of neighborhood meeting
MADISON -- Downtown residents will learn the history of St. Raphael Cathedral and options facing the Diocese of Madison following major damage from a fire at the church earlier this year.
In August Bishop Robert C. Morlino said the diocese is trying to decide whether to rebuild the cathedral and was gathering community input. The diocese has said that a decision on the cathedral will be part of a larger plan that also will look at the declining number of priests.
Capitol Neighborhoods Inc. (CNI) is sponsoring the program on Thursday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. at St. Patrick Church located at 404 E. Main St. in Madison. The program is free and open to the public. Speakers include historian Jack Holzhueter, retired from the Wisconsin Historical Society, who will speak about the history of the church, and Msgr. Paul J. Swain, rector of St. Raphael, who will address issues that are being weighed given the condition of the building and responsibilities to Catholics of the diocese.
Those attending the meeting will have a chance to ask questions and express concern and their interest in the diocesan decision.
Mothers of Preschoolers meet in Stoughton
STOUGHTON -- St. Ann's MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) At Night will meet Thursday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. in the gathering area at St. Ann Church. Mothers of children birth through kindergarten are invited. "Language Development - How Your Child Communicates" will be discussed by Melissa Schreier. There is a $2 fee and scholarships are available. For information, call Laura Trotter at 608-877-8968.
on Iowa radio station
CARROLL, Iowa -- Carroll's newest FM radio station - KYMJ 103.1 - urges its listeners to bridge the gap between their faith and everyday life with inspirational programming from Relevant Radio, the nation's largest Catholic radio network.
"It took five years to get this done," said David Prenger, founder of the St. Barnabas Educational Association, which owns KYMJ.
Carroll, population 10,000, is located in west-central Iowa about 70 miles northwest of Des Moines and northeast of Omaha. There are two parishes in this predominantly Catholic community that is part of the Diocese of Sioux City.
"The response since we went on the air has been remarkable from both Catholics, Christians, and others," said Prenger.
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An Apostolate Christmas
MONROE -- The gymnasium of Monroe Senior High School was packed November 30 with more than 1,100 people, attendees sitting at tables and volunteers in "Campion's Champions" shirts milling about; the Diocesan Choir stood in the balcony, along with countless others here for the Mass and to volunteer.
They were all here to celebrate the Apostolate to the Handicapped's Christmas Party. "He Calls Us Each by Name" was the theme of this 39th annual event that brought together people from around southern Wisconsin for Mass with Bishop Emeritus William H. Bullock and 10 other priests, a dinner, and fellowship.
Msgr. Thomas Campion, director of the Apostolate, was there as well, greeting the guests with hugs and handshakes and addressing all the attendees after the Mass.
Calling us by name
We live in a world of words, said Bishop Bullock in his homily. Words can build or destroy; excite or dampen our enthusiasm.
"Our given personal name - our family name, our baptismal name - is special to us. We cherish the name given us from a personal, human point of view," he said. "But when God calls us into his kingdom, he will give us a new name for all eternity. And that name will describe our relationship with God and his love for us - and our love for him.
"God calls us by name," said the bishop. "The poet and psalmist tell us God whispers in our joy and shouts in our pain. But we hear him say, 'I love you with an everlasting love. I call you by name that no one else has because it describes our relationship, in love.'"
Monsignor Campion has called us by name, he said. "He calls us friend and a friend is one who divides our grief and doubles our joy. A friend rejoices when good things happen and are with us when sadness and hard times come on us. A friend is a true other self."
Simple words, he said, must remain part of our relationship with one another and with God.
Two words describe the Apostolate to the Handicapped and the people it serves, said Monsignor Campion: unconditional love.
He spoke of two people whose funerals he had attended recently, who were examples of this love without conditions: one who tended to give a sloppy kiss with Oreo cookies dribbling down his chin, and another whose kiss was more of a bite. "But whether it was a sloppy cookie or a bite, it was a manifestation of unconditional love," he said.
Sometimes people don't understand what the Apostolate is about, said Monsignor Campion. "The reason for the Apostolate to the Handicapped begins with you. You're the teachers in word and example of what is unconditional love.
"Too often we look at issues and we forget to look at faces," he said. "If you haven't experienced this day, you won't know what it's about."
Giving and receiving, he said: "You put the two together and you've got humanity."
He thanked the volunteers and the priests and everyone who had served, and thanked the elderly and people with disabilities who had come: "We thank you and we love you," he said. "We are impressed by you . . . how do you do it? Teach us."
The event was filled with the joy of Christmas - especially obvious when Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus joined the party, giving hugs and even dancing to the music with people who came up to greet them.
Monsignor Campion does marvelous things, said Marjorie Meligan, of Monroe, while eating
dinner with her husband Seal. The two are supporters of the Apostolate and had been to the Christmas party before. "He does look out for the handicapped; God must give him the power to help."
Volunteers, too, talked of the experience.
"You have to be here to enjoy the awesomeness of it," said Erlene McKenna, a volunteer with the Monroe Clinic. "It's so godly; it's so heartwarming to see all these people of different faiths come together."
"I go home and say, 'Thank God!'" said Marge Will, a retired nurse from the Monroe Clinic. "It's such an uplifting experience."
As she stood in line with her tray, waiting to get more food to serve, Naomi Gordee, a member of the Monroe FFA, said that the first time she volunteered at the Apostolate, "I was like, they want me to do what?"
But now she's in her seventh year of carrying trays, serving, and cleaning up, she said. "I like it a lot. I like talking to the people."
Many of the volunteers who came to serve were regulars; Ellen Marti, secretary for the Apostolate and a longtime volunteer, said that many were second-generation volunteers. There were St. Paul's University Catholic Center Knights of Columbus from Madison; Monroe FFA members; Monroe Clinic volunteers, staff, and retired staff; area high school athletes; State Assembly Rep. Brett Davis; Gail and Butch Vita of Monroe, who were playing Santa and Mrs. Claus again this year; and many others who gave their time to serve the elderly and disabilities.
"This is what Christmas is about," said Marti.
Bishop Morlino: Reports on first meeting
of WHINSEC Board of Visitors
MADISON -- At a press conference at the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center on Monday, Dec. 12, Bishop Robert C. Morlino offered a "tentative reflection" on his recent day and a half experience as a member of the Board of Visitors of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).
He emphasized that he is "not a spokesman for WHINSEC or an apologist" for the institution, which instructs civilian, military, and law enforcement leaders from throughout the Western Hemisphere.
He offered the reflection based on his attendance at a meeting of the board held in Fort Benning, Ga. "In the years ahead, I'll be judging whether this reflection is true. At the moment I have no reason to believe that it is not true."
Bishop Morlino said, "WHINSEC is central to combating violence and drug trafficking through training local military and police, and facilitating security cooperation. WHINSEC also trains to offer humanitarian assistance in case of natural disasters.
"Should WHINSEC close, there is compelling evidence that other countries want to be prepared to fill the vacuum, which would be a threat to U.S. national security. Accomplishing our mission through WHINSEC is better than any other option," he said.
Bishop Morlino also said "there is indisputable evidence that at least some of the allegations lodged against the former School of the Americas (SOA - the predecessor of WHINSEC) - are not true."
The bishop said he felt his "concern for morality, truth, and human rights was warmly welcomed by the command and soldiers of WHINSEC, and by the Board of Visitors."
He was unanimously elected vice-chairman to assist the newly-elected Chairman, The Honorable José Sorzano, U.S. Ambassador and former Deputy Permanent Observer to the U.N.
Bishop Morlino said his role would be to assist the chairman and serve as chair in his absence.
Bishop Morlino emphasized that the Board of Visitors is an "outside evaluation" board. As a bishop with a doctorate in moral theology and experience as a seminary teacher, his appointment to be an outside evaluator "makes sense."
The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army upon the recommendation of Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, archbishop for Military Services in the U.S., appointed the bishop to the board.
Bishop Morlino released a letter by Archbishop O'Brien written in late 2003, answering critics of SOA /WHINSEC. Archbishop O'Brien says that the school "has stoutly denied any advocacy or tolerance of violence in its course presentations. Of the 64,000 who went through SOA, less than one half of one percent have been accused of serious misdeeds."
Open to scrutiny
Archbishop O'Brien said, "WHINSEC's doors and documentation remain wide open for review." He said the school "claims it has nothing to hide."
Bishop Morlino reiterated that claim, saying "WHINSEC is open to public scrutiny." He said he plans to "do his homework," study WHINSEC, and make visits in the future to observe its program.
The Board of Visitors issues a report to Congress. In the future, Bishop Morlino said the board would meet in Washington, D.C, rather than at Fort Benning so that members Senator Carl Levin and Representative Loretta Sanchez can participate more fully.
Bishop Morlino also noted that Fr. Alvarez, a Jesuit priest who is dean of the Law School at Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Columbia, and a human rights professor and activist, is a regular collaborator in the WHINSEC program.
WHINSEC enforces a "zero tolerance" policy for human rights violations. Candidates are chosen by their local government and "very carefully and strictly vetted both by the local embassy in their country of origin and by the State Department" he said.
Planning director reports 'wonderful response'
MADISON -- The Diocese of Madison has shipped a total of 46,556 in-pew surveys to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
"We've had a wonderful response," said Kate Wiskus, director of the diocesan Office of Planning. "All but one parish in the diocese sent in surveys. The exception was St. Malachy (Clyde), which does not have weekend liturgies at this time."
Catholic adults completed the surveys at their parishes in November. The surveys are one step in the development of a comprehensive pastoral strategic plan scheduled for completion in the fall of 2006. The last strategic plan for the diocese was created 10 years ago.
Wiskus said CARA is expected to take about 10 weeks to work on the surveys. CARA will report back to the diocese in March.
"We'll then have regional meetings to follow up on the in-pew survey with a CARA representative," she explained. "Between May and August we'll have regional meetings of inter-parish collaborative planning groups on options for parish services for the Strategic Plan."
A Diocesan Strategic Planning Committee will then meet to draft the plan. An announcement of the plan and a celebration of the diocese "moving forward in faith" will be held in the fall of 2006.
Wiskus noted that all parishes would receive their own report on the in-pew survey. This will indicate the responses from their own parishioners and a sampling of comments. She said all comments were photocopied and will be captured in a Word document and given to parishes.
Wiskus said the diocese is "compelled" to be involved in this strategic planning process in order to ensure the future of Christ's church in the diocese. "We are facing very real challenges as the number of faithful increase, the centers of population shift, and the number of active priests declines. The planning process is intended to identify how we can best serve the people of the Diocese of Madison in the future."
CARA has already done a demographic portrait providing a snapshot of the 11 counties of the diocese based on population and economic factors. It also presents projections on growth and decline.
The study also provides deanery and parish level characteristics based on statistics provided by the parishes themselves. "This study is being used to gain a broad understanding of the specific challenges of each county and the vitality of the parishes within those counties," said Wiskus.
A survey of priests of the diocese was also taken. "The needs and concerns of the presbyterate must be factored into any strategic plan," said Wiskus. "The data will be used to ascertain the feasibility of and support for various options for providing for the pastoral life of the church at the local level."
The in-pew parishioner survey will provide information on the vitality of parishes as well as needs and concerns of parishioners. This data will be used to plan for the future needs of the parish. Rankings by parishioners of diocesan ministries will also help to identify diocesan resources necessary to not only support the ministry of the bishop but also the health and vitality of the parish communities.