Archive of July 14, 2014

Ibrahim case reflects deeper problems in Sudan, says bishop

Yambio, Jul 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The “disgraceful case” of Sudanese Christian Meriam Ibrahim is only one of many examples of discrimination and harassment faced by Christians in Sudan, a bishop in the region has said.

“Christians in Sudan can attend divine service unmolested, but there is no genuine freedom of religion and conscience in the country,” Bishop Edward Kussala told Aid to the Church in Need July 10.

Bishop Kussala heads the Diocese of Tombura-Yamibo in South Sudan, a country which became independent from its northern neighbor in 2011. The region suffered a bloody civil war from 1983 to 2005.

Ibrahim, who was born to a Muslim father but raised a Christian, was sentenced to death in May 2014 for alleged apostasy from Islam. She was also sentenced to flogging for adultery on the grounds that Sudanese law does not recognize her marriage to a Christian man. Ibrahim, who would not renounce her faith, gave birth to a baby girl in prison with her legs shackled.

She was released on appeal in late June, re-arrested while trying to leave the country, then released again. She and her husband are presently at the U.S. Embassy to Sudan, hoping to move to the U.S., where her husband is a citizen.

Bishop Kussala said that there are other religious freedom problems in Sudan. Priests and bishops live “as de facto illegals” and are barred from holding passports.

“They cannot leave the country and would likely be barred from returning should they leave,” the bishop said.

Some priests have been expelled from the country, and “the bishops are condemned to remain silent,” he added.

About 3 million Christians live in Sudan. While they have the same constitutional rights as Muslims, these are not enforced equally and the Sudanese government holds Christians responsible for the breakaway of South Sudan.

Bishop Kussala said that the Church “does not pursue any political aims.”

“We only call upon politicians to respect freedom of religious faith and conscience.”

In May, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) suggested that the Sudanese' government's refusal to recognize religious fredom was a motivation for the region's lengthy civil war.

Sudan's population is 97 percent Muslim, and the nation scored an 11 out of 100 in Transparency International's 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index, ranking at 174 out of 177 among nations based on the perception of their public sector corruption – ahead of only Afghanistan, North Korea, and Somalia.

Since 1999, the U.S. state department has listed Sudan as a country of particular concern due to religious freedom violations.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which advises the U.S. government, said in its 2014 report that Sudan’s government “continues to engage in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief.” The report noted that the country’s “restrictive interpretation of Shariah law” is imposed on both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Bishop Kussala called on Catholics, especially those in the West, to pray for their fellow Christians in Sudan. He also asked them to work to bring attention of their suffering and persecution to their lawmakers.

“Don’t let them remain invisible,” the bishop urged.

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Christians disappearing from Iraq, bishops lament

Baghdad, Iraq, Jul 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Two Iraqi archbishops are seeking “faith and hope” in Iraq, while bewailing the continuing exodus of Christians from the country amid continued violence.

Archbishop Yousif Mirkis heads the Chaldean Archdiocese of Kirkuk, in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region.

He said that he “quite definitely” fears the end of Christianity in Iraq.

“We are in the process of disappearing, just as the Christians in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and North Africa have disappeared. And even in Lebanon they now constitute only a minority,” he told the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need July 8.

Archbishop Mirkis said he is not resigned to defeat, but “trying to be realistic.”

“There is still the hope that faith brings,” he said. While he himself will not leave Iraq, he said he understands why young Christians are leaving in the wake of so many violent deaths.

“In the past ten years we have lost a bishop and six priests. In addition there are about a thousand of the faithful who have died in attacks.”

“Not everybody shares the faith and the hope.”

The Christian population in Iraq has plummeted to 400,000, down from about 1.5 million before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Their situation has worsened further since June, when insurgents with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant seized a sizeable amount of territory in north-western Iraq.

According to U.N. figures, acts of violence and terrorism killed at least 2,400 Iraqis and 1,500 civilians in June alone. The violence has also driven more than 1 million people from their homes.

Kurdish forces have separately moved into cities like Kirkuk and other areas abandoned by the Iraqi Army. A political rift has opened between Iraq’s Kurdish leaders and others in the government headed by prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, the BBC reports.

Archbishop Matti Warda of the Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil said that it will be “difficult” to keep Christians in the Kurdistan region, given the lack of homes and jobs.

However, he believes that there is a future for Christians in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“Not only is there security here, but the government is prepared to listen to our concerns. This became evident in the present refugee crisis,” the archbishop told Aid to the Church in Need.

“The Kurdish government has opened the borders to Christians.”

He acknowledged that this situation has come about because Christians will not return home.

“When we approached the government here we made clear that the Christian families had no intention of returning. The Kurds said that they would of course prefer it if the Christians were able to remain in their homeland where their possessions are. But in this situation they made immigration easier.”

He that since the beginning of June his eparchy has cared for about 400 Christian families from the Mosul area.

“Either they will stay here in Kurdistan or they'll go to another country, to Turkey or Lebanon. Many have already begun to do this unfortunately.”

Archbishop Warda said that the ruling parties in Kurdistan follow a secular tradition that helps the Christians’ situation. While there are people in Kurdistan with “narrow views,” he said, “that is not the government’s attitude.”

He also encouraged people to be realistic about the existence of extremist movements and activities.

“Such movements are rising in the whole region. They will also reach Kurdistan. Quite definitely. But at least the government's keeping an eye on the problem.”

He said he believed that the government would intervene before hostilities reach Christian towns.

“We must in any case be prepared.”
Archbishop Mirkis said the disappearance of Christians would destabilize Iraq’s “social ecology.” Their churches have traditionally maintained many schools and hospitals. They have always been “open-minded, multilingual and oriented towards the West,” disproportionately serving as medical specialists, engineers, intellectuals, writers, and journalists.

“Because of the continuous emigration we are of course losing our dynamism,” the archbishop said.

He said it is “not easy to be a Christian in Iraq today.”

The archbishop said the founding of Israel in 1948 “traumatized the Middle East.” The assassination of the last Iraqi monarch, whose reign provided many freedoms to Christians, was followed by more political assassinations, a 1967 war against Israel, and the Iran-Iraq War.

“All this generated instability and emigration.”

The rise of ISIL terrorists is a new situation, he acknowledged, but it must be understood “in a broader context.” He said that antagonism between the West and the Islamic world has replaced the antagonism between the West and the Soviet Union.

“It is a war between the modern and the retrograde. For example, the Salafists refer back, even in their name, to their seventh century ancestors, whom they wish to imitate,” he said, referring to a school of Islam common among some extremist Muslims.

Christians’ Western orientation is one reason extremists hate them, the archbishop agreed.

“But the jihadists don’t hate only them, but also all those who do not agree with their worldview.”

Archbishop Mirkis said that the Muslim elite has been weakened alongside Christians, with “disastrous consequences.”

He said that the “best antidotes” to extremism are dialogue and culture.

“The more culture a country has the less susceptible it is to fanaticism.”

Christians have met in dialogue with elite Muslims “like brothers.”

However, these Muslims are declining in number too. More than 180 university professors have been killed in attacks in Iraq, and many medical specialists have left the country.

Archbishop Mirkis said that Christians must listen to Christ, and be “the salt of the earth.”

The Kirkuk archdiocese is preparing a relief effort to Muslim refugees from ISIL-occupied areas.

This is not a “proselytizing action,” the archbishop emphasized.

“They should know that their Christian brothers love them. And many of the faithful are donating to this even though they have to scrimp and save to do it. This is our role.”

He also rejected any claims that a majority of Iraqis are extremist.

“The Iraqi people are not innately fanatical. Like the Islamic world as a whole, they have been hijacked by fanatics. And now they can't move.”

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Pope's audience with elderly to explore vocation of old age

Vatican City, Jul 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Organizers for the first-ever audience to be held between a pope and the elderly population have revealed that a central reflection will be the active vocation of the aged in the Church and in society.

“We have given 20 years of life to old people now (in Western countries), but 20 years to do what? This is the big question that this meeting wants to share with everyone,” Fr. Andrea Ciucci of the Pontifical Council for the Family told CNA July 11.

“There is a particular vocation of elderly and grandparents in society and in the Church.”

Entitled “The Blessing of a Long Life,” the event will take place Sept. 28 in St. Peter’s Square. The square will open at 7:30 a.m. with the official celebration beginning at 9 a.m. The day will culminate with an audience and Mass at 10:30 presided over by Pope Francis.

The idea to hold an audience with elderly and grandparents “came from the Pope himself,” who has spoken “many times about elderly and grandparent,” Fr. Ciucci observed.

Quoting a recent speech the pontiff made, Fr. Ciucci stated that “the care given to the elderly, like that of children, is an indicator of the quality of a community. When the elderly are tossed outside, when the elderly are isolated and sometimes fade away due to a lack of care, it is an awful sign.”

This meeting, he said, “is necessary to proclaim to the world that elderly are inside the Church, are inside society,” and to go against the “awful signs” visible in today’s culture that tell us they are burdensome.

Observing how the encounter will be the first-recorded of its kind, Fr. Ciucci explained that the family council, who is organizing the event, anticipates “many thousands of elderly and grandparents from Italy, from Europe and probably some representatives from the other nations of the world.”

He affirmed that there will also be thousands more who are not able to come physically, but who will participate through the television and Internet.

“It's very important for us and for the families of the world, to present, to put a light on this age of life,” the priest continued, stating that “the elderly and grandparents are not only an object of pastoral care,” but have a “particular vocation.”

“This meeting is very important to promote the reflection of the role of elderly and grandparents in society and in the Church,” he went on, quoting President of the Pontifical Council for the Family Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia in saying that “even the Church must have this respect and reconsider the vocation of elderly.”

“For example, besides the traditional task of transmitting the faith and helping parents, there are other equally important areas to be considered, such as prayer, the prayer of the elderly and the prayer of grandparents, and the transmitting of the Gospel.”

Going on, Fr. Ciucci noted that in connection with advancing age are “all the civil aspects, a culture that older people can convey with particular care to conceive the weakening of life not as a final tragedy, but rather as a testimony of hope in the hereafter.”

To be elderly, he explained, is “a vocation” to “transmit faith, to pray, to read Holy Scripture, to promote a culture of hope, to promote a culture of shared faith, share a way to stay in the world to the new generations.”

In a July 13 video message addressing the elderly and patients of Antonio Gemelli hospital in Rome, Pope Francis encouraged them to cultivate in prayer “the flavor of the things of God,” and to “bear witness that your strength lies in God alone.”

He apologized for canceling his June 27 visit at the last minute, explaining that he had suffered from a severe headache and nausea, which is why he was unable to come.

The Pope told the sick that as patients who “experience the frailty of the body,” they are able to offer “a powerful testimony to those who are near you of how the Gospel and the merciful love of the Father are a precious asset in life, not money or power.”

“Indeed, even when a person is important according to a worldly logic, he is not able to add even one extra day to his own life.”

Pope Francis also drew attention in his message to how the summer months can be an especially difficult time for elderly and sick, “who encounter greater difficulties in obtaining certain services, especially in big cities.”

Apologizing again for missing the appointment, the Pope said, “We must accept our frailty,” and asked that the patients and staff join him in cultivating “the trust that our strength lies in God alone.”

“I entrust you to Mary and ask that you continue to pray for me, as I need your prayers.”

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Nigerian archbishop calls for government rescue of schoolgirls

Vatican City, Jul 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Amid government reports that the nearly 200 girls kidnapped in Chibok could be home soon, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama has called the country’s leaders to follow through with their promises.

“At the conclusion of the National Council of States Meeting…there was news that it will just be a matter of time before the girls are released,” Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama told CNA July 11.

“That is good news, we hope. But we will have to see how far it goes, how concrete that news will be. As I said there’s a lot of promises,” but “promises are not enough, we just want to see concrete action and the fruit of whatever the government is doing along with the international community.”

Archbishop of Jos, Nigeria and spokesman for the country’s Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Kaigama gave his comments following the conclusion of Nigeria’s July 8 National Council of States Meeting.

Convening for the second time this year, the meeting was attended by President Goodluck Johnson, along with the nation's vice president, former heads of states, governors of the 36 states including Abuja’s minister, former and present Chief Justices of the Federation, the Senate president, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Inspector General of Police.

During their discussion, Nigeria’s Daily Post reports that Akwa Ibom’s state governor, Godswill Akpabio, said that at the top of “the agenda of the meeting was the security of the nation,” and that the key security issue “was the rescue of (the) Chibok girls,” whom military services assured would be home soon.

More than 200 schoolgirls, mostly aged between 16 and 18, were kidnapped April 14 from their boarding school in Borno, Nigeria's northeastern-most state, by militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

Launched in 2009 with the hope of imposing sharia law on Nigera, Boko Haram has targeted security forces, politicians, Christian minorities, and moderate Muslims in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north.

Its attacks have killed thousands since 2009, including at least 1,600 in 2014 alone. The U.N. estimates that the attacks have led to more than 470,000 internally displaced persons, and some 57,000 refugees.

On June 23, an explosion attributed to Boko Haram at a public health college in Kano killed eight and wounded at least 20. In recent weeks numerous villages in Nigeria's northeastern Borno have been attacked by the terrorist group, with dozens killed and more abductions of women and children.

Regarding the government’s promises of increased security and the Chibok girls’ release, Archbishop Kaigama explained that “the kidnapped girls have not been released, and we continue to experience a series of attacks in the Borno area, now even more than before.”

Although there is “a lot of work going on behind the scenes…we have yet to see the full effect of all that they have been doing.”

“What the ordinary man or woman wants is the truth of that work that the government claims they are doing; that there will be peace, that people can move freely, that people can go to churches and public places without the fear of being attacked by these terrorists. This is what every Nigerian wants.”

Despite the positive outlook of Nigerian military forces regarding the situation, the archbishop emphasized that “we want to see the fruits” of their efforts.

“We don’t want to hear of promises or expectations that might not be met. We want to see concrete proof that they are doing everything in their power to guarantee freedom to Nigerians and to stop these terrorists communities that continue to kill many and destroy means of livelihood.”

The Church, he explained, does as much as possible “to be in solidarity with the suffering people,” however it “has its limits” and “cannot go beyond a certain point.”

“We try to offer our hope, we try to keep things moving by participating in religious activities without locking up the churches so that people feel like things are still going on.”

Noting that the Church doesn’t “have the power to do anything,” more than this, the archbishop said that “at this point the only (hope) is the government,” and encouraged both political and church officials to continue fostering dialogue with Borno’s moderate Muslims in order to fight the extremist terrorists.

Archbishop Kaigama revealed that there is evidence of some “people, organizations, religious leaders, leaders of different kinds” who are accomplices of Boko Haram, even amongst security forces, and urged the government to “use her intelligence sources in order to identify these people.”

Even beyond Nigeria there are “groups that are in partnership with Boko Haram, and they are groups that support them logistically, support them economically and even with weapons,” he continued.

“It is the duty of the government of Nigeria and the international community to find out who these groups are, who these people are and cut off their supply lines and what they offer to the Nigerian terrorists so that they continue to kill.”

“We hope that these people can be identified and that they will be stopped,” the archbishop voiced, explaining that Nigerian people “are patient and continue to wait, hoping that the situation will be better.”

“I always like to say that Nigerians are a very patient people, and very resilient also. They are also people of faith…and these are all the things that give them the hope to continue believing that things will be better, someday there will be light at the end of the tunnel.”

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Vatican appoints advisor for the Legion of Christ

Rome, Italy, Jul 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The appointment of Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, S.J., as pontifical advisor for the Legion of Christ aims to advance the renewal and reform of the troubled religious congregation.

Fr. Benjamin Clariond, a Legion of Christ spokesperson, said the advisor’s presence guarantees help and oversight for the Legion “in following through on the path we already started.”
Fr. Clariond told CNA July 4 that rebuilding “trust and credibility” is something “that takes time.”  But, he added, “I would ask people to give us a chance.”

Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, named Fr. Ghirlanda as a pontifical advisor on July 3 and explained his functions and role.

The announcement of the priest’s appointment followed a meeting at the Legion’s Center for Higher Studies in Rome. The cardinal and Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo, O.F.M., the Vatican congregation’s secretary, met with the Legion’s general director Fr. Eduardo Robles Gil, L.C.

The revelations of scandals involving the Legion of Christ founder Fr. Marcial Maciel prompted the Holy See to take over the process of reforming his religious congregation.
Maciel lived a double life as a pedophile and a womanizer and fathered at least one child.
In 2006 the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, removed Maciel from public ministry and ordered him to spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance. The Vatican congregation decided not to subject him to a canonical process because of his advanced age.
From that point, Pope Benedict carried on a process of reform for the Legion of Christ. In 2010, he appointed then-Archbishop Velasio de Paolis as the papal delegate to the Legion of Christ to oversee its reform.

The process of renewal has not been easy for the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Clariond said.

“It is just like you are in the sea and a wave turns you upside down,” he said.
Despite the tough times, however, Fr. Clariond stressed that “we have felt the love of the Church that accompanied us.”

Fr. Ghirlanda has served as an advisor for the commission overseeing the religious congregation’s new constitution since March 19, when he was named to the position by the Legion’s general director. He has also served as one of the four deputies of Cardinal de Paolis.  

The Legion of Christ in a July 3 statement said that Cardinal Braz de Aviz emphasized that the advisor’s new role will be “strictly consultative” and he will not take part in the actual government of the congregation.

As an advisor, Fr. Ghirlanda will be able to participate in the Legion of Christ’s general council meetings “when he sees fit.”  

The Legion voiced hope “that he will be able to continue supporting the Legion of Christ in overcoming the institutional crisis that has taken place in the past few years.”
Fr. Clariond stressed that the advisor was named at the pleasure of the Holy See and “he will be with us as long as the Holy See deems it convenient.”

According to Fr. Clariond, Fr. Ghirlanda will help the Legion of Christ “find a canonical structure for the whole Regnum Christi movement.”

Regnum Christi, the congregation’s lay affiliate, includes consecrated men and women as well as non-consecrated laymen.

At the start of 2014, the Legion of Christ held its extraordinary general chapter. Cardinal de Paolis declared the congregation “reconciled with themselves, with their history, with the world and the Church.”

The extraordinary general chapter elected the new general director and government. It also issued a draft of the new statutes.

Once drafted, the statutes were given to an ad hoc commission established by the Congregation for Consecrated Life. Cardinal Braz de Aviz presented the commission’s findings to the government of the Legion of Christ on July 3, indicating corrections and improvements to be made.

The new statutes consist of 247 articles, compared to the 878 articles of the previous statutes.
The first part of the new statutes concerns the Legion of Christ’s charism and its patrons. The second part describes the four vows the Legionaries of Christ must profess. The constitution then explains the congregation’s formation and the characteristics of suitable candidates to become Legionaries of Christ, as well as the congregation’s religious profession, studies, management and administration.

According to Fr. Clariond, the final article is the best summary of the whole constitution. It reads:  “The Legionnaire must shape his life on Christ.”

He explained that the old constitution included many sections about the application of the norms. By contrast, the new constitution is “more essential” and focuses on principles.

“We can change applications according to different realities,” the priest said.

The ad hoc commission required some adjustments, including explicit references to texts of the Second Vatican Council and to texts of the post-conciliar magisterium.

The commission also said that the constitution should indicate the canons of the Code of Canon Law which underlie its norms. This will help make references to concrete canons when necessary to interpret the text.

Fr. Ghirlanda will help with this adjustment.

After the July 3 meeting with Fr. Gil, Cardinal Joao de Aviz and Archbishop Rodriguez had supper with some members of the congregation. They “encouraged seminarians who are in Rome to continue in this path,” recounted Fr. Clariond.

At present, there are 947 priests affiliated with the Legion of Christ.

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CatholicFest mixes camping, encounter with truth, beauty

Green Bay, Wis., Jul 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - For the past three years now, Catholic families in the Diocese of Green Bay and beyond have been marking their calendars for July 4th, and not just because it’s Independence Day.

Since 2012, families have camped out by Kangaroo Lake near Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc., for CatholicFest, an event over the holiday weekend that offers a chance to pray, meet other Catholic families, and experience truth, beauty and goodness in the arts.

“Our society is attacking the family, it’s under attack,” CatholicFest director Jen Lowery told CNA.

“But I think CatholicFest seeks to really minister to families….it’s just to come up and experience the good, the true and the beautiful through those mediums and to be together.”

Families register online for a camping spot on the grounds of the St. Joseph formation center. Once they arrive, their schedule includes prayer and Mass, as well as presentations by Catholic artists on film, art or literature. In the evening, up-and-coming Catholic artists give concerts on the back lawn.

Lowery, 31, helped direct the first CatholicFest as well as the most recent one. The event is an outreach of Catholic Youth Expeditions (CYE), founded in 2002 as a part-summer camp, part-retreat ministry that brings young adult staff members together to live in community and host various high school and young adult expeditions of prayer, community life, camping and outdoor activities.

Simplicity and prayer are the bread and butter of CYE and all its apostolates, including CatholicFest.

“You’re up here, you’re away from the world, and the three constants are morning and evening prayer, Eucharistic adoration and Mass,” Lowery said. “Everything else is icing on the cake.”

CatholicFest was started as a way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the CYE ministry. Instead of high schoolers or young adults, Fr. Quinn wanted to serve the families of the Green Bay Diocese while promoting Catholic culture through the arts.

Because the call to simplicity is so foundational to CYE, there is a minimum of advertisement and publicity for their events. Lowery made a few amateur YouTube videos on her laptop for CatholicFest. Beyond that, it’s mostly person invitation.

“Basically CYE has been around for 12 years because of personal invitation,” Lowery said. “It’s all about the invitation and the encounter. The first two words of our mission statement are ‘to encounter’ so there’s already an invitation there for action.”

Personal invitation is why Carlene and Christopher Martens have been bringing their still-growing family of five up to CatholicFest since its beginning.

“Father Quinn said Mass at the Cathedral and afterwards my husband decided to take our son up to meet him,” Carlene said, “And as David was shaking Fr. Quinn's hand, Father was like, ‘Do you like fishing? Do you like camping? Then you gotta come to CatholicFest!’”

When Carlene sat down to talk with CNA at the event, the kids were nowhere in sight.

“I have five kids running around right now, I don't see a single one of them and I am totally at peace with that, and not in a bad way,” Martens said. “There are so many families here, I know that the moms are always looking out for kids no matter what. Everybody’s looking out for everybody else. It's just such a family community here.”

Carlene’s oldest son David, almost 9, likes the freedom he has at CatholicFest to roam around with his friends and play soccer. Her daughters love the concerts.

“They are looking forward to the band tonight, being able to get up and dance, that's their favorite part,” Martens said.

Martens said she and her husband enjoy the family atmosphere and being around other Catholic parents with similar experiences to theirs.

Steve and Lily Simmons are converts to the Catholic faith who brought their family up to CatholicFest for the second time this year. The fellowship and community at CatholicFest is what keeps them coming back.

“With us being converts, we have felt alone a lot in that because some people have been part of the Church for so long that it’s just what they do,” Lily said. “So coming from the Protestant background, so much of our experience was community and fellowship, and that’s been something that we’ve been so hungry for so this is something that’s been an awesome blessing for that reason.”

The ability to get to know people on a deeper level is something that CatholicFest offers that parish life often does not, Steve said.

“We like coming up here, camping for a few days, having it surround around the Mass, coupled with a social environment where we just spend time with each other and get to know each other more on a more profound level than just coffee and a donut and fundraising and banquets at church,” Steve said.

The perpetual adoration available in the chapel all weekend also blesses the families present and creates a palpable presence of grace, Steve said.

“It definitely lays a spiritual cover,” he said. “It’s not just when you’re in the chapel, it’s on the whole grounds, along with Mass.”

Hannah Rathsack, a CYE summer staff member for the past two years, said she would encourage Catholics and non-Catholics alike to come to CatholicFest.

“This event looks entertaining to others because of the events that take place but it is so much more than that,” Rathsack said. “God is working through the entire event and can change hearts.”

This year’s speakers and entertainers included authors Dr. Mark and Dr. Adrianne Adderly, Catholic comedian Tony Bonse, keynote speaker Jimmy Mitchell and several musicians from the Love Good Music tour.

Lowery said she finds most of the speakers and musicians through recommendations from friends, or because they have somehow heard about CYE.

“I think the thing we want to promote is a retreat for Catholic artists up here,” Lowery said. “Its really like a grassroots movement, we don’t want to get really big bands or famous names, we want to get people who are an unknown and help them grow in their ministry.”

The musicians and artists are invited to stay for the whole weekend, and often stay even longer at the formation center as a kind of retreat.

“We are able to minister to them, and they are able to minister to us, it’s cyclical, it’s relational ministry,” Lowery said. “We don’t just hire someone to come sing to us and then they leave.”

Lowery also emphasized that CatholicFest provides so much more than just entertainment.

“It’s formative,” Lowery said. “We’re not entertaining, we’re encountering. An entertainer can entertain you, but you’re not really going to be changed too much…but when you have an encounter with something, you’re changed.”

The encounter that CYE most hopes to foster is one with Jesus Christ.

“To encounter Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ is alive and well and He’s a person, and CYE seeks to foster that personal relationship with Jesus Christ for whoever walks through their doors on this campus,” Lowery said.

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