ALERT: Pope John Paul II will visit St. Louis, Missouri, January 26-27. Applications for media credentials can be received by contacting the Department of Communications at 202-541-3200.
December 4-18, World Council of Churches General Assembly meeting will take place in Harare, Zimbabwe. The theme of the meeting is: Turn to God, Rejoice in Hope.
December 6 celebrates the Feast of St. Nicholas. The occasion recalls how Bishop Nicholas provided three bags of gold as dowries for destitute young women who otherwise would not have been able to marry. Today the saint is associated with the gift giving of Santa Claus on December 25. In another celebration, on December 5, the eve of his feast, children put their shoes outside their door where during the night they are mysteriously filled with candy and other treats.
The patroness of the United States, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, is honored December 8. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., is home to many smaller shrines which honor the Blessed Virgin as she is venerated by the many ethnic groups which make up the United States. Among the shrines is one to Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is December 12, and who is venerated especially in Mexico and other Hispanic nations. This might be a time to speak with media about Marian devotion.
The 1998 Retirement Fund for Religious Collection, will be taken up in parishes on the weekend of December 12-13. For further information, contact Sister Mary Leahy, SP, at 202-541-3217.
The First Christmas, a CCC funded program, will air on the Odyssey and PAX networks in December. The First Christmas is a colorful claymation production using narration from the New Testament. It tells the traditional story of the birth of Jesus, beginning with Mary and Joseph's trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem, meeting the innkeeper, the birth in the stable, the announcement to the shepherds, and the Magi who follow the star across the desert to bring their gifts. It will air on Odyssey November 28 at 1:00 p.m. ET. It will be repeated on: December 14 at 12:30 p.m. ET, December 15 at 3:00 a.m. ET, December 18 at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. ET, December 19 at 11:00 a.m. ET, and December 25 at 3:00 p.m. ET. PAX will air this program on December 10 at 7:00 p.m. ET and December 25 at 4:00 p.m. ET. For further information, contact Pat Garcia at 202-541-3404.
Another CCC funded program, Michael the Visitor, will air on the Odyssey network. This claymation production was adapted from Leo Tolstoy's tale entitled Truths We Live By. This heartwarming story centers on a poor shoemaker named Simon, who with his family meets and learns valuable lessons from a young man named Michael during three unusual occurrences. It will air on Odyssey December 18 at 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET and December 19 at 11:30 a.m. ET. For further information, contact Pat Garcia at 202-541-3404.
The Third Millennium preparation theme for this year's Advent is: A People of Forgiveness and Justice on a Journey to the Father. This is the final year of preparation for the Great Jubilee as designated by Pope John Paul II. During this Christmas season the Bishops' Subcommittee on the Third Millennium invites families and households to designate a door of the home as their jubilee door. Brochures with further information on designating household doors can be received by contacting the Office of the Third Millennium at 202-541-3244.
Christmas Eve, December 24, features the annual airing of Midnight Mass from Vatican City on NBC.
Christmas is December 25 but the opportunity to provide media with photo ops will exist long before as schools, hospitals and parishes set up creches. Let media know of manger scenes that are especially lovely. Other photo ops include those of groups wrapping gifts for the poor and collecting toys for needy children. This also is a time to notify radio stations of musical possibilities, such as choir rehearsals and holiday concerts.
Planning kits for the celebration of the 1999 World Day for Consecrated Life have been sent to bishops and vicars for religious and will be sent to the media at the end of December. The event will be celebrated in parishes and dioceses Sunday, January 31. Copies can be requested by contacting Donise Waters at 202-541-3409.
The third and final Millennium kit -- Evangelize -- also will be distributed at the end of December. Copies of the first two -- Celebrate and Reconcile -- are still available by contacting the Department of Communications at 202-541-3200.
The following dioceses can be reached by E-mail: ALASKA: Fairbanks, Juneau. ARIZONA: Phoenix, Tucson. CALIFORNIA: Monterey, Oakland, Orange, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose. COLORADO: Colorado Springs, Denver. CONNECTICUT: Hartford, Bridgeport. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Washington. FLORIDA: Miami, Orlando, Palm Beach, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, Venice. GEORGIA: Savannah. HAWAII: Honolulu. IDAHO: Boise. ILLINOIS: Chicago, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford, Springfield. INDIANA: Evansville, Forth Wayne-South Bend, Indianapolis, Lafayette. IOWA: Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque, Sioux City. KANSAS: Kansas City in Kansas. KENTUCKY: Louisville, Lexington, Owensboro. LOUISIANA: Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Houma-Thibodaux, Lafayette, Lake Charles, New Orleans, Shreveport. MAINE: Portland. MARYLAND: Baltimore. MASSACHUSETTS: Boston, Melkite Diocese of Newton. MICHIGAN: Detroit, Gaylord, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Marquette. MINNESOTA: Crookston, New Ulm, St. Cloud, St. Paul and Minneapolis, Winona. MARYLAND: Baltimore. MISSISSIPPI: Jackson. MISSOURI: Jefferson City, Kansas City-St. Joseph, St. Louis, Springfield-Cape Girardeau. MONTANA: Great Falls-Billings, Helena. NEBRASKA: Omaha. NEVADA: Las Vegas. NEW HAMPSHIRE: Manchester. NEW JERSEY: Camden, Newark, Passaic, Paterson, Trenton. NEW MEXICO: Las Cruces. NEW YORK: Brooklyn, Buffalo, New York, Ogdensburg. Rochester, Rockville Centre; Syracuse. NORTH CAROLINA: Charlotte, Raleigh. NORTH DAKOTA: Bismarck, Fargo. OHIO: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo. OKLAHOMA: Oklahoma City, Tulsa. OREGON: Baker, Portland. PENNSYLVANIA: Altoona-Johnstown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Scranton. RHODE ISLAND: Providence. SOUTH CAROLINA: Charleston. SOUTH DAKOTA: Rapid City, Sioux Falls. TENNESSEE: Memphis. TEXAS: Amarillo, Austin, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Ft. Worth, Lubbock, San Angelo, Victoria. VERMONT: Burlington. VIRGINIA: Richmond. WASHINGTON: Seattle, Spokane, Yakima. WEST VIRGINIA: Wheeling-Charleston. WISCONSIN: Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, La Crosse. WYOMING: Cheyenne.
If any communications director wants to be added to the list, please e-mail Sr. Mary Ann Walsh at email@example.com.