Archives for March 2017

NFPC This Week, #704 – 3/26-4/1/2017

Of Note This Week –

Registration for the 2017 NFPC Convocation

Although registration continues for the NFPC Convocation in Anaheim, CA, for hotel room reservations please call Debbie Hodge at the Majestic Garden Hotel: (714) 234-2411 for hotel room availability and rate. The guaranteed room rate of $139.00 plus applicable taxes has expired.


The Spring 2017 issue of Touchstone [Vol. 26. No. 1] has been mailed to diocesan priests across the United States. The two featured articles are: Catholic Prison Ministry in the United States: A Long-overdue Course Correction, by Father Christian Reuter, OFM and The Challenge of Pastoring Multiple Parishes, a report on a series interviews conducted in late 2015 and early 2016 with priests in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who pastor more than one parish.  The edition is also available on our web site.  Click here.

Jesuit Father Greg Boyle to receive Notre Dame’s 2017 Laetare Medal

Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ. Photo courtesy of Notre Dame News, University of Notre Dame

Father Greg Boyle, SJ, the inspirational founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries, a social enterprise based in Los Angeles to help young people avert a life of gangs, drug abuse and street violence, will receive the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, according to a Catholic News Service report appearing on the National Catholic Reporter (March 28, 2017) web site.   

Homeboy Industries employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises. The program also provides other therapeutic and educational services, tattoo removal and work readiness and job training.

In a statement announcing the award on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday, Notre Dame president, Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, said, “For nearly 30 years, Father Boyle has served men and women who have been incarcerated and involved with gangs, and, in doing so, has helped them to discover the strength and hope necessary to transform their lives,”

“Father Boyle’s solidarity with our sisters and brothers at the margins of society offers an inspiring model of faith in action. We are grateful for the witness of his life and honored to bestow this award on him,” Father Jenkins added.

The university established the Laetare award in 1883 as an American counterpart of the Golden Rose, a papal honor that dates to before the 11the century. The medal has been awarded annually at the university to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrates the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity. It will be presented at the university’s commencement ceremony on May 21.

For the entire NCR report, click here.

Supreme Court to weigh in on religiously affiliated hospitals and pension exemption issue

Several religious media outlets reported this week that on March 27 the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton, a case that involved legal challenges to the pension plans of several Catholic or Christian hospital systems.

According to Religion News Service (March 27, 2017), religious institutions are now exempt from federal law that protects pensions. The law is called the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

The employees who sued the hospitals, two with Catholic ties and one with a Lutheran affiliation, say they deserve the same pension protections afforded to other workers not employed by churches, which both defendants and plaintiffs agree are exempted by ERISA.

The case has implications for Catholic institutions in that if the hospitals lose they could face retroactive penalties totaling billions of dollars. Ultimately, the ruling would affect an estimated 1 million employees working in religious ministries.

According to the National Catholic Register (March 30, 2017), the case hinges on dueling interpretations of Congress’ intent when it passed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which set standards for funding and insurance for corporate pensions. When a group of religious orders challenged the law, Congress approved a limited exemption for church plans.

The Register report goes on to note, the Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether ERISA’s “1974’s church-plan exemption applies so long as a pension plan is maintained by an otherwise-qualifying church-affiliated organization, or whether the exemption applies only if, in addition, a church initially established the plan.” The Catholic and Christian hospitals claim that ERISA’s religious exemption includes church pension plans initiated by houses of worship as well as those established by religious agencies.

For the RNS report, click here.

For the National Catholic Register report, click here.

Becoming Confident Catholics: 5 Confidence Boosters to Share with Wobbly, Wounded, and Weakened Catholics

Professional Development Webinar Series presents – Becoming Confident Catholics: 5 Confidence Boosters to Share with Wobbly, Wounded, and Weakened Catholics, April 4

Ave Maria Press in partnership with NFPC, NALM, NCCL, and NACFLM presents, Becoming Confident Catholics: 5 Confidence Boosters to Share with Wobbly, Wounded, and Weakened Catholics

When – Tuesday, April 4, 3:00 – 4:00 pm EDT

Presenter – Pat Gohn, author and catechist will discuss five faith strongholds where discouraged and weary Catholics can place their trust.

For more information and to register, click here.

Everyone Leads: How to Revitalize the Catholic Church

In Everyone Leads: How to Revitalize the Catholic Church, Chris Lowney considers five transformational principles to upend the “precipitous slide that will turn catastrophic unless reversed by fundamental changes in strategy, culture and leadership style.” He proposes an “EASTeR” strategy of five    transformational principles:

  • Be Entrepreneurial
  • Be Accountable
  • Serve
  • Transform, and
  • Reach out

Lowney offers real-life examples and outlines strategies that anyone can employ to strengthen the church. Available for the discounted price of $17.47 (30% off the regular price of $24.95) from Rowman & Littlefield. 15200 NBN Way, Bldg. C, Blue Ridge Summit, PA 17214. Tel: Toll free: (800) 462-6420 ext. 3023, Local: (717) 794-3800. Fax: (800) 338-4550. Local fax: (717) 794-3803. The Special Sales department can be reached at [email protected]. Web site:  For an order form in PDF, click here. Use Promo code: RLFANDF30.

The American Catholic Almanac

The American Catholic Almanac, by Brian Burch and Emily Stimpson is now available in paperback.  As we wrote when first reviewed in Sept. 2014, this volume could be considered a “must have” for interested Catholic readers. The book is subtitled: A Daily Reader of Patriots, Saints, Rouges and Ordinary People who Changed the United States. The volume in not your typical Catholic history book. The authors put together a day page-a-day account of various Catholic men and women, many rarely heard of before, who had a significant impact on the development of Catholicism in the US. There are three Appendices. Appendix A is a list of American Saints (listed by date of birth, death and feast day), Blesseds, and Venerables (listed by date of birth and death). Appendix B is a list of US dioceses and dates of their founding. Appendix C is a list of US minor basilicas, with dates of designation by the Holy See.  Available $16.00 (also available in e-book format) 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:

ACP Coordinating Board Award presented to NFPC

In accepting one of the 2017 Association of Chicago Priests Coordinating Board Awards on Feb. 26, NFPC president, Father Tony Cutcher, thanked ACP for charting the course for the founding of NFPC.  Father Cutcher, who drove in from Dayton, Ohio to receive the award, acknowledged the thrust of Vatican II, especially its Decree on Priestly Life and Ministry, Presbyterorum Ordinis, to form “a body or Senate …. to give the bishop effective assistance in the administration of the diocese.” This was Vatican II’s call for the formation of diocesan presbyteral councils. NFPC took ACP’s idea and made it national forming a National Federation of Priests’ Councils. The award was presented at ACP’s 50th annual Mardi Gras.

NFPC was founded in Chicago in 1968. Father Pat O’Malley, a founder of ACP was NFPC’s first president. Father O’Malley died in 2013 at the age of 81.

Many services in place today that affect bishops and priests in their lives and work are present because of the prompting, sharing of resources, and advocacy of NFPC including: due process, priest personnel assignment, priests’ compensation, income tax and retirement issues and much more.

The Association of Chicago Priests, a charter member of NFPC, took the first steps in bringing these issues front and center in light of Vatican II’s teaching. NFPC took the ball and moved it up the court and currently represents 69 diocesan presbyteral councils.

The Coordinating Board awards are presented to individuals and groups within the Archdiocese in recognition and appreciation for their outstanding contributions to the life of the Church of Chicago.

I am the on-going formation director for the Diocese of Saginaw. We are looking for someone who can help us facilitate a discussion of future ministry as we look at a declining number of priests. We had just finished a process where we reduced the number of parishes in our diocese from 105 to 56. Now we are looking at the sacramental ministry needs of the parishes with the number of priests we project. If you wish to contact me via phone, I can be reached at (989) 799-2460, x1. Thank you.

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Please remove the following from your mail distribution. He is no longer in the Diocese of Wilmington… Rev. Salvador Magana, Diocese of Wilmington, PO Box 2030, Wilmington, DE 19899-2030. Thank you.