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By Mary Ann Hughes (Interim Message Editor)
Bishop Charles C. Thompson of the Catholic Diocese of Evansville has released the following statement concerning the recent shooting incident at Temple Adath B’nai Israel in Evansville:
“Evansville has, for generations, shined as a beacon of warm welcome and acceptance to people of many different faith traditions. We experience that legacy every spring when the city’s annual observance of the National Day of Prayer draws Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and others to the Four Freedoms Monument for community prayer.
“We pray together for our country that day, and we work together every day to assure that our city, our state and our country continue to welcome and respect all, regardless of their religious beliefs or their nationalities. We aspire to be one nation with a beautifully diverse faith community that makes America strong and vibrant.
“It is in that spirit that I stand with leaders of other faith communities in the Tri-State in support of our Jewish brothers and sisters, who recently endured a senseless act at Temple Adath B’nai Evansville.
“I speak for the Catholic community across Southwest Indiana in condemning this hate crime and all acts like it – and in offering prayers for everyone involved. At his general audience on Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis reminded the world that the path we are called to walk is challenging ‘because love is challenging, but it’s a path full of hope.’ May we all stand up in love and hope against every act of violence and hate, seeking to build up the human family.
“Our national anthem closes by calling America ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave.’ Let us continue to work together bravely to assure that our hometowns and our nation be known always and everywhere for commitments to freedom of religion – and to freedom from prejudice and violence in the name of intimidation and persecution.”
(For news from the Diocese of Evansville, log on to the website of The Message at www.themessageonline.org)
(For news from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, log on to the website of Today’s Catholic at www.todayscatholicnews.org)
By Anthony D. Alonzo
MERRILLVILLE – God likes the world with you in it, and he wants to be present at the center of every person’s journey, Precious Blood Father Kevin Scalf told an audience at a Lenten gathering.
At a part of a four-week lenten journey mission sponsored by the Merrillville cluster of Catholic parishes hosted March 7 at Our Lady of Consolation, Father Scalf went further, saying Jesus Christ is present among, before and between us, working as an emollient, soothing over difficult interpersonal interactions that could be disastrous without him.
Father Scalf, special assistant to the president for mission and ministry at Calumet College of St. Joseph in Hammond, shared the testimony of a student, who during his duties as a police officer, invites the Lord to be a part of potentially dangerous situations.
“This officer told me, ‘I’m not the most religious person, but I incorporate something of the Lord when I go out on a call – I ask him to come stand between us,’” Father Scalf said.
Father Scalf explained with this approach we acknowledge that “in the middle of all these things teeming about, there is something more.”
As with the Chicago police officer, Father Scalf said the Lord’s efficacy is contingent on the person welcoming the power of God through the Holy Spirit into their lives.
During his “No Idling in our Idoling” presentation, Father Scalf warned about idols – those things that “can block our access to God.”
Greek and Latin etymologies of “idol” describe the concept of a “phantom,” or “resemblance.” Father Scalf continued to explain the historical context of idols, citing perhaps the most famous idol of all, the golden calf described in Exodus 32.
“What is it in our lives that we really love, serve, or worship the most?” Father Scalf asked. “Those things we serve the most, if we are really honest about it, are worldly things.”
In his discussions with college students, the Precious Blood priest said the concept of a tangible idol, or false god, is an idea that is “quickly pushed aside” by many young adults. “We don’t do that anymore,” he said they tell him.
However, listing several categories of distractions and vices, Father Scalf said there are plenty of modern-day golden calves: career climbing, power pursuits, social media mania, lack of charity, promiscuity, substance abuse, and others.
To counter the negative influence of these would-be idols, Father Scalf said the cardinal rule is to place God in the center of our lives. Love for God and neighbor was prescribed by Jesus in response to questions raised by a member of the Pharisees. “He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mt. 22:37-40)
Photo caption: Precious Blood Father Kevin Scalf gives his presentation on March 7 at Our Lady of Consolation as part of the four-week Lenten journey series sponsored by the Merrillville cluster of Catholic parishes. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)
(For news from the Diocese of Gary, log on to the website of the Northwest Indiana Catholic at www.nwicatholic.com)
By Caroline B. Mooney
LAFAYETTE — Sixteen first-graders in teacher Perry Langley’s class at St. Mary Cathedral School spent the month of February performing random acts of kindness.
“I wanted to give students something they could do in the community that taught kindness as a virtue,” Langley said. “I gave them a list of good ideas and it was cool to see the things they came up with on their own.”
She incorporated Valentine’s Day by giving each of her students 10 red hearts on which they were to record their good deeds. Each child then reported on their favorite act with five sentences and a photograph.
“We started in the beginning of February and went to the end of the month, so they had plenty of time,” she said.
Now, the bulletin board outside Langley’s room is overflowing with hearts. The excess hearts and all reports are posted throughout the school hallway, a concrete display of love in action.
Acts included: “I made my sisters’ beds,” “I went to church and breakfast with Papa. I was a good girl both places,” “I fixed all the books on my sister’s baby bookshelf,” “I helped my grandpa carry firewood,” and “I held the door open for a friend at school.”
“It was our very first graded project that we did at home, so we were kind of excited about it,” said student Bella Hancock.
Her report read: “I wrote a letter to Miss Langley because I like what she does for me. I felt joyful doing this. I chose this act of kindness because I like to write letters to people. It makes people smile. I also like it because she helped me out a lot and she’s super nice. She always is there when I need her. I like being in her class, that’s why I love her so much.”
“I also cleaned out our van, dusted the whole house, helped grandmother carry groceries, cleaned my room, and held the door open for strangers,” Hancock said. “It makes people feel good when you do things for them and I become closer to God.”
Classmate Dylan Weaver said he had heard of random acts before.
He wrote about taking homemade cookies to his uncle, and said it “made me feel happy that he liked them. He told me that everyone liked the cookies and that my note meant a lot to him.”
Langley said parents incorporated the project into their home lives, talking about the kind things they did each day and helping them act on their ideas.
“I got a lot of really good feedback from parents,” she said. “It’s been really helpful for us. I think our classroom has changed a little bit because it’s given the students more practical ways to be kind to people and they know what that looks like.
“I think as teachers sometimes we forget that we need to teach them those little skills, like practical ways to be kind and practical things you can do that are sacrifices or examples of different virtues,” Langley said. “They did a really nice job. I think they started recognizing actions in their lives that are kind.”
Photo caption: Red hearts record acts of kindness done by first-graders in teacher Perry Langley’s class at St. Mary Cathedral School in Lafayette. (Photo by Caroline B. Mooney)
(For news from the Diocese of Lafayette, log on to the website of The Catholic Moment at www.thecatholicmoment.org)