Confidence – Do You Have Enough?

In Fr. Dennis Lewandowski’s search for new methods to motivate both himself and his parish staff, he found an article that prompted self-analysis.  Fr. Dennis commented: The article was about self-confidence. It started with a couple of stirring questions: How self-confident do you feel? Are you full of it, or do you wish you had more of it?

Fr. Dennis  provides a few guidelines to conduct a personal  assessment of your self confidence and self-motivation.  Use the link below to download Fr. Lewandowski’s article.

D Lewandowski for NFPC Newsletter -March 15 – 2018 (1)



Young people seen as urgent crisis at Notre Dame pre-synod conference

Katharine Argulo, Associate Director of Youth Ministry for the Archdiocese of Atlanta

A great deal of dialogue is being exchanged among Church leaders regarding ways to curtail the number of young Catholics leaving the faith they were baptized into.  Several church initiatives are underway to address the issue of “exiting” young Catholics:

In advance of the Pre-Synod meeting scheduled for late March in Rome, Notre Dame hosted a conference in early March entitled “Cultures of Formation: Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. The goal of the conference was to “examine cultural influences shaping young people and how the church could respond or ‘create a culture’ in which it’s easier to be Catholic.”

One conference presenter, Katherine Angulo from the Atlanta Archdiocese, cited a need for “greater resources, including fair salaries, for those in youth and young adult ministry.”  Angulo continued: “The U.S. church does ‘okay’ with ministry for high school and college students, but does very little for young adults and middle school students.  That latter demographic is important, as the median age of a young person who leaves the church is now 13.”

A Pre-Synod meeting will be held in Rome from March 19-24, in preparation for the October Synod of Bishops “Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment.”  Young adults from across the globe have been invited as delegates regardless of their religious affiliation.  A website was set-up allowing young people to voice their opinions on church matters through social media, primarily Facebook and Twitter. This pre-synod meeting is in keeping with Pope Francis’ wish that the October synod not be just a meeting among bishops, but one that will include young adult voices.  Results of the pre-synod will be available to the Bishops prior to the October gathering.

Click here to review article on the Notre Dame conference published in the National Catholic Reporter


Fr. Thomas Berg: “Welcoming the Wounded”

“To those who have been hurt by the Church, we must acknowledge their pain and be a witness to Christ’s tenderness,” Father Thomas Berg wrote in a recent article published in The Priest Magazine. Fr. Berg is a Priest in the Archdiocese of New York, and Vice-Rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.  He is also the author of “Hurting in the Church: A Way Forward for Wounded Catholics, which he wrote “as a guide to healing for those who have been hurt in the church, and an examination of conscience for the rest of us.”

The reasons why Catholics (especially young adults) become disaffected with their faith might be attributed to multiple, complicated issues, many of which have been well documented in the past including: discomfort with organized, institutional religion; loss of faith; the perception that faith is incompatible with our scientific culture; the clergy sex abuse scandal and traumatic life events.

Fr. Berg’s article however, calls attention to another reason Catholics leave the faith  – a hurtful experience in the church.  Fr. Berg commented:  “Personal experience leads me to believe that this portion of the Catholic population is much larger than we would care to imagine.” He continued: “the sad reality is that there has been plenty of hurt to go around in our parishes, schools, chancery offices and ministries.  And we need to acknowledge the ugly truth that the hurts – and the consequent disaffection with the church – are more frequent that we might want to admit. To recognize this and call a spade a spade is not to be judgmental; it’s just to be honest.”

There is no “quick-fix” technique to return disaffected Catholics to the faith. However, Fr. Berg suggests possible long-term solutions parish leadership and the laity can undertake to welcome our “wounded” sisters and brothers home.  Included in his suggestions is Pope Francis’ concept of our local churches acting as “field hospitals,” ready to heal the wounded.

Click here to review Fr. Berg’s full article in The Priest – published by Our Sunday Visitor


Dear regular Mass-goers: the seats at the end of the pew aren’t for you.

Jesuit Father Jack Bentz knows the drill: “I was raised Catholic. I know the strategy. The first-class seats are at the end of the pew.”

Fr. Bentz is the Campus Minister for St. Paul Catholic Student Center at Boise State University. Last year his work required extensive travel and stated he often found himself attending Sunday Mass at a different Parish each week. Fr. Bentz observed that regular Mass-goers who sit at the end of the pew might be undermining well-planned, official greetings designed to create a warm and welcoming parish environment. Greeters are available at the entrance; visitors are acknowledged from the pulpit; and some parishes present small gifts to newcomers, ranging from cups or pens engraved with the Parish name.  Fr. Bentz commented: “That was nice. I was being welcomed. But it was not working. Why? I think it is because I had to climb over people to get into a pew.”

Fr. Bentz continued by sharing his thoughts on the negative effect “end sitting” may have on people seeking a new church home:  “Every weekend, in every Catholic Church in the United States, new people arrive hungry for a community to call home…. If they cannot find a place to sit, they will not be back. And we will never have a chance to speak the saving Word to them, because, in spite of the official welcome, they understood this was not going to be their church. It was already taken by the guardians at the end of the pew.”

Click here to review full details in America – The Jesuit Review

Catholic leaders praise Stephen Hawking for his contribution to science and dialogue

Catholic leadership globally paid tribute to Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author, following his death on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at the age of 76.

Stephen Hawking was born on January 8, 1942 and educated at the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge. He was a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and well respected among numerous religious leaders for his contributions to the field of science.

Despite the debilitating effects of motor neurone disease (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) Hawking continued his work in the scientific field and following the loss of his ability to speak, he communicated through a speech generating device.

To review tributes to Stephen Hawking, please click on these two links:

America Magazine

Catholic Herald

Priest who served Brooklyn parishes found murdered in Colombia

Father Dagoberto Noguera, 68, who served at a number of parishes in Brooklyn before his retirement, was murdered at his residence in Mamatoco, Columbia on March 10, 2018.

Fr. Noguera was born in Ecuador and educated in Colombia where he was ordained in 1985. He came to the Brooklyn Diocese in 1990 and was formally accepted as a priest of the diocese in 2002. He served at several Brooklyn parishes before retiring for medical reasons in 2014 and returning to Colombia.  His health situation caused him to rely on a wheelchair.

There are rumors circulating that his murder was committed by Venezuelan immigrants, to whom Fr. Noguera had served food.  Although law enforcement officials have not confirmed this rumor, two suspects were videotaped on surveillance cameras at a store purchasing items with a credit card stolen from Fr. Noguera.

Residents in Mamatoco remembered Fr. Noguera “as kind; always caring for others; and dedicated to charity work with people in need.”  A Memorial Mass will be celebrated for him on March 23, 2018 at St. Anthony of Padua-St. Alphonsus Church in Brooklyn.

Please select this link to review further details in Crux

Catholic schools add prayer to school walkout day over gun violence

Photo courtesy of Newsweek

Catholic students participating in the National School Walkout to raise awareness of gun violence will receive support from a number of Catholic institutions. Many dioceses across the country are encouraging their Catholic students to be a part of “the national voice” and commemorate the walkout with prayer, a prayer service or Mass.

Today’s protest was organized by “Empower Now” to coincide with the one-month anniversary of the school shooting on Ash Wednesday in Parkland, Florida.  Organizers are calling for students nationwide to walk out of their classes for seventeen minutes to honor the seventeen people massacred on February 14, 2018.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, recorded a message for Newark students in which he commented:  “Your energy and your unselfish concern will be heard in the halls of our government. It’s true that we can ban all of the guns in the world and never finally fully achieve peace without a commitment of our hearts. But we do need legal protections, and we have to ask questions about the type of firearms and their proliferation in our country today. I’m glad you’re asking questions, and I’m glad you’re united, and I’m glad you are a people of faith.”

Click here to read full coverage in Crux.



Pope Francis – Five Years After His Election

(Photo: Pixabay)

It was five years ago today (March 13, 2013) that Jorge Mario Bergoglio walked onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica as the newly-elected Pope Francis. After five ballots, Francis became the  leader of approximately 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. Francis’ election as Pope was historical because he was the first Latin American, first Jesuit and the first to take the name of “Francis.”

From the onset, Pope Francis dispensed with tradition and perhaps set the tone for his pontificate in his first public action. Before extending his first blessing, he asked for prayers stating: “Now, I would like to give you a blessing, but first I want to ask you for a favor. Before the bishop blesses the people, I ask that you pray to the Lord so that he blesses me. This is the prayer of the people who are asking for the blessing of their bishop.”

In the past five years, Pope Francis’ leadership has had a profound impact on the Catholic Church and greatly influenced the secular world.  Many Catholics and Vatican observers are viewing his fifth anniversary as sort of a “Francis Report Card Day.”  Assessments or criticism of Pope Francis’ accomplishments, achievements or unfinished work often depend on who is doing the observing, i.e., “the eye of the beholder.”

John Allen, a long-time Vatican reporter/observer, noted: “Amid the rattle and hum of clashing world views and agenda, is there anything that can be said about Francis’ record after five years that’s truly objective? Perhaps it’s this: Love this maverick Pope or hate him, he’s undeniably relevant.”

“Francis at five years: Love him or hate him, this is one relevant pope”  Click here to review John Allen’s article in Crux. 

James Carroll, a regular journalist/contributor to the New Yorker Magazine, has written a commemorative article assessing Pope Francis’s leadership from the secular point of view.  Click here to review “The Transformative Promise of Pope Francis, Five Years On” (The New Yorker Magazine)


German Cardinal Lehmann Dies at age 81

Cardinal Karl Lehmann, former President of the German Bishops’ Conference and a respected theologian, died Sunday, March 11, 2018 at age 81.  He passed away at his home in Mainz following a period of ill-health and the effects of a stroke he suffered last September.

Lehmann was born on May 16, 1936 in Sigmaringen, Germany and ordained a priest in Rome in 1963. While in Rome, Cardinal Lehmann participated in sessions of the Second Vatican Council. He was appointed Bishop of Mainz in 1983 and served as President of the German Bishops’ Conference from 1987 to 2008, when he resigned because of health issues. St. John Paul II elevated him to Cardinal in 2001.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, current President of the German Bishops Conference, in paying tribute to Cardinal Lehmann said “The church of Germany is bowing humbly in front of a personality who influenced the Catholic church worldwide.”

A Funeral Mass is scheduled for March 21 at the Mainz Cathedral.

Click here to review additional details in the National Catholic Reporter


USCCB Urges Concrete Actions to Address Scourge of Gun Violence

In the wake of the gun-related deaths of seventeen students on Ash Wednesday at a Florida high school, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a statement on March 5, 2018, calling U S Lawmakers to “an honest and practical dialogue around a series of concrete proposals—not partisanship and overheated rhetoric.”  The USCCB statement was developed by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Chairman, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., Chairman, Committee on Catholic Education.

For a number of years, the USCCB has been a strong supporter of sensible gun policies, including a “federal ban on assault weapons, limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines, further criminalizing gun trafficking, certain limitations on the purchase of handguns…”  Their position was reconfirmed in the March 5 release stating: “We also continue our decades-long advocacy for common-sense gun measures as part of a comprehensive approach to the reduction of violence in society and the protection of life.”

In addition, the statement responded to a Presidential proposal to arm classroom teachers by concluding:  “The idea of arming teachers seems to raise more concerns than it addresses.”

Bishops Dewane and Murry also called for increased resources and “earlier intervention” for mentally ill individuals who may be at risk for committing violent crimes.

Click here to review the full text of the March 5 USCCB statement: