Catholic Community Commentary

Posts tagged “youth

Is There a Thomas in the House?

     Hi, all you bloggers.    I have to say that the staff here is crazy and I love it.  New ideas are entertained and sometimes they entertain us.  One of the latest ideas was to promote our CYO basketball program and get as many people at the game as possible.  At a tournament game hosted at our local gym, we would have prizes for anyone who could make a half court shot.  To advertise, a short video of me making a half court shot would be featured.  By the hand of God, I made the shot on the second attempt and the video project was completed.  Now comes the interesting part of the project…  
     I went to the grade school to show off the video.  The kids were congratulatory of my basketball skills and full of wide-eyed hopes that they could win a prize at the game.  There were no doubts that such a shot could come from my hand.    Next, I next went to the high school building.  When they viewed the video, they thought it was a hoax.  Somehow the youtube promo was spliced and not real.  I had a difficult time convincing the students that it was real.  I’m not really sure they ever believed me.   And then it was time to show the video to the adults.  They, too, were skeptical of my half court shot, although they were not as hard to convince as the teenagers.
     This project has made me wonder about our society.  Have we been so tricked by so many that belief comes hard?  Are we in a society of Thomases?  Do people believe me when I preach?  Can people tell the difference between truth and fiction? 
      Who and what we believe comes into question.  What is truth for you?  That is a question that we will encounter during the Lenten season.    Have a great day.  I mean it.   That’s the truth.

Fr. Mark


Evil Happens…We Do Nothing?

Abortion is an issue that I don’t relish focusing attention on or talking about, especially at Christmas time. The death of unborn children, as we consider Christ in Mary’s womb in anticipation of His birth, seems so incredibly wrong. And yet, with the opening of the new abortion clinic in Lima, it seems essential that something be said.

There are several points that are usually raised when someone mentions abortion as an option: it should be a woman’s right to choose; we’re supporting women; it’s only a blob of tissue, nothing has changed in the fight against abortion after so many years. Let’s take a few minutes to address these issues.

For any consideration of abortion, we need to understand what the action really is. Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy by removing the child growing within its mother. It isn’t a blob of tissue, but a human being. All of the genetic information is present for the child’s physical development. Equally present is a soul, that gift from God that makes us unique from simply being animals.

The child in the womb has been described as a blob, something less than human, so that an abortion might seem okay. Yet the truth is that the child looks very human after only a few weeks of growth, but has been fully human since conception when body and soul come together.

I think some of these false ideas have surfaced when people witnessed the destruction of a human being after the suction machine has torn it apart, much like we don’t recognize the animal in hamburger. In addition, it can only be without faith that we see the developing child as a blob since we are denying the soul’s presence.

With the recognition that this is truly a child, a human being, let’s look particularly at ‘a woman’s right to choose.’ What is she choosing? She is choosing to end the life of her child. Again it appears obvious that we do not see the child as a child for no one is in favor of killing another. We do not have the option to choose to kill other people. We couldn’t kill the child in a mother’s womb unless, in our minds, we make that child less than human.

The other piece that I grapple with is why anyone sees abortion as something helpful to women. The procedures are anything but affirming. For example, a woman who is less than 9 ½ weeks pregnant and has a medical abortion (which is the method at the Lima facility) will be given an oral medication (RU-486) in the office and will be sent home with medication that needs to be vaginally inserted 6-72 hours after that oral medication. Then alone in her home, she will begin cramping and bleeding until the child is discharged. She is left alone to flush her child away.

How is any of that positive for a woman? Did she really know what her choice was? Was she forced to endure this by someone else, economics, or shame? If we truly want to support women, we need to help them with the natural, yet challenging situation of their pregnancy. We need to be there offering support, education, supplies and advice, much like Heartbeat and other Pregnancy Centers.

Adding to the trauma of this crime against women and children is how it tears at families. I have heard the weeping grandmother sharing the story of her lost first-grandchild and the sorrow of a young father who was given no option at all about the life of his child. And then there is the regret of the post-abortive woman, whose sadness seems unquenchable.

Things have changed over the years in support of life. There have been laws put in place that would prosecute anyone who forces a woman to have an abortion. The Hyde Amendment prevents federal money from being spent on abortion. The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act prevents the abortion of a child shortly before its birth.

Why hasn’t more been done? Perhaps the answer is you. What have you done to fight against this evil? Has it been a focus of daily prayer? Did you join members of St. Michael’s Parish in being a prayerful witness outside of the Center for Choice abortion clinic during 40 Days for Life? Do you write letters to the editor about this issue? Have you called or e-mailed your Congressman?

As Edmund Burke once said, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” It happened during Christ’s life and it is happening during ours.

Jan Kahle, Pro-Life Coordinator for the Diocese of Toledo


Oh, Eliza, Little Liza Jane

(Written on Wednesday, Nov. 17)

Hi to all you bloggers,

     I’m all excited about tonight’s activities for our teenagers:  square dancing.  I love to square dance.  I grew up with it as part of family weddings and physical education in school.  I also square-danced when I used to have a date or two (boy, has that been a while).  I still call them for different functions, and now we have this activity as part of our religious education program.

    You may ask, “How is square dancing related to religious education?”  First of all, my cousin, Fr. Mel Lochtefeld, taught square dancing years ago.  Much of our faith comes from tradition.  I’m just continuing the tradition.

     Next, our students are studying the Theology of the Body.  So much is made of what is inappropriate.  We thought of a way to teach what is appropriate.  Just because you dance with someone of the opposite sex doesn’t mean that you are dating them. 

    My nieces and nephews have been square dancing with each other at weddings for years.  They’ve been dancing since they’ve been in grade school. To be able to hold hands with boundaries and a purpose is a good thing.  So much of what we teach in regards to the physical person is taught in response to fear or suspicion.  Dancing gives an outlet for good fun and social appropriateness.  

     The Church says, in John Paul’s writings on The Theology of the Body, that the physical aspect of man is good.  I believe that our square dancing lessons will bring out the good in our students and respect for the physical person. 

     If you’ve ever seen our students in sports, you know how physical they can be.  Tonight, they can see how they can work together to dance with the stars.  We need a name for our class.  “Dancing with the Stars” is taken.  Maybe someone can come up with a good name.    

     I’m off to practice my Li’l Liza Jane.            

     Fr. Mark


Everyone is a Missionary

October 21st is the feast day for St. Gaspar, the founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.  When I was considering what type of priest I wanted to be, I reflected on going to a foreign land to spread the knowledge of God.  There are different kinds of priests.  Some minister to a local area (diocesan priests) or others have teaching as their focus (Jesuits), but I chose to be a missionaryA missionary doesn’t always mean going to a different country or culture but an attitude of active preaching, living and learning of our faith.  Missionary is just as much learning God from the people you are living with as much as bringing your idea of God to others.
This past week I got to observe God Happenings right in front of me.  During the tornado watch, the kindergarten through 5th grades came to the basement of St. Michael’s Church.  It was a time of confusion and fear.  For some, this was the first time they felt this fear without their parents being at their side.  We gathered together to put ourselves in the Lord’s care as we prayed.  It helped to pray together and be God’s arms for each other as siblings calmed each other or classmates assured each other with a hug.  The kids were being missionary to me as I witnessed care, concern and love overcome fear and doubt.  I was pretty proud of our young ones.
At the soccer games this week, the missionary spirit came forwardWe prayed for a victory and placed the players in the Lord’s hands.  Even though the victory was not won on the field of soccer, I saw students and parents hanging around to console, comfort and encourage the team and coaches.  This strong sense of community is nice to behold.  When this spirit reaches out from a local community to a world community or even a neighboring community, that is being missionary.
Our faith is played out on many fields and locations not necessarily in a church building.  This week I was reminded what it means to be a missionary.  Thanks to everyone who showed the face of God to me this week.
Have a blessed week.  Fr. Mark

How Parents Can Take a Stand

This is a guest post by Connie Cleemput the Director of Religious Education.

Where do you stand on abortion, on underage drinking, on the death penalty?  Where do you stand on taking time to pray as a family, on having a meal together or attending church on Sundays as a family?  Where we stand, so stands our children.  They mirror what we say and do as their parents, as their role models, as they people they look up to.

When practicing songs and prayers for Mass (after three weeks of practice) I mentioned to the First and Second graders to ask their moms and dads to take them to Mass on Sunday mornings or Saturday afternoon.  I said “Your parents will say yes, just ask them.”  I can not tell you how disheartened I was when a second grader told me that he had asked his parents and they said no.

Where do we stand?  How can you, as parents, help your children be the best Catholic they can be?  How can you help them form their consciences so they can make good, moral decisions?

As parents we have a moral obligation and a Catholic obligation to help form and support our children into whom God calls them to be.  Yes, God calls all of us to take a stand.  God has placed these children in our care, knowing and trusting we will do our best to raise them in our Catholic faith.

Take a stand.  Take them to church, pray as a family around the dinner table at least once a day, tell them about God.  Look in the mirror and you will see a reflection of your child.  Listen to your voice and you will hear your child.  Do you like what you see and hear?  Take a stand.


Parents, It’s Time for You to Talk to Your Kids about the Three Letter Word

Hi to everyone.  Last week was supposed to be Catechetical Sunday in the parish, but I got sidelined.  So it has been pushed back to this Sunday.  So I’d like to put in a plug for teaching. 
Many people admit that it is a difficult time for children.  They get so many messages out there.  So much of our children’s time is spent with technology; television, phones and computers.  Who or what is teaching our kids the important lessons of life.  Believe it or not, children still learn from their parents.  Parents are still the largest influence on their children.  So on this catechetical weekend, here’s a salute to parents.
So have you had that talk with your kids yet?  Fathers, have you had that talk with your sons?  Moms, have you explained where life comes from to your daughters?  Do they know about the birds and the bees and heard it from a reputable source?  There is a lot of information out there and not all accurate.  It is a subject that is difficult to talk about.  How do you get started?  Will it be embarassing to the kids?  You would think that a discussion about a three letter word wouldn’t be so difficult.  I still remember when my dad talked to me. 
Yes, I remember when my dad talked to me about “God”.  What three letter word were you thinking of?   
Yes, it was my intention to trick you.  In our society, we hear so much language about so many things including other three letter words.  God language used to be part of our vocabulary and social gatherings and home life. 
With children being so busy with their own social lives, where do they get to learn the real life lessons: that God is the source of all life?  There is no substitute to the home.  Religion classes and going to church are good complements to what is taught in the home.  But speaking in religious language seems to be difficult to do.  I was blessed to have parents that spoke about their faith and backed it up by going to church and practiced it in the home. 
On this Catechetical Sunday, I challenge all families to claim their faith, to claim God.  God has claimed us.  Shouldn’t we do the same and do it for our families.  If you aren’t praying in your homes at table or at bed time with your kids, make a start.  God is everywhere.  Shouldn’t He be in your home?
Sorry to have tricked you but wasn’t that easier to talk about than the other three letter word?  Talk God this week.    


What’s the BEST part of Putnam County?

I talked to my travel agent this week to check on a return trip to New Zealand.  It looks like there’s a spot for me in mid-January.  I can’t wait to return.  I’ll be away from Putnam County for ten days.  Ten days goes so fast so I want to do as many fun things as possible.  The country has so much to offer like mountains, beaches, hiking and biking, wineries, cafes and cows.  New Zealand is known for its natural beauty – I may not know where to start. 

But I do know where to start, and that is with all the people I miss.  As a parish priest of small parishes, you get to know people pretty quickly.  I’m not going back just to see one of the world’s most beautiful countries.   The warmth of the people is calling.

This weekend I’ll  canoe with a group of high school seniors from our church.  I had to check out the conditions of the river on Tuesday to make sure everything was good for the kids later in the week.  On the trip down the mighty Blanchard River, we saw lots of birds (including a bald eagle), a raccoon and squirrels, fish jumping into our boat and just the calm of leaves falling from the trees above the river.  We hope to offer the kids a day of beauty and calm away from texting and cell phones. 

Putnam County has a lot to offer.  Some refer to it as God’s Country.

Last weekend, people from all over came back to Kalida for Pioneer Days.  It was a nice weekend, with tons of people coming back to Putnam County for all the best it has to offer.  The parade route was filled, as was the downtown square.  As I drove our church float, it was a nice feeling to see all the people joined on a glorious day. 

People from New Zealand ask me what Putnam County offers.  I could tell them about the eagle on The Blanchard, the rich heritage of the people and its beautiful churches and the flat, productive farmland, but I would rather tell them about what happens at Pioneer Days:  people gathering for friendship.

During Pioneer Days, the offer of a hand of friendship was offered hundreds, maybe thousands of times.  Many times the offer came with the offer of a beer – it seems the German thing to do.  Ever since I was shot when I was eight years old, my stomach can’t do certain foods and beverages.  I can’t do apple juice, Hawaiian punch, Sunkist Orange or beer .  It is easy for me to say no to this offer of liquid hospitality and to be able to tell the difference between the offer of friendship and the offer of a beer. 

It is not just a weak stomach that makes me say no to the beer, either.   I do worry that sometimes our young people can’t distinguish between the offerings.  Somehow beer, hospitality and friendship fused together in this community.  With my stomach injury I said no to the one offer and yes to the other offer quite easily.  But our young people and others who want to avoid alcohol may find it difficult becuase they don’t want to reject the offer of hospitality and friendship. 

In New Zealand the offer of hospitality also included a drink: usually a hot beverage of tea, coffee, milo (hot chocolate) or hot water.  In this German community the welcome comes out, “Want a beer?” Translation:  “It’s good to see you, welcome to our home.”

This area offers so much.  Just like New Zealand, the greatest gift is the gift of its people.  The kindness, hospitality and friendship keep people coming back.  When people from New Zealand ask what the area offers, I tell them to come and meet the people.  They offer the best the world can give.


Living the Sweet Life

It’s Pioneer Days in Kalida and it will be a busy weekend. I’ll be working with the Bingo booth, Duck Races, flipping social burgers, calling square dances and most of all enjoying the food and atmosphere.

When I was young, church festivals and fairs were tough to attend because I did not have money for a lot of extras.  That meant I had to be careful of how I spent my quarters, dimes and pennies(yes, I am old).  I thought to myself of how neat it would be to run away with the circus, so to speak.

I’d be surrounded by cotton candy, taffy and parades all the time.  I think I was secretly called to be a carnival person rather than a priest.  As a young person I was looking for the sweet life, and that meant cotton candy.  My mom always said that too much cotton candy would make my teeth fall out.

Either my mom was telling me stories, I didn’t eat enough to make my teeth fall out or there was a lesson my mom was trying to teach me.  I’m banking on the latter.  Life isn’t always a sweet carnival. There is real food that must be eaten sometime.  Sweets are fine for short intervals but will I really grow without substance?

I believe this lesson goes not only for the body but for the whole person.  To be a whole person there will be things on our plate that might not be the sweetest but may bethe best for us. Sacrifice and hard work are hard to swallow but may help us grow more than selfishness and laziness.

Mom always said our teeth would fall out if we had too many sweets.  Mom made sure our teeth didn’t fall out due to proper eating habits at the table and in life.  I am better for it and smile with my own teeth.

I believe we want a sweet life for our kids and for ourselves.  Jesus came that we might have life and have it to the full.  When I see the kids here I smile and want the best for them.

Today, I don’t think they have to run away to the circus to be filled with sweet things.  The circus is here. As a nation and a community we have been blessed with many sweet things.  The challenge for parents and our community is to help the kids keep their teeth and to smile because they have a full life.

And yes, I will have some cotton candy this weekend.  I’ll also work the booths to keep our community strong.

In the spirit of Pioneer, what are you most looking forward to in this weekend’s festivities?


2 Women in Toledo Choose Life

Jan Kahle received the following email last week from Ann Barrick, of the Pro Life Connection, about two girls who chose life after contemplating abortion (when approached at the Center for Choice, in Toledo, OH).  Jan wanted as many people as possible to hear this story:

PRAISE GOD!!  Two women chose life for their babies this evening!!  I thought you might like to hear the stories…  Enjoy!

A young couple passed by a sidewalk counselor as they went into the abortion center.  The man took the information that the counselor offered but didn’t stop to talk, just looked at her strangely.  Five minutes later, he walked out of the center right to her and stood there.  She asked him if he wanted to talk.  He said, “I just can’t stay inside that place!  It’s so depressing!”  The counselor talked to the man for awhile, and he kept trying to justify the abortion.  Meanwhile, 3 teens, 1 pre-teen and a woman was praying on the sidewalk in front while another counselor was across the alley praying.  God touched the man’s heart at some point in the conversation because he softened and eventually listened to the advice, “Go fight for your baby!”  He said, “I’m going to go talk to her!”

Not much later, a girl and her mother came out and walked over to get rosaries from the counselor.  They were there to schedule an abortion but told me that the plan had changed!  The mother of the girl was in the room when the ultrasound was done, and when she saw on the screen her grandchild move, she said, “You’re not aborting my grandbaby!”  Her daughter is 7 months along!!   And that baby could be aborted!!  Thanks be to God that the grandmother saw that ultrasound!!

As the girl was showing the ultrasound photo to the counselor, the young man mentioned earlier walked by so the counselor asked him to come look at the photo.  After a few minutes of looking and talking, he told the counselor, “Go talk to her!”   His girlfriend came over and talked to the counselor and told her that she wasn’t going to have an abortion.  She said that her boyfriend had changed his mind after talking to the counselor and that helped her because she had seen “the children praying” and that made her not want to go through with it!!

PRAYER AND WITNESS!!  The girl who’s mother saw the ultrasound—she was the recipient of prayers even if she never talked to anyone!!  The same with the young woman—and the presence of those young people touched a chord.  It is SO important that we never forget the power of prayer and witness!!

I also want to put a plug in for Heartbeat Pregnancy Center which is located across the alley from the Center for Choice.  They, along with all pregnancy centers, are crucial in the pro-life movement.  However, they particularly need our help since they ARE located near the abortion center!  They need financial help to get an ultrasound machine and all the expenses that  go along with it.  Can you imagine if they had that and we could just walk someone over for an ultrasound?!?  They also need more volunteers so they can be open longer hours, especially on Thursday evenings.  Please let others know how important our local pregnancy centers are!!

Remember—40 Days for Life is coming and we need you prayer warriors!  However, we are praying at the center year round.  Visit the Stand & Pray page at ProLifeConnection.com for more information!

In Christ our Hope,

Ann


Tomorrow is Today

I often hear that our youth is the church of tomorrow.  I never understood why the youth aren’t the church of today.  Why do they have to wait?  If our faith is somehow tied to the childlike there needs to be room for the children today.  All of us need to celebrate with a childlike faith and vitality.

It has been my pleasure and honor to work with young people throughout my 25 years of priesthood.   Youth retreats, school Masses, vacation bible schools, living rosaries and stations of the cross for youth have all been ways in which faith has come alive for the different parishes I have been in.  It is not only the youth who are renewed in faith.  Many times God speaks through these young people to enliven the faith of a parish.

Here, in Kalida, and hopefully at St. John the Baptist we have already begun the youth movement of faith.  It is exciting for me to hear children volunteer for Stations of the Cross, to record vast numbers of first time servers, lectors and Eucharistic ministers from Jr. high and high school and to have kids coming over to the rectory for Friday Night Frenzies and ping pong.

As a parish, we need to continue to grow our kids in their faith.  We need to be open to childlike ways that may include different styles of music and worship forms. Several of our youth have inquired about a mission trip to Africa.  I love it.

My favorite story about the children of today comes from Children’s Hospital in Columbus.  For the Sunday Mass the children who were patients always got the opportunity to preach if they wanted.  One girl preached 3 weeks in a row until she was released from the hospital.   A five year old said that she would like to recite the 23rd psalm that she learned in Bible School.  She did it perfectly and the adults heard a new way of hearing that the Lord was the shepherd of a five year old girl. It was lovely.

Let us pray and encourage our young people to embrace our Catholic faith.  I challenge the young people to praise God with your band instruments and your voices.  If our parish can help you grow in childlike faith, let me know. Please share your favorite stories about children worshipping in the comments.