Wednesday, January 30, 2013

This can be done

Lavish new church, meeting center to serve USC Catholics

Supporters hope the complex will become a religious and architectural landmark for the school and the neighborhood south of downtown Los Angeles.

                                                     Workers make finishing touches in the new Our Savior Church in Los Angeles.
December 09, 2012|By Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times
The schedule of Sunday Masses for Catholic students at USC accommodates their studying, partying and sleeping habits. Services are offered at 10:30 a.m., 7 p.m. and at 10 p.m., a popular option that is lightheartedly nicknamed the "Last Chance Mass."
Upward of 400 USC students previously attended at least one Mass a week at a now-demolished chapel just north of the university's main campus. The showing was respectable but still a small fraction of the estimated 10,000 Roman Catholic students — about a quarter of the overall enrollment — at the nonsectarian university.
Officials are expecting those numbers to rise sharply starting this week when a lavish new $29-million Catholic church and meeting center formally open their doors. Supporters also hope the complex will become a religious and architectural landmark for the school and the neighborhood south of downtown Los Angeles.
On Sunday, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez is scheduled to lead a Mass to consecrate the 300-seat church and inaugurate the adjacent student activity building, called the USC Caruso Catholic Center. Our Savior Catholic Church is an Italian Romanesque-style structure — designed by the team that did the Grove and the Americana at Brand shopping centers — with a 76-foot bell tower, a gold-leaf apse and huge stained glass windows depicting Bible scenes and saints.
Father Lawrence Seyer, the pastor, hopes the new complex at West 32nd and Hoover streets will help "show students that their Catholic faith is something relevant to their lives. They are growing in mind and body, but we want them to grow in spirit and recognize the important things in life such as love, truth, justice and faith."
Students who drift from religion as college freshmen often embrace it again as upperclassmen, he said, adding: "They say: 'Partying was fun but I feel empty.' "
The buildings, which surround a public courtyard, are designed to attract the attention of the thousands of student pedestrians and bicyclists who are headed to campus just a block away.
"But in the end, a building is just a building. Ultimately it is the programming and community life that will make them want to become involved," Seyer said. Besides the Masses, activities will include interfaith meals and a weekly gathering to prepare and deliver food to the homeless on skid row.
The biggest donor and the new center's partial namesake is Rick Caruso, the civic activist and shopping mall developer who created the Grove in the Fairfax district and Americana at Brand in Glendale. A 1980 alumnus with two sons enrolled at USC, Caruso gave $7.5 million to the church and center and has pledged $1 million more for programming, officials said.
So far, about $36 million has been raised in all, including $7 million for an endowment, mainly from alumni. The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles owns and runs the complex, which is affiliated with USC's Office of Religious Life.
As an undergraduate, Caruso said, he barely noticed the previous Catholic center and instead attended Sunday Mass with his family in Beverly Hills. With USC student life more focused these days on and around the campus, he said he wanted to help create "a statement that faith is important, that Catholicism is relevant in your life however you view Catholicism."
The church has an exterior of Italian travertine, marble floors and altar and interior wooden arches reaching 50 feet. On a recent day, craftsmen from the Judson Studios in Highland Park were installing some of their final stained glass windows, each 24 feet high, illustrating the Beatitudes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.
Suspended over the altar is a 7-foot bronze sculpture of the crucified Christ, created by Christopher Slatoff. Along the side walls, the 14 Stations of the Cross feature original oil paintings by artist Peter Adams, who traveled to Jerusalem to research the scenes.
Caruso said he is not a fan of the starkly modern Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. So for the USC project, he was instrumental in hiring Elkus Manfredi Architects of Boston, the firm whose designs of the Grove and the Americana triggered much debate about re-creating historical styles.
Caruso said he wanted the church, which echoes elements of a 13th century sanctuary, to have "a feeling of permanence and solidity ... that calms you down and that allows you to contemplate, to pray and to think." Contemporary design, he said, "would not have conveyed that."
Around the country over the last decade, the trend at colleges has been to build or renovate interfaith chapels, rather than ones devoted to one denomination, according to the Rev. Lucy Forster-Smith, national president of the Assn. of College and University Religious Affairs.
At USC, in contrast, the motivation seems to be creating "a very compelling and exciting space that would be inviting to USC students" and help them become the next generation of Catholic activists, said Forster-Smith, a Presbyterian minister who is the chaplain at Macalester College in Minnesota.
Sergio Avelar, a USC senior who is leader of the campus Catholic community, said that some students may think the new complex is too ornate but that most are excited about the church's beauty and the well-appointed meeting rooms and library in the two-story center next door.
Avelar, who grew up in Los Angeles, said the facility will be especially important to the increasing numbers of USC students from other states and countries who cannot attend Mass at their hometown parishes. While the neighborhood-oriented St. Vincent Catholic Church is nearby at Adams Boulevard and Figueroa Street, and some USC students volunteer there, most prefer having a church adjacent to campus that caters to their own interests and schedules, such as that 10 p.m. Mass, he added.
Varun Soni, USC's dean of religious life and the first Hindu to hold such an office at an American university, said he expects the complex to become an important place for faith and activism in a neighborhood that already has an impressive array of Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu institutions.
"It will be a place for all students to think about their own faith and how that connects to their own lives and careers," Soni said.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Homily - "Team first"

Click here to listen to Sunday's homily.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cardinal Wuerl's Op Ed in the Washington Post

By Donald Wuerl,

Cardinal Donald Wuerl is archbishop of Washington.

The Catholic Church is no stranger to criticism from those who disagree with its teachings, but the petition posted recently on the White House Web site to label the church a “hate group” is beyond the pale, even in an age when an aggressive secularism seeks to marginalize the influence of religious belief.

The church has long been criticized as “too dogmatic.” Demands are constantly made that it change its 2,000-year-old teachings on marriage, family, sexuality, morality and other matters related to the truth about human beings. But even if others do not agree, the church understands that what it proclaims is revealed truth — the Word of God. The church’s teachings are timeless. They cannot be changed, even though adherence may be upsetting to some. That the church is built on a rock with fixed beliefs is a positive feature, both because it can withstand the shifting winds of public opinion and because of the cherished content of our faith itself, which fosters love among Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Although these precepts may be misunderstood by many today, the fundamental vocation of the Catholic Church is to provide the witness of love and truth to the world, including offering the voice of an informed conscience. Catholics are taught to respect the fundamental, inherent dignity of every person, each made in the image of God, and to work to establish a just society. The church teaches that it is our obligation to manifest love of neighbor, to provide charitable service to others, and to promote truth, genuine freedom and authentic humanism. We work for the poor, the oppressed and the suffering, because that is what our faith teaches we must do. There is thus a positive side to being dogmatic: The teachings and works of the church advance the common good throughout civil society. Just as our dogma is constant, so is the work it commands.

The Archdiocese of Washington is the largest nongovernmental provider of social services in our area: Seventy-five programs in 48 locations offer assistance to whoever needs it, regardless of religion, race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation. Each year, more than 100,000 people in the Washington area rely on Catholic charitable organizations for housing, food, job training, immigration assistance, legal aid, dental care, mental health care, lifespan services for those with disabilities and their families and prenatal care and assistance for vulnerable pregnant women and unwed mothers.

Catholic hospitals provide millions of dollars’ worth of uncompensated care every year to our poor and vulnerable, and Catholic schools save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually in per-pupil costs.

The church does not do these things for money or profit or because they’re nice to do. When the church treats the sick and injured, or feeds the hungry, or teaches, or provides assistance to those in need, it does so as an answer to the call made by Jesus Christ. We are obligated to do these and other works of mercy and to give voice to moral truth because He asks us to.

The church has made these and other indispensable positive contributions for two millennia. Indeed, the Catholic Church was essential to the formation of Western civilization as we know it. Scholars point out that it was the church that established the modern university and hospital systems. Modern-day music, art, architecture, economics, philosophy and our legal system all have their roots in the Catholic Church. Concepts such as natural rights and social equality, not to mention the idea that government and religion are separate spheres, were developed in Catholic thought. And it was Catholics supported by the church — with its dogmatic ideas that faith and reason are complementary and that the universe is orderly — who led the way in the sciences, including astronomy, cosmology, physics, chemistry, genetics, optics and seismology.

The church is dogmatic, and that is good — even if it means that the church is a sign of contradiction in the world and the object of animus and disdain. It is a positive, attractive feature that what we profess is unchanging and unchangeable — the good news of a love and truth that we are called to share with the world. It is good for Catholics and non-Catholics. Were the church to compromise its creed, if we were to simply go along with today’s secularized culture, not only would the church cease to be the church but the common good would suffer greatly.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Great news on sad anniversary

On Tuesday, the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we had a powerful night learning about healing after abortion with Fr Dan Leary and one of the ladies he has worked with, Tara.  Tara told her moving story of choosing life after having two abortions, and the healing she has received from Christ through Project Rachel and Fr. Dan. 

Towards the end of the night, I asked them what our students should say to their friends who want to have an abortion.  I was thinking of one student who has been in this situation for months; her friend has been considering aborting her child.  Our student has been a witness to life, more passively than actively.  As soon as I got out of the talk, I saw that the student had sent me the following email:

"hey so after a month of (her) just not talking to me, i just heard from her and she decided to keep the baby and give it up for adoption!"

God is doing awesome things through our students!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Homily: "Party on, Jesus"

Click here to listen to Sunday's homily.

Friday, January 18, 2013

March for Life crowd bigger than Inauguration?

40th March for Life crowds could top Obama Inauguration
January 10, 2013 | 2:55 pm | Modified: January 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm

The biggest crowds ever for the annual March for Life protest are expected to hit Washington January 25 as hundreds of thousands attend the 40th anniversary rally to protest the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, according to organizers.

The march, expected to attract tens of thousands more than the record 400,000 two years ago, could rival President Obama's Inauguration Day crowd, propelled by the growing youth support of efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, which the president has embraced with open arms. Obama drew 1.8 million in 2009. Just 600,000 are expected January 21st.

One critical sign of how big the march will be: Hotels pre-booked for participants sold out a month ago while many Washington hotels report lukewarm interest for rooms during the Inauguration. In 2009, hotels sold out months in advance as an excited nation readied to welcome the first black president.

Jeanne Monahan, president of the March organizer, the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, told Secrets, "We're going to have record breaking crowds."

The events will start Thursday January 24 with a youth rally. Two new events will also take place: A Saturday 5K race and a legal summit for law students interested in abortion law. What's more, for the first time the March organizers plan to place Jumbotrons on the March route. And the March is also debuting a new website.

Monahan said that the focus will be on young supporters. "The spirit will be much more youth focused," she said. About 85 percent of marchers in the past have been students. Monahan added that the number of political speakers is being scaled back, though House Speaker John Boehner is expected to make a video address and the leaders of the congressional pro-life caucus will also speak.

The event will also herald the March founder, Nellie Gray, who died last August.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Campus ministry has eternal value"

 (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia offered encouragement to campus ministers this week, assuring them their mission “matters eternally because each human soul you touch is immortal.”

 “For every Rich Young Man who turns away from Christ, there's another young woman or man who longs for something more than this world can give – something deeper, richer and lasting,” he said in his Jan. 10 keynote at the Catholic Campus Ministry Association's national convention.

“A single fruitful encounter with Jesus Christ can engage the deepest aspirations and change the entire course of a young adult’s life.”

The archbishop's comments were book ended with reflections on the relationship between 16th century Saint Thomas More and his daughter Meg. The saint formed his daughter well, and she herself was a model of courage and conviction.

“The importance of forming intelligent, committed young adults, as Thomas More inspired and formed his daughter, is the same today as it was then. Because most of you here today work with young people at a decisive time in shaping the direction of their lives, you have one of the most vital missions in the Church.”

Archbishop Chaput told the ministers that despite their differences, they share one vast pastoral problem, America's post-Christian pop culture.

He said this new culture “complicates” the task of evangelization, but that despite this, “too often in the Church we’ve held on to the same institutional patterns of organization, the same methods of preaching and teaching that worked in a religion-friendly past.”

A renewal of Catholic life is “crucial” to convincing young adults to “open their hearts to the Christian faith, the archbishop maintained.

The Church must be presented to young adults “as the living presence of Jesus Christ,” he said, and “not merely as an institution or a collection of moral rules.”

Archbishop Chaput used the Gospel account of the rich young man, who was too attached to comfort to follow Christ, to critique the naiveté of the Second Vatican Council's assumption that the “visible Church would serve as a lamp, drawing the modern world out of darkness into God’s light.”

At the same time, he said that while there are many examples of the “rich young man” on campuses today, there are also young people who do yearn for truth.

“Young people want to make a difference. And therein lies our reason to hope. Regardless of distractions and obstacles, detours and traps, young people in every age do resonate with a longing for greatness, which means they can be reached,” he said.

“The idealism, striving and seeking in the hearts of so many young adults instinctively order them toward God. No matter how black the darkness is, no matter how deep the cultural confusion, no matter how ignorant persons are of the Creator who made them, young adults at their core long to give themselves to Someone higher than themselves.”

Archbishop Chaput reminded the assembled campus ministers that their task is not merely to bring young people to “religious activities,” but to “the beauty of interior silence that enables a person to hear the will of God and entrust his or her life to Jesus Christ.”

Eucharistic adoration was offered as a central means to bring young adults to the beauty of prayerful silence.

The archbishop also exhorted his listeners to count success not only in the number of persons attending activities, but with a focus on conversion of life, “a disciplined focus on the needs of others,” and “an ongoing hunger for knowing and doing God's will.”

Archbishop Chaput concluded by encouraging campus ministers to reflect the love of Christ, as did St. Thomas More to his daughter.

“Our job is live what we preach, and to preach...the good news of Jesus Christ to the young adults we serve. God loves us with the tenderness and zeal of a father. We need to reflect that same love to others. No one is immune to the power of being loved, least of all the young.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Homily - "Healing oppression"

Click here to listen to Sunday's homily.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

New Evangelization with Catholic Apps

This is cool...a former GW grad student sent this to me and others on a group email:

"New Evangelization with Catholic Apps"

In order to evangelize others we must be evangelized ourselves. We must have knowledge of true self, the reflection of God's image, through the light of the Church, in order to live a life of authenticity, a life that attracts those around us to start questioning God's Love. My point is, we only can do this through growing in our faith, and I stumbled upon a developer's website with a bunch of Catholic apps containing talks from Archbishop Fulton Sheen to Cardinal Newman, to general Catholic Teachings. I figured to share with all. May it come in handy.