WBEZ | Roman Catholic http://www.wbez.org/tags/roman-catholic Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago's Polish Catholics express renewed pride after canonizations http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-polish-catholics-express-renewed-pride-after-canonizations-110087 <p><p>Red and white flags are waving from cars across Chicago as Polish Roman Catholics continue to celebrate the canonization of the first Polish pontiff.</p><p>Pope Francis declared Popes John Paul II and John XXIII saints Sunday in Rome in a solemn ceremony attended by millions. Many more watched on TVs and Internet streams around the world. It was the first time two popes became saints on the same day.</p><p>It was an especially big deal for Polish Catholics in Chicago: Pope John Paul II was both the first Polish pontiff, and the first to visit Chicago.</p><p>Poles came out by the thousands Saturday and Sunday for special masses, vigils, concerts, museum exhibits and marches across greater Chicago.</p><p>At Five Holy Martyrs Church on the South Side, people started gathering more than four hours before the canonization ceremony, which began at 3 a.m. Chicago time. They prayed the rosary and listened to performances by several Polish Highlander groups, including excerpts from an opera about Pope John Paul II.</p><p>Karolina Nowobilska, 14, sang a solo in front of the packed church. She said she was calm until she finished.</p><p>&ldquo;When I got back into the pew, I went by my parents and I just started crying because I got so emotional that I got to sing,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a huge event that won&rsquo;t happen in my lifetime or maybe ... generations to come.&rdquo;</p><p>Nowobilska said she&rsquo;s already been praying to Pope John Paul II for help with things, including homework</p><p>Maggie Strzelec, 22, said she felt Pope John Paul II was the first pontiff to reach out to young people around the world, and it changed how people viewed Poles -- and how Poles viewed themselves.</p><p>&ldquo;There was no more embarrassment, or no more comments or stereotypical comments,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I think it made everybody so proud to be Polish.&rdquo;<br /><br />Hundreds of Polish Catholics marched up Milwaukee Avenue Sunday, from Holy Trinity Polish Church to St. Hyacinth Basilica, praying and singing. They arrived at their destination, waving Polish and Vatican flags, as church bells rang. Several people carried images of Pope John Paul II as they filed inside for mass.</p><p>Natalie Gebala of Mount Prospect attended an overnight vigil in Des Plaines, then marched in the pilgrimage. She got about three hours of sleep between events.</p><p>&ldquo;It was very tiring, and I have blisters on my feet. My muscles ache,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But it was so worth it because it was such a beautiful unifying experience, and I feel like it was unforgettable. I feel like he brought religion and goodness together. I feel like that&rsquo;s going to maybe deepen people&rsquo;s faith.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pope%20saints%201.JPG" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Roman Catholics march about five miles between two Polish churches to celebrate the canonization of two pontiffs, especially Pope John Paul II, the first Polish pope. (WBEZ/Lynette Kalsnes)" />Pope John Paul II visited Chicago in 1979 and held a huge mass that filled Grant Park. He also held a service at Five Holy Martyrs. An estimated 10,000 came, spilling out of the church parking lot and onto nearby rooftops. The church still has both the wooden chair he sat in and the altar, which they&rsquo;re restoring as a shrine.</p><p>Mark Wojciechowski from the Back of the Yards neighborhood was just a kid at the time, but he remembers that day well.</p><p>&ldquo;Waking up, your whole family being so proud, and no matter what, whether it was going to rain or shine, you were going to be there. It&rsquo;s just one of those things that&rsquo;s beautiful, you can always say you lived to be a saint.&rdquo;</p><p>Like many Polish Catholics gathered this weekend, Wojciechowski said he already knew in his heart that Pope John Paul II was a saint, and the ceremony just made it official.</p><p>Jozef Bafia, a Polish radio host who helped organized the vigil at Five Holy Martyrs, had a third row seat at that Holy Martyrs mass. He met the pope several times.</p><p>&ldquo;When he was here first time in 1979, Poland was behind the Iron Curtain, communism rules: You can&rsquo;t do this, you can&rsquo;t go there,&rdquo; Bafia said. &ldquo;Poland got free without bloodshed, without shots. I know Pope John Paul II, holy father, he was that big fire for that. Now he&rsquo;s a saint. Saint John Paul II. He&rsquo;s going to be with me for the rest of my life.</p><p>Not everyone was satisfied with the focus on John Paul II. Barb Smith, who attended mass Sunday night at Holy Name Cathedral, thought the occasion was exciting and historic. But she&nbsp; wanted Pope John XXIII, known as a progressive who worked to modernize the church, to get equal billing.</p><p>&ldquo;I just thought he was the best,&rdquo; Smith said, adding Pope John XXIII had an &ldquo;unblemished record.&rdquo; She said she felt Pope John Paul II&rsquo;s record was tarnished by his conservatism and the priest sex abuse scandal.</p><p>But Smith said she also thought Pope John Paul II had cleared those &ldquo;blemishes&rdquo; with the way he reached out to people, especially the young, and the way he so publicly suffered Parkinson&rsquo;s disease late in life.</p><p>Smith had visited Rome to see Pope John Paul II. She brought his photos with her Sunday, hoping to show her priest.</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a WBEZ producer/reporter covering religion and culture. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes">@LynetteKalsnes.</a></em></p></p> Mon, 28 Apr 2014 12:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-polish-catholics-express-renewed-pride-after-canonizations-110087 Fish fry dinners bring food, community to Catholics during Lent http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/fish-fry-dinners-bring-food-community-catholics-during-lent-110029 <p><p>Roman Catholics are not supposed to eat meat on Fridays during Lent. They view it as a small act of penance to honor Christ&rsquo;s death.</p><p>So churches across Chicago and the nation are carrying on a time-honored way to skip the meat, and gather as a community. It&rsquo;s the Friday fish fry, and it is growing in popularity here again.</p><p>One of the biggest and longest-running fish fries in Chicago -- and, volunteers claim, the only one here with a drive-through -- is at St. Ferdinand Church on the far Northwest Side.</p><p>Father Jason Torba stood in the church basement last Friday evening among a circle of volunteers. Many wore bunny ears and orange name tags shaped like fish.</p><p>&ldquo;We ask God for his blessing tonight and especially for the people, they will come and will serve,&rdquo; Torba said, adding it is even more important to serve during Lent. Then he led the group in an &ldquo;Our Father.&rdquo;</p><p>The volunteers were about to serve nearly 600 fish dinners ... in three hours. And the crowd started lining up 45 minutes early.</p><p>St. Ferdinand&rsquo;s fish fry has been going on for something like 25 years now. Organizers said other churches are coming to them now, asking how to start fish fries of their own.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/fish%20fry%201.JPG" title="Signs point the way to St. Ferdinand’s fish fry. (WBEZ/Lynette Kalsnes)" />Professor Michael Murphy, director of Catholic Studies at Loyola University Chicago, said church dinners like this were popular in the middle of the last century. Then, the tight parish structure made the local church a central part of life, resulting in women&rsquo;s and men&rsquo;s clubs, and many other events.</p><p>&ldquo;The parish was for so many years the place to be,&rdquo; he said, adding parishes served as a social outlet.</p><p>Murphy said fish fries merged theological teachings and practicality. If Catholics could not eat meat on Fridays, they might as well have fish and get together. He said that need to gather is central to the philosophy of the faith.</p><p>Murphy said these church dinners waned in popularity in greater Chicago after &ldquo;older parish things broke down&rdquo; following Vatican II, combined with the loosening of social structures in the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s.</p><p>But he sees them coming back in style over the past few decades. Murphy said some of his students want to start at fish fry at Loyola. He credited this partly to the &ldquo;Pope Francis effect,&rdquo; which has Catholics longing for community again.</p><p>&ldquo;This is not just to come to eat fish, but it is to build community,&rdquo;&nbsp; said Rich Wenzl, who has helped run the St. Ferdinand event with his wife Pat for 19 years. Their main goal is not to raise money. They hope to attract people from the parish and the larger neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Our world is very hungry for getting out of our houses and having a place to go that&rsquo;s correct, and that&rsquo;s safe, that feels good to be with each other and that we can share ourselves with one another,&rdquo; Rich Wenzl said.</p><p>Pat Wenzl, who is the lead organizer of the fish fry, said it is especially important to recruit young people to volunteer to keep them in the parish and in the faith.</p><p>&ldquo;If we groom them well and make them feel comfortable and make them feel like it&rsquo;s an important part of them, it only serves to help the church in years to come,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The couple created the process for running the event, and it is pretty much an assembly line. Friday, four men stood over designated fryers. Four women lined up next to each other to dish out fish, coleslaw, dinner rolls and condiments.</p><p>Teens stood right outside the kitchen, ready to run out orders to two packed dining halls. The operation is so big now, it takes more than 100 volunteers a night.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/fish%20fry%202.jpg.JPG" style="float: left; height: 358px; width: 275px;" title="Volunteers run the fish fry like a factory line to make and serve about 600 meals in three hours. (WBEZ/Lynette Kalsnes)" />Mary Clemente, who headed the line of women, did not slow down for even a minute ... not until her 4-year-old grandson popped by.</div><p>&ldquo;Give me a kiss, hey, love you,&rdquo; Clemente told her grandson.</p><p>&ldquo;Grandma, why is people wearing Easter bunny ears?&rdquo; he asked.</p><p>&ldquo;For Easter,&rdquo; she said with a laugh.</p><p>Then she went right back to work. Clemente has been volunteering so long, &ldquo;My son was 3, he&rsquo;s now 21, so that&rsquo;s how long, 18 years.&rdquo;</p><p>Another woman chimed in: &ldquo;Last year was her birthday, we made her kitchen queen.&rdquo;</p><p>Many of the volunteers have stories like this. Volunteering eight, 10, even 20 years is common. Even though it is hard work, Clemente said it is fun, and volunteers become like family.</p><p>That sense of community was visible among diners, too. Anne Marie Castiglioni came with her children and her mom. She does not attend St. Ferdinand&rsquo;s, but lives nearby. She said her son could not wait to see the Easter Bunny, who appears here the last fish fry of the season.</p><p>&ldquo;(He) had the biggest smile on his face to see this guy because he&rsquo;s known him since he&rsquo;s been like 3 years old, he&rsquo;s kind of grown up knowing this Easter Bunny here,&rdquo; Castiglioni said.</p><p>Her mom, Pat Zwick, said coming here has become a family tradition.</p><p>&ldquo;And the Easter Bunny brings you more into the Easter spirit,&rdquo; she said, as her granddaughter, who was sitting in her lap, excitedly pointed out that the Easter Bunny was right across the room.</p><p>On the other side of the crowded hall, Vincent Clemente -- Mary&rsquo;s husband - ate fish dinners with their grandson. Clemente&rsquo;s been a parishioner since he was 1.</p><p>&ldquo;Some people now, they don&rsquo;t go to church as often,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Some people that live in the neighborhood don&rsquo;t attend church, but this enhances the parish community because then they see how much of a community it is, and it may bring them to the church.&rdquo;</p><p>St. Ferdinand&rsquo;s last fish fry of the season was Friday night. They cannot hold one this weekend, since Catholics are required to fast on Good Friday, depending on their age.<br />But parishioners at St. Ferdinand plan to keep building community through food. They&rsquo;ll be back with the fish fry next year.</p><p>And up next? A pancake breakfast.</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a WBEZ producer/reporter covering religion and culture. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes" target="_blank">@LynetteKalsnes</a>.</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/fish-fry-dinners-bring-food-community-catholics-during-lent-110029 Chicago-area nuns weigh in on Pope's first anniversary http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/chicago-area-nuns-weigh-popes-first-anniversary-109852 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/pope nuns.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s been a tough couple of years for nuns in the U.S.<br /><br />In 2012 the Vatican essentially ordered three male bishops to oversee the group representing 80 percent of American nuns, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, saying the LCWR promoted &ldquo;radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.&rdquo;</p><p>So when a new pope came in exactly a year ago, many in this group wondered what it might mean for them and a range of women&rsquo;s issues from the Vatican investigation of nuns, to birth control, to women&rsquo;s ordination.</p><p>&ldquo;All I had was some hope, not a great deal for anything new or different,&rdquo; said Sister Suzanne Zuercher, a Benedictine at St. Scholastica Monastery on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side.</p><p>&ldquo;Now that a year has passed, I can&rsquo;t believe who it is that that conclave elected,&rdquo; Sister Suzanne said, adding that she was surprised and even amazed by how much Pope Francis has accomplished in a year. She pointed to how he had begun reforming the Curia (essentially the Vatican&rsquo;s top dogs) and cleaning house at the scandal-ridden Vatican bank.</p><p>Sister Suzanne said she appreciated how the Pope had changed the focus of the church from doctrinal to pastoral.<br /><br />&ldquo;The church has so often appeared, and been, grim. That is so different with this man,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s not grim at all, he is relaxed, he&rsquo;s joyous, and he says without being joyful, what do we have to offer people?&rdquo;<br /><br />Sister Suzanne and her Prioress, Sister Patricia Crowley, both said the Pope&rsquo;s popularity and symbolic acts like openly refusing to judge gay priests are creating a new image of the papacy and the church.</p><p>And while they acknowledge he&rsquo;s had a busy first year, they are waiting for him to take on women&rsquo;s issues in the church.</p><p>The Pope previously said he has a &ldquo;vivid hope&rdquo; women will play a &ldquo;more capillary and incisive&rdquo; role in the church. In an interview with Latin American nuns, he told them if they got a letter announcing an investigation similar to U.S. nuns, not to worry.</p><p>Sister Patricia is cautiously optimistic this could translate to action. Someday, she&nbsp; said, she even hopes to see women&rsquo;s ordination. But she admits the church moves slowly.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s gradual,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But basically, I&rsquo;d like to see that women are equal to men within the church because the first witness to the resurrection was a woman, and I think that&rsquo;s a pretty clear gospel message that indeed women are equal to men.&rdquo;</p><p>In the meantime, Pope Frances still hasn&rsquo;t lifted oversight from many U.S. nuns. That doesn&rsquo;t surprise Charles Reid, a Catholic blogger and professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.<br /><br />&ldquo;When he renewed that investigation, he was brand new on the job. He wasn&rsquo;t going to upset apple carts that quickly,&rdquo; Reid said. &ldquo;I do not think he will do what (Pope) Benedict was doing, and that is relentlessly pursue nuns.&rdquo;<br /><br />Reid explained that Pope Francis &ndash; who&rsquo;s a Jesuit &ndash; comes from a tradition that values spirited academic debate.<br /><br />&ldquo;Will he open doors to the ordination of women? No,&rdquo; Reid said. &ldquo;Will he open the doors to scholarship that could lead there in 20 years? Maybe, maybe.&rdquo;<br /><br />That day can&rsquo;t come soon enough for Sister Donna Quinn, a local activist nun. She wants women to have an equal voice and vote in the church.<br /><br />&ldquo;I really don&rsquo;t see any action,&rdquo; Sister Donna said. &ldquo;I see this nice wonderfulness of words and the media. Why doesn&rsquo;t the media pick up on the fact that the church is all men? All men are in power.&rdquo;<br /><br />But Sister Donna sees one hopeful sign in the Pope&rsquo;s more humble lifestyle, including his decision to ditch those fancy red shoes.<br /><br />&ldquo;If he has taken off those expensive shoes and the garb and walked with the people, he is taking that first wonderful step,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot more to follow, hopefully.&rdquo;<br /><br /><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a producer/reporter covering religion, culture and science for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes" target="_blank">@LynetteKalsnes</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 13 Mar 2014 17:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/chicago-area-nuns-weigh-popes-first-anniversary-109852 Chicago active in underground movement to ordain Catholic women priests http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-active-underground-movement-ordain-catholic-women-priests-106323 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMAG0113.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>An engaged couple nestled together on a loveseat in the living room of Mary Grace Crowley-Koch&rsquo;s suburban home. They sat so close that their arms and legs touched.</p><p>&ldquo;Did somebody special introduce you to each other?&rdquo; asked Crowley-Koch.<br />&ldquo;It was a completely random encounter that just worked,&rdquo; said the bride-to-be, Carrie Werner.<br />&ldquo;It worked,&rdquo; echoed her future husband, Jeff Halter.<br />&ldquo;Stepped out in faith and got a wonderful surprise,&rdquo; Mary Grace said.<br />&ldquo;I think we just pulled each other&rsquo;s Lotto ticket, is what happened,&rdquo; Jeff said.</p><p>Mary Grace and her husband, Ron, sat across from the couple, who were looking for someone to officiate at their upcoming wedding.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, what we&rsquo;re going to do tonight is we&rsquo;re going to give you a booklet of options because we believe this is about your gift of love,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And so there are options for prayers, there are options for the readings, the vows, blessings and everything.&rdquo;</p><p>The marriage ceremony will resemble a Catholic service in all aspects except one important detail: One of the priests presiding will be a woman &hellip; Crowley-Koch.<br />&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s very sad the Catholic Church has not recognized the ministry and the gifts of women because Jesus did,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The Roman Catholic Church has said the ordination of women is not up for discussion. The church argues women can&rsquo;t be priests because Jesus chose men as his first apostles, so only men can validly be priests. <a href="http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0001.html">Pope John Paul II</a> officially declared the church doesn&#39;t have the power to ordain women.&nbsp;</p><p>But a growing number of women are pushing the issue through an&nbsp;<a href="http://romancatholicwomenpriests.org/">underground movemen</a>t.&nbsp;Last year marked the tenth anniversary of the first underground ordination. At that time, a male Catholic bishop surreptitiously ordained seven women &ndash; including one American &ndash; on a boat in the Danube River.<br /><br />Afterward, two of the women priests were secretly ordained as bishops. Those female bishops, in turn, have ordained more women as bishops and priests. So far, there are 73 American women in the priesthood. Chicago has been active in the effort, with three already ordained and another in the pipeline.<br /><br />All the male bishops involved in the ordinations have remained anonymous under threat of excommunication. But the women have been quite vocal and public, openly ordaining other women even though they face automatic excommunication. They&rsquo;re also speaking out and organizing protests, like a recent demonstration at Holy Name Cathedral seeking a greater voice for women.<br /><br />The women celebrate Mass, baptize babies and perform other official acts reserved for male priests, like hearing confession. The marriages they preside at aren&rsquo;t officially recognized by the Catholic Church, but they&rsquo;re legal in Illinois &ndash; the women priests belong to the Federation of Christian Ministries, which is recognized by the state. Like any other couples, the people they marry still have to obtain a civil wedding license.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s just so strange that a person&rsquo;s gender would be considered as a &lsquo;yes&rsquo; or a &lsquo;no&rsquo; whether you could offer comfort and support,&rdquo; Crowley-Cook said. Women priests often serve those who feel marginalized by the official church, she said, including couples like Carrie Werner and Jeff Halter. They are practicing Catholics but can&rsquo;t wed in the church because Jeff&rsquo;s first marriage was never officially annulled.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want to just get a justice of the peace and feel disconnected,&rdquo; Jeff said.</p><p>That&rsquo;s why the couple sought out Crowley-Koch and her husband, who will perform the service together.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re still bringing our upbringings to the event, and it allows us to move forward,&rdquo; Jeff said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s also coming together with how society is today. It&rsquo;s still traditional and we still have those values, and you can&rsquo;t change what&rsquo;s inside, but it&rsquo;s bringing today into our situation.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Perfect, I agree,&rdquo; Carrie said.</p><p>Crowley-Koch felt the first stirrings of a call to the priesthood as far back as nursery school. She imitated a priest at Mass, and passed out white Necco candy wafers as a substitute for the communion host.</p><p>&ldquo;My mother had to tell me that I was not to continue to playing church at nursery school anymore because it was upsetting to some of the families,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So we just did it at home then. (Laughs.)&rdquo;</p><p>Her road to the priesthood was long and full of surprises. She spent 17 years as a Dominican sister, earning a master&rsquo;s degree in theology, and later served as a hospice chaplain.</p><p>&ldquo;Oftentimes I would hear confessions,&rdquo; Mary Grace said. &ldquo;They knew I was there for them. They felt comfortable telling me what was on their minds. It validated me because it was the people of God saying, &lsquo;Yes, we choose you.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Back in her living room with the engaged couple, Mary Grace shares the story of how she met her husband. At the time, she was still a Dominican sister and Ron was a Norbertine priest.</p><p>&ldquo;Down the line, one day Ron just said after working together for a couple of years, Ron said, &lsquo;I think I&rsquo;m falling in love with you.&rsquo; &ldquo;</p><p>Carrie Werner oohed in sympathy.</p><p>&ldquo;The hard thing for me was that I knew Ron was going to have to give up his priesthood,&rdquo; Mary Grace told the couple. &ldquo;And I wanted him to make really sure that was it, because if you love ministering to people and celebrating prayer and Eucharist for them, and to have that taken away from you just because you&rsquo;re getting married &hellip;&rdquo; Her voice trailed off.</p><p>She recalled the moment she and Ron had to face their parishioners with the news.</p><p>&ldquo;There was dead silence,&rdquo; Mary Grace said. &ldquo;We were planning to be ostracized but then all of sudden someone stood up and said, &lsquo;Well, Mary Grace and Ron, we can&rsquo;t thank you enough for all you&rsquo;ve done for us.&rsquo; And everyone applauded and that was the end of the meeting.&rdquo;</p><p>Crowley-Koch now offers Mass, often alongside her husband, once a month at their home. She said they&rsquo;re just following a tradition dating back to the earliest days of the church, when services in homes were the norm.</p><p>&ldquo;It was a very simple thing, and at a certain point in time, we&rsquo;ve added on and added on and made it more than Jesus ever had in his mind, I&rsquo;m sure. And by doing that and making rules as we went along that were never there from the very beginning, we&rsquo;ve eliminated half of the population.&rdquo;</p><p>Crowley-Koch said she doesn&rsquo;t think the clergy sex abuse scandal would have been covered up if women had been part of the hierarchy, and she believes that having women serve as priests is not just a matter of justice, but of creating balance as well.</p><p>&ldquo;Male and female he (God) created them,&rdquo; Mary Grace said. &ldquo;And when you&rsquo;re together as a couple, and when there are men and women working together on things, there is a balance there, and things come out much better than when one person or one gender makes all the decisions. So it&rsquo;s my hope we can find a balance in this world and in our church.&rdquo;</p><p>It would mark a momentous change if the new Pope Francis addresses Crowley-Koch&rsquo;s concerns. Many church observers say the Vatican will probably approve a married priesthood before it allows women to be ordained.</p><p><em>NOTE: Justin Mitchell and Jennifer Lacey contributed to this report. Greta Johnsen produced it.</em></p><p><br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 29 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-active-underground-movement-ordain-catholic-women-priests-106323 'Media nuns' assist Catholics in staying connected in a digital age http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/media-nuns-assist-catholics-staying-connected-digital-age-106328 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;"><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: left;"><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/star%20wars_1.jpg" style="height: 229px; width: 305px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: left;" title="Sister Helena comes face-to-face with Darth Vader on Hollywood Blvd. Sister Helena writes movie reviews for Catholic New World. (Courtesy of Sister Helena Burns)" />The sanctuary inside St. Mary Catholic Church in the village of Huntley echoed with the voices of more than 200 high school freshmen. They fidgeted as they waited for confirmation class to begin.</div></div></div></div></div></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">A poster for the movie <em>Warm Bodies</em> appeared on a large screen behind Sister Helena Burns. She asked the students if any of them have seen it, and some raise their hands.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;What happens when the two fall in love?&quot; she asked. &quot;The zombie guy and the human girl, what happens?&quot;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">And yes, she was talking about a zombie movie.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;He starts to come back to life, right? His little heart starts beating. What else happens? Does it just stay between the two of them? It&rsquo;s just their love, and it&rsquo;s all closed off and private?&quot; Sister Helena asked.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Hands began to pop up around the room, and one student shouted out the answer Sister Helena wanted.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;Yes, the love spreads,&quot; Sister Helena said to the students. &quot;Two thumbs up! Wasn&rsquo;t it great?&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The self-dubbed &#39;media nun&#39; is teaching a class about theology of the body, the idea that the human body is a revelation of God.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Using popular movies as a way to communicate to teens is just one example of Sister Helena&#39;s media savvy. She also tweets, blogs, <a href="http://www.hellburns.blogspot.com/2013/03/brand-new-my-video-review-of-warm-bodies.html#.UVOBRjevlI4">writes movie reviews</a><em> </em>and is making a documentary film about her order&#39;s founder with Spirit Juice Studios.<br /><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>To get a sense of Sister Helena&#39;s social media presence, check out this sampling from Storify:&nbsp; </em><a href="http://sfy.co/gH2R">Sister Helena Burns, &#39;Media Nun&#39;</a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">She&rsquo;s part of an international order of nuns called the Daughters of St. Paul. They claim they&rsquo;re the only order in the world whose sole mission is using media to &ldquo;communicate the gospel in a digital age.&rdquo; And at a time when studies show more and more people are feeling disconnected from institutional churches, the sisters may have found an unusual way to reach out.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The order was founded by Father James Alberione in 1915. He had a vision media would explode in the 20th century, and he should spread the gospel to as many people as possible using whatever technologies were available.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Back in those days, that was mostly newspapers and passing out pamphlets door-to-door. In 1932, the order opened the Pauline bookstores, which have locations across the country, including Chicago.</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/choir_0.jpg" style="height: 211px; width: 310px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;" title="The Daughters of St. Paul Choir singing at a Christmas concert in Boston. The order has its own state of the art sound studio for recording and producing albums. (Courtesy of Sister Helena Burns)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Over the years, the stores have adopted new forms of media and technology as they&#39;ve come along.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Today, they&#39;re known as Pauline Books and Media.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">They&#39;ve expanded their technologies to include ebooks, smartphone apps and software, among others. Music from the Daughters of St. Paul choir can be found on YouTube and in iTunes.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The Chicago order of the Daughters of St. Paul is located over its Pauline Books and Media store on North Michigan Avenue in the Loop.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Dressed in her navy blue veil and smock, Sister Helena greeted me warmly when I dropped by the store. It was early, so there weren&#39;t any customers browsing the religious books or trying to track down communion gifts yet. Sister Helena led me to the back of the store, where we took an elevator upstairs to the convent. The furnishings in the florescent-lit kitchen were spartan but comfortable.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Sister Helena entered the Daughters of St. Paul at 17, after finding an ad in <em>Catholic Digest.</em> The order&#39;s mission of spreading the gospel through media spoke to her immediately.</div><p>&ldquo;I felt, what better way could you bring God into somebody&rsquo;s heart and soul and mind, just directly through a book, a song, a magazine, a film,&rdquo; she said.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MEDIA LITERACY WORKSHOP 2.jpg" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: left;" title="Sister Helena giving a talk on media literacy. The Daughters of St. Paul do various forms of outreach to teach others about using media responsibly. (Courtesy of Sister Helena Burns)" /></div><p>Sister Helena didn&rsquo;t always know she was going to be a nun. Growing up, she dreamt of working with animals, especially birds. But she also loved reading and writing short stories</p><p>&ldquo;I could see the influence for the good and the ill that media had on me, on my friends, and on society,&quot; she said. &quot;I thought, &lsquo;Wow, I would love to just get in there and affirm the good, and try to help people also reflect on their everyday media experiences.&#39;&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">The Daughters of St. Paul don&rsquo;t just evangelize, they teach people to use media responsibly without allowing it to take over their lives. In addition to speaking to large groups like the confirmation class at St. Mary&#39;s, they also offer private sessions with families and individuals, or anyone who needs help balancing the media and technology.</div><p>Sister Helena told me about a woman whose granddaughter used to come over every day after school.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;&#39;Because,&#39; she said,&nbsp; &#39;Grandma, you look at me. I go to my house, my little brother&rsquo;s playing with his games, my mother&rsquo;s talking on her phone, my dad&rsquo;s at the computer.&#39; She said, &lsquo;I come into your house, Grandma, and you&rsquo;re at the computer, you shut it off.&#39;&rdquo;</div><p>In addition to working with teens and families, the order also uses media as a tool to recruit new sisters. A 2012 study from Georgetown University shows the number of nuns in the United States has dropped by two-thirds since the 1960s.</p><p>The Daughters of St. Paul hope to reverse that trend by reaching out to young women in their own language, social media.</p><p>That appealed to 30-year-old Danielle Lussier, who&rsquo;s entering the order this September. Like Sister Helena, Danielle never pictured herself as a nun.</p><p>&ldquo;They were other worldly, they were outside of my own worldview, totally, like, out of touch maybe? But also mysterious,&quot; she said.</p><p>Danielle studied photography and film in college, but she began to wonder if she was using her talents for the highest possible purpose. While on a religious retreat, she found her purpose in the Daughters of St. Paul.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/italy_0.jpg" style="float: right; height: 212px; width: 305px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px;" title="Sister Helena filming a scene on location in Italy. She's working with Spirit Juice Studios of Chicago on a film about Father James Alberione, who founded the Daughters of St. Paul. (Courtesy of Sister Helena Burns)" /></div><p>&ldquo;This is a means of reaching people where they are,&quot; Danielle said. &quot;This is the language of our culture.&rdquo;</p><p>Back at St. Mary Catholic Church, the nuns seem to be getting through. Fifteen-year-old Bailey said she&#39;s heard some &quot;boring&quot; speakers in confirmation class, but hearing a nun speak about a zombie movie caught her attention.</p><p>&ldquo;She&rsquo;s not just [living] this strict life, she can get out there and teach kids [in the way] we learn,&quot; Bailey said. &quot;It&rsquo;s kind of more our generation,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Now, Bailey said, she expects to pay more attention to Catholic issues when they pop up on Facebook.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 28 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/media-nuns-assist-catholics-staying-connected-digital-age-106328 Parents of gay Catholics struggle with church teachings http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/parents-gay-catholics-struggle-church-teachings-106277 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/catholic2.jpg" title="Barbara Marian and Jerry Powers (WBEZ/Judy Valente)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F84914908" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>One of the most complex issues facing Pope Francis is how the church can minister to gay Catholics and their families. Many gay, lesbian and transgendered people have left the Roman Catholic Church because of its teaching that homosexual behavior is quote &ldquo;intrinsically disordered.&rdquo; Now, a growing number of parents are defecting too. And they&rsquo;re often people who have often been pillars of their parish community.</p><p><em>COUNTERPOINT: How traditional Catholics approach homosexual members of the church</em><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F85191177" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">Toni and Tom Weaver&rsquo;s home in McHenry County is filled with family portraits of their three sons, whom they raised steeped in the religious traditions of the Catholic church.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I was about as active in the church as a layperson could be,&rdquo; Toni Weaver said, &ldquo;I was an organist, a choir leader, daily Mass. I lived for the church. The church was so much a part of my life that I couldn&rsquo;t imagine my life without it.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Then came the college graduation of Weaver&rsquo;s youngest son, Michael. He&rsquo;s a former Peace Corps volunteer, a pianist, avid skier and tennis player.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/catholic1.jpg" style="float: left; width: 300px; height: 399px; " title=" Father Bill Tkachuk of St. Nicholas Parish in Evanston (WBEZ/Judy Valente)" />&ldquo;Our son waited until the day after he graduated from college when, in absolutely classic fashion, he leaned forward in the car and said, &lsquo;Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you. I&rsquo;m gay.&rsquo; We couldn&rsquo;t wait to get home and get out of the car so both of us could just embrace him and assure that him everything was okay,&rdquo; Toni Weaver said.</p><p dir="ltr">She said that open reaction wouldn&rsquo;t have always been the case</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If he had come out to me 10 years earlier, I&rsquo;m not sure what my response would have been,&rdquo; Toni said. &ldquo;I was definitely very traditionally Catholic and had even been moving in Evangelical circles. I was the first one to preach that homosexuality was wrong.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But Weaver said she came to a fuller understanding of homosexuality when she began studying for a master&rsquo;s degree in theology:</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Here were people who were gay who were being treated atrociously, and they were being denied their basic rights, and they were the butt of jokes,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It finally dawned on me that people don&rsquo;t choose their sexual orientation. That for me was an absolute turning point, and I attribute it to the work of the spirit.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">She thought she could change others&rsquo; attitudes. But then she and her husband heard a letter read from the pulpit, criticizing same-sex marriage and civil unions.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think that was the first time I felt slapped in the face by my church,&rdquo; Toni said. &ldquo;And when I heard this coming from the pulpit, I didn&rsquo;t know what to do. (Cries.) I stood up, we were sitting in the middle of the pew. I stood up, and I turned toward the door and walked out. I grieved the church for 18 months. I grieved it. Something had died in my life.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Weaver and her husband, Tom, haven&rsquo;t attended any church since. She said she has moved on, but her husband is still bitter.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Jesus did not preach hate,&rdquo; Tom Weaver said. &ldquo;He did not teach his followers to ignore or dismiss any other individual. Jesus is known for going out for the people who were the least loved in society. That&rsquo;s not the church we have today.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">According to the non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute, 56 percent of Catholics, like the Weavers, reject their church&rsquo;s teaching that homosexual activity is a sin. And 74 percent favor allowing gays to either marry or form some sort of civil union. That&rsquo;s up considerably from just a decade ago.</div><p dir="ltr">Father Bill Tkachuk of St. Nicholas Parish in Evanston said the church needs to be more sensitive to families in the way it talks about gays and gay issues: &ldquo;Speaking in the language that people can hear with their hearts and accept with their hearts, as opposed to a more academic language that can be received as very hurtful, even if it&rsquo;s not intended that way.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">His parishioners recently wrote to Cardinal Francis George of Chicago. They objected to a letter in which the cardinal called civil unions a &ldquo;legal fiction,&rdquo; and gay marriage &ldquo;contrary to the common sense of the human race.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We do not understand the disconnection between us and our leaders,&rdquo; said Barbara Marian, who has a daughter, a nephew and three nieces who are lesbian or gay.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We live with love for these neighbors, colleagues and children and we see them as whole persons,&rdquo; Marian said. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t focus on the small part of their lives that involves their genitalia.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Marian and her husband say they received &ldquo;zero support&rdquo; for their lesbian daughter from their local parish. Now they travel an hour from their home in Harvard, Ill., to Father Bill&rsquo;s parish in Evanston. They are determined to remain within the church.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;I am Catholic through and through and through,&rdquo; Marian said. &ldquo;There is no separating me from the church. Although it brings me to my knees with anger and tears when the bishops make a statement and strafe my community, I bleed.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7161_DSCN1118-scr_0.JPG" style="float: right; height: 300px; width: 400px; margin: 5px;" title="Norm and Mary Jo Bowers (WBEZ/Judy Valente)" /></p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve told my pastor, I said, &lsquo;To me my whole religion is this parish. It stays within the confines of this parish,&#39; &quot; Norm Bowers said. &quot;I have nothing anymore to do with the hierarchy and what comes out of Rome.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Norm and Mary Jo Bowers not only have a lesbian daughter who&rsquo;s been married for 14 years, their daughter now has two children &ndash; both baptized in the Catholic church. The church opposes artificial insemination and adoption by gay couples &ndash; which the new Pope Francis once likened to an idea from Satan.</div><p dir="ltr">Norm Bowers said he was offended by that and by a column in a Catholic paper. A priest wrote that children raised by gay couples might grow up &ldquo;confused.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I said to myself, which Catholic who has a brain isn&rsquo;t confused in the Catholic church today?&rdquo; Norm Bowers said. He still attends Mass. But his wife has given up on the church.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re still back in the 4th century with St Augustine,&rdquo; Mary Jo Bowers said. &ldquo;They haven&rsquo;t moved forward intellectually, or integrated new information into their thinking.&rdquo;</p><p>Like the Bowers, many parents of gays think the new Pope might at least listen to their concerns. They are less hopeful that he will actually change the church&rsquo;s current teaching.</p><p><em>WBEZ&#39;s&nbsp;</em><em>Greta Johnsen&nbsp;</em><em>helped produce this report. &nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 27 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/parents-gay-catholics-struggle-church-teachings-106277 U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops elects a new leader http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/us-conference-catholic-bishops-elects-new-leader <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/bishop election resize.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This week, nearly 300 Roman Catholic bishops gather in Baltimore for the annual <a href="http://www.nccbuscc.org/" target="_blank">U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops</a>. But they already finished their most important business &ndash; choosing a new leader for the next three years. The post goes to a New York archbishop who defeated an Arizona bishop who spent most of his life in Chicago.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Some analysts are chalking up Bishop Gerald Kicanas&rsquo; loss to a wave of criticism just before the election, most of it concerning his links to an imprisoned Chicago child molester.</p><p>WBEZ&rsquo;s Chip Mitchell reported on this story last month and he gave Eight Forty-Eight the latest update.</p><p><em>Music Button:&nbsp; John Paul, &quot;French Suite 4 in E Flat, Gigue&quot;, from the CD The Complete Clavier Suites of JS Bach Vol. 2 (Lyrichord)</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 17 Nov 2010 14:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/us-conference-catholic-bishops-elects-new-leader