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For further information on any of the news items listed here, please contact Alice Black, PhD, OPA, Director of Communications & Mission Advancement, at 614-416-1020.


 

Young People and the Future of the Church

Blog by Associate Frank Bevvino

In the Baptism Rite, one of the Gospel options the celebrant can choose from is Matthew 19:14 “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

What a beautiful passage. It is Jesus showing a sensitivity to and a unique understanding of the mind of young people which is unparalleled.

In October 2016, Pope Francis said “Children, who have no problem in understanding God, have much to teach us: they tell us that He accomplishes great things in those who put up no resistance to Him, who are simple and sincere, without duplicity. The Gospel shows us how great wonders are accomplished with small things.”

Adults have squandered the greatest of all resources in the Church: our youth! We have a problem when we subordinate the young to obedience because we feel that the young have little or nothing to teach us and their only role is to follow our lead.

The fancy word used to describe this is “adultism”. Adultism is a bias that adults and institutions have against young people. As parents, we assume the role of teacher and person of authority. It is ingrained in us from our own upbringing. This attitude carries over to our institutions. It is evident in homes, schools and churches.

Conversely, young people assume the role of a person always being tested and evaluated by the adult(s) present.  Remember what we were told as a young person: “children are to be seen and not heard?”

At a recent parish meeting, to discuss the closing of one of our churches, questions arose about low church attendance and the lack of young people coming to church. Many parishioners in attendance (primarily gray-haired) agreed that even in their own families their now adult children were not regular churchgoers and in some cases, their grandchildren were unbaptized and  unchurched.

There have been 16 world youth conferences since 1984. Host cities around the world have welcomed youth from all nations for prayer and festive activities. A look at the agenda of these conferences shows that there are plenty of opportunities for prayer, Eucharistic Celebrations, parties and dances. Each host city establishes the details of the activities and arranges for the venues and the appearance of speakers and celebrities. What I see missing on the agenda is any opportunity for the youth to speak and the Church to listen.

Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of Blantyre, Malawi, said at a recent press briefing: “If we ignore the call of our young people today and continue with business as usual without recognizing them, without empowering them, it means that the [church] of tomorrow will not be very powerful.”

This year, following the Youth Synod, Pope Francis wrote in Christus Vivit: “Those of us who are no longer young need to find ways to stay close to the voices and concerns of young people. Drawing together creates the conditions for the Church to become a place of dialogue and a witness to life-giving fraternity. We need to make more room for the voices of young people to be heard: listening makes possible an exchange of gifts in a context of empathy… At the same time, it sets the conditions for a preaching of the Gospel that can touch the heart truly, decisively and fruitfully.”

Many dioceses around the country annually hold youth celebrations which bring together their youth for prayer, the Sacred Liturgy and fellowship. How many of these celebrations set time aside to listen to what the young people have to say; to listen to their thoughts and to their concerns?

Perhaps one suggestion might be that every parish in a diocese organize parish youth conferences to discuss with the youth their concerns and select from the group some of the young to gather at a diocesan youth conference.

We need to start a regular dialogue with our youth. We cannot continue to let the clergy and adults guess at what the problems are. We need to talk to the young people to engage them in meaningful and ongoing dialogue. These should not be a once a year event but an ongoing, interactive conversation, where thoughts and ideas can be voiced, developed and exchanged so that we can arrive at solutions where young people see a reason to become engaged in shaping the Church of the future.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Feast of Dominic Jubilee Homily

Blog by Sr. Luisa Derouen, OP

Most of us would agree that the late ‘60’s were challenging years as our country was  turned upside down by the Vietnam war, and our church was turned upside down by Vatican II.  We were in the throes of radical change, and in 1969 when sisters were leaving in droves, Jeanne, Dot and I made final vows. The day before our vow ceremony our novitiate was abuzz with people sprucing up the grounds, busy in the kitchen preparing food, others placing lovely décor around the house and getting the chapel ready.  In conversation with one of the sisters I commented, “ Wow.  I feel overwhelmed and humbled by all that’s being done for us.”  Without batting an eye she said, “Oh we’re not doing this just for you.  The community needs this, and the whole church needs this.”  I felt properly put in my place.  But she was absolutely right, of course.

I could certainly say the same to you, Alverda, Pauline, Helen, Barbara, Terry, Harriet and Judy.  What we are doing is for you, of course, but in these times our community and the whole church needs the witness of your life’s fidelity to God and God’s people.    You and we are giving witness to the power of God’s Spirit at work now at a time when the American public image of the Catholic Church has been profoundly damaged like nothing before in the history of this country.  But God’s Spirit is alive and well in women religious.  For example, from CA to NY God’s Spirit is bringing us elder women religious together with young women and men hungry for meaning and purpose and eager to serve God’s people.  Who could have imagined such a powerful alliance between the Nuns & the Nones, or as we are also called, the Sisters and the Seekers!  And then there are our own women in formation!  Another example is that for the past several years Simone Campbell and we white haired Nuns on the Bus have been proclaiming truth to power on behalf of vulnerable people from so many arenas of life.

And what a model we have in our father Dominic whose feast we celebrate today.

The Dominican order was born out of Dominic’s passion to set people free from the tyranny of untruth.  Don’t we have our own versions of rampant untruth that Paul’s letter to Timothy warns us about? Fake narratives are tickling lots of ears! There was for Paul and for Dominic and now in our time a profound lack of trust in the truth of people’s words and the truth of their lives.

Simon Tugwell says Dominic did not deliberately set out to create something new in the church.  Rather he yielded himself faithfully to the mysterious dictates of providence.  The Church of the late 12th century needed men and women who spoke truth with their words and their lives.  We know well the stories of Dominic’s persistence, in season and out, to be personally present to those hungering for truth.  Dominic shared Pope Francis’s passion for a Culture of Encounter.  Simone Campbell spoke eloquently to us two weeks ago about the characteristics of religious life that nurture our prophetic call.  She said one of those characteristics is that we must touch the pain of our world and allow our hearts to be broken so that we may be present to it all and allow it to shape our lives.

That’s what each of our Jubiliarians has done with her life.  She has allowed her heart to be broken by the pain and need she encountered.  She has been and is the Holy Preaching. For each of them the proclamation of Isaiah from the first reading is so true.  “How beautiful on the mountain are the feet of those announcing peace.”  Each has been led by the dictates of Providence to her own unique mountain and has been the presence of God by her life and her words nurturing peace.  I asked each of them to name a specific way that her life has been the presence of God and the Holy Preaching.

Alverda’s life has been a listening presence particularly in her ministry as a hospital chaplain.  She journeyed with the sick and dying in their sacred crisis moments.

Pauline’s life has been a respectful welcoming presence particularly during her years of ministry among the homeless.

Helen’s life has been a loving faithful presence to those among whom she lived and served as a parish pastoral minister.

Barbara’s life has been an empowering presence particularly as a voice for low-income women in domestic violence cases, helping them obtain protective orders and custody of their children, and the assets rightfully theirs.

Terry’s life has been a healing and life-giving presence particularly in her many years as a nurse and midwife.

Harriet’s life has been a compassionate gentle presence particularly in her years with medically fragile children at The Home of the Innocents in Louisville.

Judy’s life has been an advocating presence particularly as Justice Promoter for the congregation speaking and writing to shine a light on many justice issues.

The young seekers out there could well be sitting at the table with any of you wise women we celebrate today because you all continue to be the presence of God’s powerful Holy Preaching.

You our sister Jubiliarians, and all of us, signed a blank check with God decades ago not knowing what the cost would be.  All of us know that it not ourselves we are sure of, but the fidelity of God who lured us with the invitation to religious life. The very end of Matthew’s Gospel we heard today is a fitting reminder to us that in our struggles and doubts along the way, Jesus promises to be with us always.  THAT we can count on.

I want to close with a reflection by Cardinal Leger to the priests of Montreal that I’ve loved for decades and have shared with many over the years.

The demand for fidelity should always be before our eyes as one of the most important aspects of our moral life of which we should be constantly aware.  The act by which we committed ourselves to God and the service of our sisters and brothers was of incomparable daring.  Fidelity is not the hardness of habit or the dead hand of unenthusiastic perseverance.  It is consent reborn and renewed in spite of the changes in life.  It is a return and an approach to the first generosity, to the first giving.  Fidelity is not a blind attachment to a single decision, much less to a principle.  It is the unchanging gift of oneself to the person loved. 

Thank you, sisters, for the unchanging gift of yourself to God, to God’s people, and to us your Dominican family.

Posted in Jubilees

Falling into Grace

Blog by Sr. Jeanne Moore

“Grateful-Grateful—Gratefulness—is flowing from my heart.”  The refrain the gospel choir frequently sings in my nearby African-American parish underscores my remembrances and narratives about a fall that necessitated a recent trip to the ER.  My feet somehow entangled themselves in a neighborhood grocery cart.  I fell backward, my head bouncing once with a sickening, terrifying thud on the parking lot, my left elbow absorbing part of the impact.

Immediately folks of all ages, genders and ethnicities rushed to my assistance, retrieving my purse and two small bags; offering help in getting me upright, a chair inside the store, a glass of water, a bag of ice for the knot on the back of my head.  Their empathy palpably cushioned my distress.

Dismissing their repeated offers to call for an ambulance, I phoned Sr. `Mary Ann Culotta.  She immediately changed her plans and drove me to the ER.  The medical team kindly tended my bruises and, within an hour, tendered the good news: a scalp contusion (bruise), not a brain concussion.  Sr. Ceal Warner retrieved my car.  What an unexpected but gratefully received conclusion to a day that began with our leisurely morning in St. Bernard civil parish. While driving to swamp-surrounded Shell Beach I shared my original EMD congregation’s 60+ year history of ministry in three parishes, my current monthly faith formation sessions with a small group there, and the availability of a lovely home for private retreats.

Mary Ann told of falling outside a bank in San Francisco when she was a graduate student several decades back.  She said, “I felt like I was invisible.  Not one person offered to help me.”  How vastly different my experience!  My white hair was surely not the crucial factor in our disparate experiences.  I’m inclined to credit southern hospitality, New Orleanians’ innate religiosity, and my nearby Dominican sisters, for the redemption I was granted.  What a gift to be able to name and sing about the falls into grace that uphold each of us through our daily ups and downs.

Posted in Just Reflecting

Moving Forward into Mystery

 

Pat Dual
Blog by Sr. Pat Dual, OP

Recently, we celebrated the Tenth Anniversary of the birth of Dominican Sisters of Peace!  Seven Dominican congregations with long and rich histories, dating as far back as 1822, united in 2009 for the sake of continuing the mission with the eighth congregation merging two years later.  Our Tenth Anniversary gathering was not only a time to rejoice with each other, we also reflected on the signs of the times and how we are called to preach the Gospel in the 21st century.   Religious life will not look as it did in the past in terms of the number of women who will enter. However, I believe the women who are in religious life, the women who are choosing to enter now and the women who will enter in the future will be enough for God’s vision.  We are all on the path of walking into that new vision, especially our women in formation and newer members.

Kentucky Visit with Annie Killian and Ellen Coates

It was really a joy to see the enthusiasm of our women in initial formation and newly professed sisters as we dialogued and worked toward envisioning our future together. They are fully aware that their numbers will be smaller than the abnormally large numbers of the past, yet their eagerness to be part of the future of religious life is not diminished.  Recently, I also had the opportunity to take some of the women in initial formation to visit St. Catharine, Kentucky, where the first American foundation of Dominican Sisters was founded in 1822.  Two of our Sisters shared with them the vibrant history of the first group of pioneering Dominican Sisters in the rolling hills of Kentucky. We visited St. Rose Catholic Church where those first nine women answered the call to form the first group of American Dominican Sisters.  As one of the women pointed out, “They entered into mystery then as we move forward into mystery today.”

 

Today, August 8, 2019 we celebrate the Feast Day of the founder of the Dominican Order, St. Dominic de Guzman.  Founded in 1216, the Dominican Family celebrates 803 years of preaching the Gospel in word and deed.  Our congregation is part of the rich heritage that forges ahead like our founder, Holy Father Dominic, following the call and vision of the Spirit.  Dominic could never have imagined the legacy he would leave simply by living into his call.  The same is true as the Dominican Sisters of Peace move toward “something new” in the future.  Together, along with our women in formation, we are not afraid of moving forward into mystery.  We have as guides and examples, the strong foundation of courageous women on whose shoulders we stand.

Want to learn more about the Dominican Sisters of Peace and help shape the future?  Why not give one of our Vocation Ministers a call.

Happy Feast Day to our Dominican Family!

Posted in God Calling??, News

FROM THE “BIG BANG” TO PROTONS, NEUTRONS AND ELECTRONS—PARTICLE PHYSICS

Blog by Sr. Pat Connick, OP

BEGINNING PONDERINGS:

Beginnings can be rough, and the start of the Big Bang is a reminder of that:

  • Have you ever been so “hot” (angry) that you can’t see straight? Calming down can make a big difference and allow things to literally settle, right?  There is an interesting parallel with the production of the fundamental particles and subsequent generations of matter from itself…
  • Similarly, have you ever felt “crowded” in a space, or backed into a corner? Again, if you can get a little space (a.k.a. experience a little expansion), things won’t seem so dense and jumbled.  Matter needed space to come emerge from energy and organize itself into more complex structures!
  • Yes, the order of matter came in stages. With particle physics, the building blocks did come together, creating exciting possibilities along the way, provided there was enough space and relative calmness (in terms of temperature)!
  • Reflect on how your unbridled anger has prevented your consideration of community!

 

THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE PONDERINGS:

FROM THE “BIG BANG” TO FUNDAMENTAL PARTICLES—PARTICLE PHYSICS I

https://3c1703fe8d.site.internapcdn.net/newman/gfx/news/hires/2017/5970d3cba1db6.jpg

In the 1920’s scientists were working out the implications of Einstein’s work on general relativity from the previous decade.  In 1929, Edwin Hubble, an American astronomer, observed the light from newly-discovered galaxies and discovered it was red-shifted, that is to say, the observed energies were less than expected, shifted towards the relatively lower energy red and away from the higher energy violet light. (This is essentially a light-version of the more familiar Doppler effect associated with sound.  Think of a passing ambulance who siren sounds higher-pitched as it approaches you and then lower-pitched after it passes and is receding away from you.)  These observations are consistent with an expanding universe, which Belgian astronomer and mathematical (theoretical) physicist George Lemaître had proposed in the year 1927 when he obtained his Ph.D. from MIT. (Independent parallel work was done by the Russian mathematican Alexandr Friedman around 1922.) Einstein was cautious about the consequences proposed from these works.

A few years later Lemaître proposed his “hypothesis of a primordial atom” as he began to consider the consequences of reversing the timeline to ask, “What might cause an expanding universe?” Today we know this idea popularly as the “Big Bang” theory, originally a disparaging name given by an early critic of Lemaître’s theory, fellow astronomer Fred Hoyle.

In the beginning according to science was the “Big Bang.”  Now this idea may sound like it is against or opposes theology, but I can assure you it does not.  Did you know that George Lemaître was also a Jesuit priest, who saw no conflict between science and religion?

The beginning of the Big Bang was necessarily hot.  Consider all the known energy (and future matter) of the universe confined to an extremely small space.  We don’t know what the very beginning was like, but we can work out what probably happened once things started.  The production of fundamental (a.k.a. elementary) particles happened in the first millionth of one second as the universe cooled down to 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000 = 1012) Kelvin (K).

Reader’s Note:  Based on our current though necessarily incomplete understanding, there are two types of fundamental, or elementary, particles in physics: fermions, associated with matter itself, and bosons, associated with the interactions between matter.  These later particles are associated with the more familiar gravitational and electromagnetic forces, and the perhaps less familiar strong and weak nuclear forces.  The Higgs boson is related to the idea of mass…

http://palaeos.com/cosmos/primordial/images/birth_of_Universe.jpg

  • Planck Epoch: At the start all 4 forces (gravity, electromagnetic, strong nuclear and weak nuclear) are assumed to be combined by the yet unconfirmed supergravity theory. The initial temperature was around 1032  There was only energy and no matter yet.
  • Grand Unification Epoch: At 10-43 s, gravity split off from the other three forces, making the Grand Unified Force and gravitons.  The universe was still unbelievably hot, 1029
  • Inflationary Epoch: At 10-36 s, as the initial temperature dropped to only 1028 K, a second fundamental force, the strong nuclear force, separated from the others, leaving the only electroweak force in a unified state.  Consequently, from 10-33 s to 10-32 s, the known universe expanded, by a factor of 1026 (!), to the size of a grapefruit.  The first particles, quarks and leptons were produced at this time. Remember E = mc2.
  • Electroweak Epoch: At 10-12 s, as the electroweak force split in the electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces, it made numerous W and Z bosons and Higgs bosons, mediating the weak nuclear force and mass, respectively. The fundamental particles were a plasma of independent quarks in a sea of gluons which was distributed through the “grapefruit” universe. Leptons split into electrons/positrons and neutrino/anti-neutrinos at this time.  Temperature: 1014
  • Quark Epoch: Shortly after the electroweak epoch until 10-6 s, that is in most of latter part of the first millionth of a second, two types of leptons, electrons and neutrinos, were formed as the temperature continued to decrease to around 1012  At this relatively cooler temperature, the electromagnetic and weak forces finally separated forming now a total of four separate forces.  The energies are still too high for the quarks to combine into hadrons like protons and neutrons.
  • By the end of the first millionth of a second, there were
    • 24 types of fermions
      • six are called quarks: up and down, charm and strange, top and bottom.
      • six are called leptons: the electron and its neutrino, the muon and its neutrino, and the tau and its neutrino.
      • six more are anti-quarks.
      • the last six are anti-leptons.
    • 4 types of gauge bosons associated with each of the forces in the universe
      • (The graviton associated with gravity is proposed but is yet to be found.)
      • gluons (strong nuclear force)
      • W bosons and Z bosons (weak nuclear force)
      • photon (electromagnetic force)
    • and 1 scalar boson, connected to the concept of mass

You Big Bang of glorious energy, bless the Lord,
Particles and antiparticles, bless the Lord,
Quarks and leptons, bless the Lord
Bosons associated with the four fundamental forces, bless the Lord,
Praise and exult God forever!

FROM FUNDAMENTAL PARTICLES TO PROTONS AND NEUTRONS—PARTICLE PHYSICS II

The electron, the third part of an atom, is also a fermion, but not of the quark type.  It is from a family called leptons which differ from quarks in that leptons do not interact with the strong nuclear force the way fermions do.  To date, quarks and leptons are the smallest particles of which we are aware.

TIMELINE AFTER THE BIG BANG

https://phys.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/University_Physics/Book%3A_University_Physics_(OpenStax)/Map%3A_University_Physics_III_-_Optics_and_Modern_Physics_(OpenStax)/11%3A_Particle_Physics_and_Cosmology/11.7%3A_Evolution_of_the_Early_Universe

We continue with our timeline of the early universe from the end of the millionth of a second to 380,000 years!

  • Hadron Epoch: In the remaining time before the first second had elapsed, as the universe cooled to a mere 1010 Kelvin, quarks began to combine into hadrons.  These include the proton (2 up quarks & 1 down quark) and the neutron (1 up quark & 2 down quarks).  This is an instance showing the power of community on the smallest known scale of matter of which we are currently aware.  Neutrinos were formed when protons were hit with electrons forming neutrons; some of these neutrons and neutrinos reverted again to electrons and protons.  These hadrons and antihadrons annihilated each other to a great degree, leaving only a slight excess of hadrons (matter) over antihadrons (antimatter).
  • The limit of energy currently attainable by the Large Hadron Collider leads us to believe that quarks are fundamental particles in our own time only, mainly because at this time we cannot create temperatures higher than this within particle accelerators! We believe this is the reason the quarks of quark-based fermions have never been observed separately from the fermions of which they are a part.
  • Lepton Epoch: Now just after l second as the universe cooled down to just 109 Kelvin, leptons and antileptons dominated the universe.  Leptons and anti-leptons took up to 200x longer (until about 3 minutes) to annihilate one another, leaving again a slight excess of leptons (matter) over antileptons (antimatter).  Specifically, as electrons and positrons (antielectrons) collided and annihilated each other, photons were created and vice versa.
  • Big Bang Nucleosynthesis: Now that the stage was cleared a bit and as cooling continued down to 107 Kelvin allowing the strong nuclear force to take hold, protons and neutrons were finally able to form simple nuclei (no atoms with electrons), from 3 to 20 minutes:
    • [Protons by themselves make up hydrogen-1. This is not a “combination” nucleus like the others that follow.]
    • Deuterium, hydrogen-2, a combination of 1 proton and 1 neutron, the simplest “combination” nucleus
    • Helium-3, a combination of 2 protons and 1 neutron.
    • Helium-4, a combination of 2 protons and 2 neutrons.
    • Lithium-7, a combination of 2 protons and 4 neutrons.
  • Until about 380,000 years from the Big Bang, expansion and cooling continued to just above 4000 K, the universe now consisted of
    • atomic nuclei: roughly 75% hydrogen-1. The fusion reactions made most of the remaining 25% as helium-4.  Much smaller amounts, on the order of 0.01% were made of deuterium and helium-3.  A smaller amount of lithium was also made.
    • free electrons, unbound to nuclei.
    • energy, in the form of photons.

Protons and neutrons, bless the Lord,
Atomic nuclei, bless the Lord,
Free electrons, bless the Lord,
Photons of energy, bless the Lord,
Praise and exult God above all forever! 

REFERENCES—Timeline of the Big Bang:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdPzOWlLrbE  National Geographic Video

www.physicsoftheuniverse.com/topics_bigbang_timeline.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronology_of_the_universe

https://science.howstuffworks.com/dictionary/astronomy-terms/big-bang-theory4.htm

https://web.njit.edu/~gary/202/Lecture26.html

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang_nucleosynthesis

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word