Archives for May 2015

NFPC This Week, #614 – 5/24-5/30/2015

Of Note This Week –

39 Days on Little Diomede

Fr. Ross Tozzi. Photo courtesy of Robert Soolook, Little Diomede, AK

Fr. Ross Tozzi. Photo courtesy of Robert Soolook, Little Diomede, AK

Last February, NFPC This Week profiled Father Ross Tozzi’s visit to one of his parishes in the Fairbanks diocese. The title of the story is: “Priest’s visit to Alaskan island turns into a month’s odyssey.”

Father Ross now has written a compelling account of his odyssey (with some great photos) for The Alaskan Shepherd [Vol. 53, No. 2, March-April 2015], the newsletter of the Diocese of Fairbanks.  Fr. Ross’ ministry is a reminder of Pope Francis’ words that some say got him elected Pontiff. Then Cardinal Bergoglio said the Church must not be “self-referential” but, “[We] must get out of ourselves and go toward the periphery.”

Father Ross is an NFPC Board member and represents the Province of Anchorage on the Council of Consultors. Click here for the PDF of The Alaskan Shepherd.

“Fraternity, minority” key words in pope’s message to Franciscans

In his meeting with delegates to the general chapter of the Order of Friars Minor, Pope Francis reflected on the two elements of identity of the religious order.

“The perspective of mercy is incomprehensible to those who do not recognize themselves as ‘minor’: that is, as small, needy and sinners before God,” he said.

“Minority also means coming out of ourselves, of leaving behind our preconceptions and personal views; it also means going beyond structures – that are of course useful if used wisely – and beyond our habits and certainties, to bear witness to real closeness to the poor, needy and marginalized, with an authentic attitude of sharing and service.”

Regarding the aspect of ‘fraternity’, the Holy Father said that is essential in giving witness to the Gospel. The Pope gave the example of the early Christians, who left people in awe because they were united in love.

For a Catholic News Service (May 26, 2015) summary on the meeting with Pope Francis, click here.

For the pope’s entire address to the Franciscans from Zenit News Agency (May 26, 2015), click here.

5 Rockville Centre priests and seminarians bike for vocations

Rock_cyclistsFive Rockville Center priests and seminarians are in the midst of their 1,400-mile cycling trek from St. Augustine, Florida to Rockville Centre, NY to promote vocations to the priesthood. They are stopping along the way and being greeted enthusiastically by parishioners and supporters of all kinds. Check out their itinerary and updated videos at:

Professional Development Webinar Series, Unleashed for Ministry, June 2

Ave Maria Press in partnership with NFPC, NALM and NCCL presents Unleashed for Ministry

Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

S_CorbittPresenter – Sonja Corbitt

In this webinar, Sonja Corbitt, author of Unleashed: How to Receive Everything the Holy Spirit Wants to Give You, offers some surprising yet powerful tools that can help parish leaders discover ways in which to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit in effective leadership and ministry formation educational efforts.   

For more information and to register, click here.

Camerado, I Give You My Hand

CameradoCamerado, I Give You My Hand, by Maura Poston Zagrans is a about a Father David Link’s ministry as a prison chaplain in Indiana. Ordained for the Diocese of Gary, Indiana at the age of 71 in 2008, Father Dave is a widow, father, grandfather, and attorney. He was dean of the University of Notre Dame School of Law for twenty-four years. His story is compelling and inspiring. Active in civil rights since the 1960s, Father Dave is cofounder of he Center for the Homeless in South Bend, Ind.  But the nexus of this volume is about his career as a prison chaplain. The front cover flap sums this book up well: “This is a book about the value of human Life and the transformative power of compassion.” For a YouTube video of Fr. Link from The Christophers, click here. Available in hardcover for $22.00 from Image Books, a Division of Random House, 12264 Oracle Blvd. Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. Tel: (800) 733-3000. E-mail: [email protected]. Web site:

A Still and Quiet Conscience: The Archbishop Who Challenged a Pope, a President, and a Church

HunthausenA Still and Quiet Conscience: The Archbishop Who Challenged a Pope, a President, and a Church, by John A. McCoy is a biography of former Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, who led the Western Washington archdiocese from 1975 to 1991. What’s most interesting about this book is that it was two decades in the making, but shelved during the previous two papacies. “And then along came Francis,” as McCoy states in the Prologue. Things then changed. The volume takes readers on a journey from Archbishop Hunthausen’s tax protests against nuclear weapons to the apostolic visitation by Cardinal James Hickey and the subsequent fallout. McCoy conducted interviews with Archbishop Hunthausen, which certainly gives the volume heft. Very interesting and well chronicled. Archbishop Hunthausen received NFPC’s Touchstone award in 1986. Available for $26.00 from Orbis Books, P.O. Box 302, Maryknoll, NY 10545. Tel: (800) 258-5838. Fax: (914) 941-7005. E-mail: [email protected]. Web site:

St. Peter’s Bones: How the Relics of the First Pope Were Lost and Found … and Then Lost and Found Again

Peter_BoneSt. Peter’s Bones: How the Relics of the First Pope Were Lost and Found … and Then Lost and Found Again, by Thomas Craughwell traces the archaeological search for the remains of St. Peter. The volume has features of history, a spy thriller, and a research report. Readers interested in Catholic Church history will find this volume interesting––even fascinating. The idea of venerating relics is an absorbing preoccupation across religious identities. Archaeology has had a formidable effect on Catholic study.  As stated in a promotion for the book: “In this riveting history, facts, traditions, and faith collide to reveal the investigation, betrayals, and mystery behind St. Peter’s burial place?” Available for $13.99 from Image Books, a Division of Random House, 12264 Oracle Blvd. Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921. Tel: (800) 733-3000. E-mail: [email protected]. Web site:

John Carroll University offers Graduate Certificate Program in Spiritual Wellness & Counseling

J_CarrollThe Catholic Universe Bulletin (April 10, 2015), the Cleveland diocesan newspaper profiled a five-course Graduate Certificate Program in Spiritual Wellness and Counseling developed by Dr. Cecile Brennan, a licensed counselor and chairperson of the department of counseling at John Carroll.

The program was initiated because Dr. Brennan believes that the spiritual side of counseling has often been dismissed or downplayed during counseling sessions. In the profile she gives an example of an older lady that was referred to her by her parish priest. The lady had been known to pray when she had a problem. She was told by her counselor, “You need to quit praying and start doing something.” She was very offended by this. “Prayer was seen as not appropriate, yet it was something she had always done.”

“That type of thing happens more that you would expect,” Dr. Brennan added.

The program is meant to broaden the understanding of the helping process, and to ensure that professionals have a more nuanced view of spirituality, counseling and the complexity of the whole person.

For more on the John Carroll University Spiritual Wellness and Counseling Certificate, call (216) 397-1987, or click here.

Wages & worker rights in red & blue

Harold Meyerson, in this morning’s Washington Post, writes about the growing red state versus blue state divide regarding the treatment of worker remuneration and workers’ rights. In blue states, the minimum wage is going up and union rights are largely being protected. In red states, right-to-work laws are driving wages down and busting unions. What we are seeing is a renegotiation of the social contract.

What we are also seeing is one of the benefits of America’s federal system: The states are again becoming laboratories in democracy. State and local initiatives to raise the minimum wage are succeeding while federal action is stalled. This is not unprecedented. When the nation fell into the grip of the Great Depression, Herbert Hoover promised prosperity was just around the corner. In the state of New York, the governor adopted programs to put people to work, and crafted a rudimentary social safety net. That governor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, would replace Hoover in the White House in 1933, and the trial balloons launched in Albany became the New Deal, one of the most successful renegotiations of the social contract in American history.

Indiana tried to be a laboratory of democracy earlier this year when the GOP legislature decided to hold the line on the effects of same sex marriage, unfortunately using an especially aggressive version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as the vehicle. That experiment did not turn out so well for its authors. Intense corporate pressure was brought to bear and, within a week, the legislature had modified the state’s newly minted RFRA to make clear it could not be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

The legislators and the governor of the Hoosier state did not have a change of heart, they had a change of interest, and American democracy is built on the belief that enlightened self-interest can compete and self-regulate the polity so as to avoid the specter of tyranny. We know longer fear King George III, but there are other tyrannical threats to our democracy today, the Koch Brothers and the Sheldon Adelsons of the world who wish to purchase democracy by funding sympathetic candidates and enacting laws that conform to their ideological agenda. The effort to enact voter restriction laws is the most explicit, and explicitly ugly, attempt to renegotiate the social contract.

How will corporate America react to the changing, diversified landscape of worker wages and workers’ rights? Will large corporations flee the blue states and head to the red ones? I doubt it. They will, instead, put to the test Henry Ford’s belief that the way to be really successful at selling cars was to make sure they were cheap enough for the people making them to be able to afford them. In the short run, corporate profits might take a hit on account of increased payrolls but, depending on the product, corporate profits might score a win by having more customers able to afford their products.

This hoped-for outcome – that increasing the minimum wage, with its consequent rise in wages for all, leading to a more robust economy, with more widespread prosperity – will not appear over night. Most large corporations pay wages that are far above the minimum wage, but raising minimum wages always, over time, and not usually too long of a time, raises all wages. Similarly, if large corporations pay more, smaller firms have to follow suit, if not at first, pretty quickly, if they wish to continue to retain their workforce. Who knows? We may even see large corporations leading the way in finally recognizing that respecting workers’ right will, in the long term, benefit their bottom line by making sure their workers, all their workers, feel included rather than alienated.

There may be a more immediate economic impact in localities and states that raise their minimum wages: The state budgets might become more balanced. The dirty secret is that all of us taxpayers currently subsidize low wage corporations by providing food stamps and other benefits to the working poor. The less the poor the workers, the fewer benefits they will need. Fiscal conservatives might learn to like the minimum wage increases just as they have embraced, at least in Nebraska, the repeal of the death penalty not so much because they think the penalty is unjust, but because its administration is insanely expensive. Turns out mass incarceration is also a budget buster, which is why some conservatives, as well as liberals, are seeking to overhaul our antiquated sentencing requirements in the criminal justice system.

Meyerson notes that the blue states are blue, and the red states red, not primarily because of economic stratification, but for demographic reasons. He focuses on racial diversity and age, but this morning, the Public Religion Research Institute also looked at nine swing states and their changing religious landscapes. If nothing else jumps out at you when you look at those numbers, consider the fact that white Christians are no longer a majority in Virginia. Home to Jerry Falwell’s and Pat Robertson’s religio-educational-media empires, the Old Dominion looks a lot more like California than it looks like South Carolina, and South Carolina increasingly looks less like it once did.

The social contract has been frayed in the new Gilded Age in which we live. But, we have been here before. As Robert Putnam continually makes clear, America responded to the social ills of the first Gilded Age magnificently, ushering in universal high school and other reforms of the Progressive Era that made America a more just society. It is time to renegotiate the social contract again, and find news solutions for a new century. Some of those solutions are already happily being tested in the states. It is always risky to predict the future, but my money is on the blue states.