning people tasks. One student was named “granola girl,” another was “applesauce guy” and so forth, as they filled up the bags with breakfast items for the homeless.
The school-wide project was part of a larger venture organized by Catholic Charities. Entitled “Cup of Joe,” the initiative brings together volunteer groups to assemble healthy breakfasts for up to 1,300 men and women staying at Catholic Charities shelters every single night.
The meals are offered to those who stay at the shelters, particularly in the cold winter months, said Cup of Joe project coordinator Kevin O’Brien, explaining, “If they're interested in taking breakfast, it's available.”
While the bags assembled by St. Peter's students contain typical items such as granola bars, applesauce, crackers and tea, O'Brien said that the students also decided to decorate their bags and include encouraging Bible verses and notes in both English and Spanish.
“They want to reach out to as many people as possible,” he explained.
Jennifer Ketchum, principal of St. Peter's, said that the project was very much a student-run initiative. Many times over the course of the school year, she explained, students come together in “family” groups to take part in a service project or social activity.
“Each of our eighth graders is responsible for a family with students of all ages,” she explained, adding that the same “family” will work together for the whole year, fostering a sense of community that extends outside of school.
“What's so great is I've had parents tell me that when the older students see the younger students who are in the same family outside of school, they always say 'hi,' and they know each other where they might not otherwise.”
The older students also help to lead the younger students in prayer during their service activities, Ketchum said.
“It's not just about academic growth, it's about the spiritual growth as well.”
Each of the school's 215 students participated in the project, led by 19 eighth graders.
After the service project concluded, Maggie explained that her group of students “ended with a question and answer about what was going on, so they understood why we were doing this.” Each question linked Bible verses to different aspects of the project and reflections about “how can we make it so that we can give out of our abundance.”
Kindergarten student Jane said she hoped to make people happy with the bags, especially with her decorations.
“I'm drawing things that'll make them feel better,” she said as she covered bags in her favorite shapes – hearts and stars.
Maya, a sixth-grade student, said she hoped that by receiving her breakfast bag, the less fortunate would realize “that a lot of people do care.”
“I want them to know they can always find hope,” she said.
Vatican City, Mar 2, 2014 (CNA) -
Crowds filled a rainy St. Peter’s Square today to hear Pope Francis’ Angelus message, which focused on the importance of seeking God above all else, especially earthly goods.
“A heart occupied by the desire to posses is full of this desire to possess (things), but empty of God,” said the Pope on Sunday, March 2.
“In a heart possessed by riches, there is not much space for faith. Everything is occupied by riches: there is no place for faith. If instead one allows God his rightful place, that is, first, then his love also leads to sharing the wealth, putting riches at the service of charitable and development projects, as evidenced by many examples, even recent ones, in the history of the Church.”
The Pontiff explained that for a Christian, wealth can never become a goal in itself. “We cannot serve two masters: God and wealth.”
“This is why Jesus repeated warned the rich, because the risk of placing their security in the goods of this world is strong for them. And security - definitive security - is in God,” he stressed.
A follower of Christ is part of the wider community of the Church, and therefore called to serve others, including by the use of his material possessions, the Pope explained.
“As long as everyone tries to accumulate for themselves, there will never be justice. If, however, trusting in the providence of God, we seek his kingdom together, then no one will lack what is necessary to live with dignity.”
In fact, he continued, “the providence of God passes through our service to others.” When people share their goods, and put them in the service of others, “the providence of God becomes a gesture of solidarity.”
But when a person who “accumulates only for himself,” is “called by God, he will not be able to bring his riches, because, as you know, the burial shroud does not have pockets!”
“It is better to share, because we bring to Heaven only that which we have shared with others,” he stressed.
Pope Francis led the crowds in the Angelus prayer and then asked for prayers for Ukraine, that “all the members of the country strive to overcome misunderstandings and build the future of the nation together.”
Ukraine has experienced several months of political unrest and violence. Recently, Russian troops have entered parts of the country, prompting deep concern from the international community.
Today the Pope asked “the international community that it might support any initiative in favor of dialogue and harmony.”
He then reminded everyone that as Lent begins this this week, Christians are called to “combat evil with the weapons of prayer, fasting, and mercy.”
“Humanity needs justice, reconciliation, (and) peace, and may only have them when it returns to God whole-heartedly,” the Pontiff said. “And we all need God’s forgiveness. We enter into Lent in a spirit of adoration of God, and fraternal solidarity with those who, in these times, are tested by poverty and violent conflict.”
Pope Francis concluded his Angelus by greeting the many pilgrim groups and wishing everyone a “good Sunday and good lunch.”