February is BLACK HISTORY MONTH and a time when local parishes can focus on African Americans, their faith, and families.
February marks CATHOLIC PRESS MONTH. The theme this year is "A Journey of Faith in the New Millennium: Let Catholic Newspapers, Magazines and Books Be Your Guide." For more information, contact Owen McGovern, Executive Director, Catholic Press Association, 516/471-4730.
Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities meets in Washington, DC, February 1-2.
Feast of the Presentation of Jesus, February 2, is the time when the Church blesses candles for the year.
Feast of St. Blase, an Armenian bishop credited with miraculously saving the life of a boy who had half-swallowed a fish bone, is February 3. A popular church ritual on or near this feast is the blessing of throats when a priest holds two candles at the neck of a person and offers a special prayer to St. Blase to protect the person from throat ailments.
Conference on the Catholic - Lutheran Joint Declaration on Justification by Faith will be held at Yale University, February 4-6. Bishop Walter Kasper, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will preside.
World Day for Consecrated Life, highlighting men and women religious and members of secular institutes, will be celebrated in U.S. parishes nationwide February 5-6. Kits for the event were distributed to communications directors earlier this month and to vicars for religious in late Fall. More information on vocations can be found on www.nccbuscc.org/vocations.
National Day of Prayer for the African American Family is February 6. Founded in 1989, this first Sunday of Black History Month is set aside as a day for Catholics to give special thanks to God for our heritage. Families nationwide are called upon to worship together, to have a meal together while discussing a family's story, and to make at least one resolution for the family to fulfill in the course of the coming year.
Jubilee of the Sick and Health Care Workers is February 11. Either the Sunday before or the Sunday after can serve as a focal point for a parish to reflect on the power of the healing sacrament and to bless those who are sick and those who care for them in facilities and at home. A packet focused on catechesis for the day is available from the National Association of Catholic Chaplains, 414/483-4898.
World Marriage Day, February 13, honors husband and wife as head of the family. Celebrations across the country will range from renewing marriage vows to "sweetheart dances." More information is available from Curtis and Lorraine Lauret, WMD Team for Year 2000, 860/651-1206.
National Brotherhood and Sisterhood Week will be celebrated February 14-18. Information is available from the National Council of Catholics for Interracial Justice, 202/529-6480.
Approximately 500 deacons, wives and family members will be in Rome from February 18th - 23rd, in time to celebrate Jubilee Day for Permanent Deacons and Their Wives on Sunday, February 20th. A number of deacons are scheduled to be ordained in St. Peter's Basilica on that day. For more information, contact NCCB Secretariat for the Diaconate, 202/541-3038.
Dioceses such as the Archdiocese of Washington will use the February 21, Presidents' Day federal holiday to focus on bringing the message of Catholic social teaching to Capitol Hill. This annual "lobby day" focuses on the national legislative agenda and includes meetings with senators and representatives. The bishops' recent statement, Faithful Citizenship: Civic Responsibility for a New Millennium, urges Catholics to participate in the political process this presidential election year.
The Annual National Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, in Washington will be held February 26 - March 1. Hundreds in the field of diocesan social action will gather in Washington to participate in workshops and plenaries related to the social teaching, and to meet with their elected representatives on Capitol Hill. For more information, call 202/541-3191.
Annual Convention of the National Organization for Continuing Education of Roman Catholic Clergy will be February 28-March 2 in Oakland, CA.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR. Encuentro 2000, the national jubilee year celebration for the Church in the United States, will be at the Los Angeles Convention Center, July 6-9. Keynote speakers and leaders of almost 80 workshops sessions will be announced soon. More information can be found at www.encuentro2000.org.