U.S. Catholic Bishops Respond to the Crisis in Kosovo
The U.S. Catholic bishops are extremely concerned about the plight of Kosovar refugees fleeing the terror engulfing their homeland. "The bishops have issued several recent statements," says Mark Franken, Executive Director of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS). "They address the Serbian aggression, ethnic cleansing, NATO bombing campaign and the flight of refugees out of Kosovo." Through the work of Catholic Relief Services, the Catholic Church in the United States is helping to meet the immediate humanitarian needs created by the crisis. MRS is seeking long-term strategies and advocating for durable solutions with the U.S. government and international community. They also have sent a staff policy advisor to the region to assess firsthand what is happening with the refugees and to better inform its ongoing policy objectives. A bishops' delegation to the region is likely to follow in the near future.
Mark Franken can be reached at 202-541-3169.
Mother's Day Celebrates Grandmothers Too
The United Nations has designated 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons. This coming Mother's Day, May 9, provides a wonderful opportunity to honor the grandmothers, great-grandmothers, great aunts and other older women in our lives. "In many families the influence of these women is immense," says Sheila Garcia, advisor to the U.S. Bishops on women's concerns. "They care for grandchildren, host family get-togethers, and pass on their family's cultural heritage." On their special day one might ask them to recount a humorous family anecdote, share a favorite devotional practice, or divulge their secret for a long and fulfilling life.
Sheila Garcia can be reached at 202-541-3040.
High School and College Graduates Make Difficult Transitions Marked with Care and Encouragement
Both high school and college seniors are getting ready to go through major transitions. After graduation, life is never the same. Routines of school, work, friends, maybe even faith practices, that were once so familiar will be taking shape differently. "The Catholic faith community has a role and responsibility in helping young people make such transitions," says Michelle Miller, the Youth and Young Adult Program Specialist for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Preparing those approaching such changes helps to ease some of the anxiety and frustration. Faith communities can help celebrate what has been, as well as welcome new opportunities and experiences. The recognition of particular 'rites of passage' is a beautiful way to show these young people that the whole faith community is there and interested in their lives."
Michelle Miller can be reached at 202-541-3044.
May Signifies New Beginnings as Priests Are Ordained
Springtime signals the beginning of not only graduation from high schools and colleges, but also seminaries. "Last year 508 men were ordained priests and similar numbers are expected this year," says Father Timothy Reker, Director of the U.S. Bishops' Office for Vocations and Priestly Formation. Dioceses and religious orders were surveyed to learn more about those to be ordained in the Class of '99 and a press kit containing the report and other information will be made available.
Father Timothy Reker can be reached at (202) 541-3033.
World Communications Day Promotes Values
World Communications Day is May 16. This annual day, declared by Pope John Paul II, has significance to both secular and religious audiences. This year's message is Mass Media: A Friendly Companion for Those in Search of the Father. The Pope's message emphasizes the importance of the reciprocal relationship that exists between the Church and the media. His message reiterates the need to utilize the media as "a love which creates" and not a "force which destroys." The annual Catholic Communication Campaign collection is taken in many dioceses during this annual event. According to Ramon E. Rodriguez, Director of Development for the Campaign, "The CCC supports the Pope's message by producing values-driven programs, documentaries and public service announcements."
Ramon E. Rodriguez can be reached at 202-541-3237.