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Reflections on the 2016 Election by the Catholic Bishops of Kansas


Blue Mass Celebrated

The Register

Salina — Dressed in uniform, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, EMTs and firefighters filled the pews at St. Mary Queen of the Universe on Sept. 23 at the first Blue Mass celebrated in the Diocese of Salina.

“I think it is a proper time for us to do two very important things: The first is to say thank you,” Bishop Edward Weisenburger said. “We truly are grateful for who you are and for what you do.

“The second thing I need to do today is the more important. It is a joy for us to lift you up in prayer. To pray that God will keep you safe, give you strength in your duties.”

About 30 first responders attended the Mass, which was also attended by the students at St. Mary Grade School.


The bishop said it is important for students and clergy alike to extend thanks to those who protect and serve.

“The truth is you probably don’t need our thanks, but we need to say it,” he said.  “Your presence allows us to pray for you and say thank you. It is one more kindness on your part for which we are grateful.”

Ed Feil is the chief of the Rice County Fire Dept, which is about 30 miles west of McPherson. He attended the Blue Mass at the invitation of his grandchildren: fifth grader Landen Pilcher and ninth grader Aidan Pilcher.

“I was very impressed with the entire ceremony,” he said. “The thing that bishop touched on that it’s an opportunity to say thank you — that’s very true. Everybody I have been associated with doesn’t do it for the thank you. They do it because that’s what they want to be doing.”

Andrew White lives in Salina but travels to Wichita to work a paramedic with Sedgwick County EMS. His two sons, Beckem and Leder Radke, are in second grade and kindergarten, respectively.

“I felt honored to be there,” White said. “I say a prayer before every shift that we help people who need help and still make it home safe.”

He said emergency services are all part of a big family. Feil agreed.

“It gave me the opportunity to meet a few people,” Fiel said. “(Law enforcement and emergency services) are a family. It didn’t matter if I didn’t know them before. I had the chance to meet some new guys.”

In the midst of the fifth grade class, Detective Calvin Sanders from the Riley County Police Department sat with his niece, Jordan Compagnone. 

“This was completely new for me,” he said. “I’ve been to Mass with family before, but not for first responders.”

Sanders said the show of support is always appreciated.

“With recent events around the country it helps a little more knowing the community fully supports you,” he said.

During the homily, Bishop Weisenburger shared some of his history with first responders who responded to the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. 

“I was not prepared for what I walked into,” the bishop said of his assignment to serve as chaplain to emergency responders. “Two things stood out in my mind. One is the senseless act of violence that did so much destruction. The other was the commitment, compassion to victims and especially their family members, and the professionalism of the first responders.

“Their selfless actions were part of what really redeemed a act sense of senseless hatred and brought order to chaos.”

St. Mary Grade School in Salina adds new technology lab

Salina — Teaching students the skills that will propel them into the future is the goal of the new technology lab at St. Mary Grade School.

A ribbon cutting was held Sept. 26 at the school for the lab, which will teach students not only computer coding skills, but graphic design as well.

“What these kids will see, experience, and be a part of as adults can hardly be imagined. The biggest difference by far? Technology,” said Michael Beeson, who teaches religion, math and English in addition to his new technology class. “It is increasingly, at a rate we really can’t comprehend, becoming their life. It is their life.”

The new lab includes 17 new MacBooks and software such as Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. The intention is to help equip the fifth and sixth grade students with technology skills early. 

“A large percentage of computer-related fields may go unfilled in the years to come due to shortages of qualified applicants,” Beeson said. “Teachers must find ways to introduce and allow computer-based opportunities for kids, at even a very young age.”

In addition to coding during the his computer classes, Beeson said his class is working on building games. 

“After eight weeks, kids in my class are currently building simple Atari-like games and are able to share their projects online,” he said. “This is how we need to prepare our kids for the mid-21st century work force.”

Beeson’s students are also creating stop-motion animation. 

“In this class, kids are not only using computers, software, and cameras, but also are learning to brainstorm ideas with each other,” he said.

“The collaboration and team  building in creating projects is a positive skill being learned,” said Nick Compagnone, executive director of St. Mary Grade School. 

In addition to interactive programs with computers, art teacher Krista DeMars is working with students to create “products” using graphic design skills.

Students will produce pamphlets, brochures, book covers and other publications. Other applications for instruction include engineering design using simple designs in architecture, bridges and other structures.

Beeson said the new lab has pushed him to expand his teaching methods in the classroom.

“I’ve taken a different approach — recording my own math lessons and posting them on YouTube for students to view,” he said. “They love being able to pause or rewind Mr. Beeson at home.”

The computer hardware and software for the lab were obtained through a partnership with Smoky Valley Virtual School. Other partners include Consolidated Printing and The Salina Community Foundation.

Students at K-State hear how friends, environment shape future

Special to The Register

Manhattan — More than 100 students gathered Sept. 1 at St. Robert Bellarmine — St. Isidore Catholic Student Center to participate in the first Source and Summit of the fall semester. 

The Source and Summit event is held the first Thursday of every month. Students gather to sing praise and worship music, listen to a guest speaker, adore Christ in Eucharistic adoration, and participate in Mass.

September’s guest speaker was Father Gale Hammerschmidt, the co-vocational director for the Diocese of Salina. He talked to the students about how their environment will shape them and their decisions. He was trying to make sure that the students change their environment instead of letting it negatively change them, and to question whether their environment would “make them a saint or not?”

Father Hammerschmidt said he was impressed by how many students gathered together to listen and learn about God’s love.

“With this being my third time speaking at Source and Summit, I continue to be impressed with the desire of the students to come to a deeper knowledge of the truth, and deeper love of God,” he said. “If somebody would have told me that this event would have grown to be so large, I would have laughed at them. This turnout was very impressive.” 


CYO connects your to faith, friends, adults

The Register

Oakley — Slip ’N Slides, several dozen middle and high school students and a kickball might not sound like a religious gathering, but it’s exactly how the St. Joseph CYO in Oakley began its year.

“We made a baseball diamond out of Slip ’N Slides and had a kiddie pool where the bases were,” said sophomore Jeffrey Huffman. “You had to slide or you were out automatically.”

The youth at St. Joseph Parish, like many youth across the diocese, are gathering as the school year begins to renew and deepen friendships.

Sister Barbara Ellen Apaceller, C.S.J., is the director of youth ministry and religious education for the Diocese of Salina. She said engaging students while still in grade and high school is vital to the church. 

“Our teens are not simply the ‘church of the future,’ ” she said. “The youth are an important part of the ‘church here and now.’ They became part of the church with baptism. They have gifts and talents that our church desperately needs, and they have the energy to affect the difference. We need to include them now, not just wait until they are older.”

Twin sisters Courtney and Caitlin Tinkham are juniors in the CYO at Sacred Heart Parish in Colby. The duo said they enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of the group.

“During that 90 minutes, I don’t have to worry about other things I have to do,” Courtney Tinkham said. “I can just go to CYO, learn about God and relax.

“In high school, there are a lot of negative things that go on. I feel like CYO is something that helps you become a better person, helps you deal with negativity. When you go to CYO, all of the negativity drops.”

Like many, the Tinkhams have been involved in CYO convention and the National Catholic Youth Conference.

“When we had Mass, it was really cool because everyone was signing and participating,” Caitlin Tinkham said. “Some people think Catholics are strict, but at NCYC you know nobody will ask you questions about being Catholic. Everyone loves God as much as I do.”

Samantha Ptacek, one of the CYO leaders at St. Mary Queen of Angels Parish in Russell, is a high school senior. She said incorporating faith into her friendships through the organization is a natural progression.

“I’ve gained life-long friendships,” she said. “I’ve also learned how your faith can be fun. It needs to be serious, but you can have fun while you’re doing it.”

Ptacek said she is looking forward to a mixer event this fall where the group has invited some of the priests they have befriended via Prayer and Action and CYO camp. Several priests will join them for a cookout.

“It will be a good way for the freshman to meet priests we’ve gotten to know as upper classmen,” she said.

Ptacek said it is vital for youth organizations to have adult sponsors, such as Michelle and John Farmer, who are willing to invest in high schoolers.

“It means so much that they look at us as equals and treat us as young adults,” Ptacek said. “When you have adults in our church who are in charge of (CYO), you’re able to develop a friendship with an adult. You don’t have the opportunity to do that in other settings. It’s incredible to have adults who put time and efforts into us as high school kids.”

Sister credits the adult youth leaders who engage the teens at the parish level.

“The youth need the mentors to help guide their footsteps today,” she said. “These adults continue to provide opportunities and experiences that allow our youth to truly answer Jesus’ call to follow Him.”­­

Catholic Charities fundraiser success

By The Register

Salina — The annual fundraiser for Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas had many firsts on July 24.

It was the most successful fundraiser in the organization’s history, raising nearly $300,000.

 Eric Frank, director of development for Catholic Charities, said that the 2016 fundraiser was the most successful in history, with nearly $300,000 raised.  He added that the money raised from the annual fundraiser will bring important services and necessities to families in crisis.

“Poverty is not seasonal,” he said. “People come to our doors all year long and because of our donors, families and individuals can find relief from the emotional and financial stresses they face.”

 Another first was the location: The Salina Country Club. The evening included a cocktail hour, dinner and live auction.


St. Therese Radio celebrates first year, works to add local programming

Abilene — Grow in Holiness. The call letters of the St. Therese Radio station are a daily reminder to its founders and listeners alike to keep moving forward.

“It’s a labor of love and has become a passion,” said  Katheryn Wilson, president of St. Therese radio. “It’s definitely a story of perseverance.”

On Oct. 5, 2015, the low power radio station received its FCC license to operate. Prior to that date, the station was in a test phase. 

In the station’s first full year on air, Wilson said she has learned so many lessons.

“I wasn’t groomed to be a president or chairman of a station,” she said. “I’d never even been on a board. Surprisingly enough, God equips you along the way.

“There were many bumps in the road. Many doors closed and others opened.”

Wilson said she became interested in starting a Catholic radio station after hearing Teresa Tomeo speak at a Women of Grace Conference in Lincoln, Neb.

“I’ve been listening to Christian radio for 30 years and didn’t know there was such a thing as Catholic radio stations,” she said. 

Yet the idea made sense to her, so Wilson spoke with fellow parishioners at St. Andrew Church in Abilene.

It is due to the support of friends and those in the parish that the station is up and running.

Once the station received permission from the bishop, the community rallied via fundraisers, including garage sales, to help purchase the tower, tower building and necessary equipment to begin the station. 

“We’ve had many friends from Hays and Dodge City who have come along side us and sent us things we needed, even manpower, and wanted nothing in return. Just to help us,” Wilson said.

Men from the Salina Rescue Mission built the tower building. 

The station, which is on the air 24 hours daily, broadcasts content from EWTN in Alabama.

While the station currently broadcasts national content, Wilson said they have used short clips from homilies of Father Gale Hammerschmidt, Father Jarett Konrade and Father Kyle Berens. She also recently interviewed Sister April Hoffman, who took her first vows in August with the Salesian Sisters.

“The interview with Sister April was our first attempt — it will be our beginning of local programing,” Wilson said.

Currently, only content from EWTN is available to stream on the website. Eventually, the goal is to include the local interviews on the site. The intention is for the station to be considered a community station, with local announcements and information.

St. Therese Radio is a low power station, which means its reach is between five and 15 miles. Wilson said the station is working toward the goal of a “listen live” button on the website, which will make the station’s content more widely available.

“In the future we hope to have live streaming, and we’re still trying to switch over to satellite,” Wilson said. “The other possibility is to get a translator which will rebroadcast our signal to another town.”

Another option is to open another low power FM station in another town in the diocese, but she said those are future dreams. To help accomplish them, the station will do an on air pledge drive, and seek out businesses that would like to underwrite the station.  

For now, the station and its supporters keep moving forward, growing in holiness all the while.

St. Therese Radio is a 501 (C) (3), non profit that is run entirely by volunteers. For more information, visit kgih.org.

Featured Events

Catholic News Headlines

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Gregory A. ShemitzBy Beth GriffinNEW YORK (CNS) -- When Donald J. Trump stepped over yet another invisible line of the contentious presidential race Oct. 20, many of the 1,500 people at 71st annual dinner of the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation broke historic precedent to boo him. Candidates Trump and Hillary Clinton flanked the host, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, on the five-tiered dais of the Grand Ballroom at the heavily secured Waldorf Astoria hotel for the charitable gala. The event has been a traditional opportunity for speakers to poke good-natured fun at themselves, one another, and prominent guests from the worlds of politics, business and philanthropy without inflicting wounds. In 1928, Alfred E. Smith, former governor of New York who was raised in poverty, was the first Catholic nominated by a major political party to run for president of the United States. Despite an introductory warning delivered as a humor-coated reminder of the evening's ground rules by emcee Alfred E. Smith IV, chairman of the dinner, Trump veered from the safety of chuckle-inducing barbs and zings. He said she is "so corrupt" she was kicked off the Watergate commission. The room erupted in a crescendo of boos and shoutouts, as he lobbed one accusation after another that his opponent is deceptive and a Catholic-hater. "She is here tonight ... pretending not to hate Catholics," he said. Decorum was restored when the Republican nominee recalled past Al Smith dinners as a special occasion to spend time with his father, developer Fred Trump. Smith, a great-grandson of the foundation's namesake, aimed jokes equally at both candidates and reflected the general discomfort of the electorate with them. He told Trump to watch his language because "even though the man sitting next to you is in a robe, you're not in a locker room." He advised Clinton to remain stoic in the face of insults during the evening by considering it a fourth debate. Noting the proximity on Fifth Avenue of St. Patrick's Cathedral to Trump Tower, Smith said Trump's appearance was historic, marking the first time the Catholic Church was not the largest tax-exempt landowner at the dinner. Trump was greeted warmly with applause. He quipped that the huge event was a small intimate dinner with friends for him, but that it counted as his opponent's largest crowd of the season. Trump gave a shoutout to politicians in the room who formerly loved him, but turned on him when he sought the Republican nomination. He said the dinner gives candidates an opportunity to meet one another's teams and those working hard to get them elected. As he spoke, he pointed out chairmen of media corporations seated on the dais and among the assembly. As an example that the media is biased against him, Trump said Michelle Obama gave a speech that everyone loved, but when his wife, Melania, delivered the exact same speech, "people got all over her case. I don't get it." Trump said he knows Clinton is very gracious because, if elected, she wants him to be her ambassador to either Iraq or Afghanistan. Trump said the presidential debates were the most vicious in the history of politics. In a rare reflective moment, he turned to Clinton and asked, "Are we supposed to be proud of it?" We need to stand up to anti-Catholic bias, defend religious liberty and create a culture that celebrates life, Trump concluded. Trump sat down to mixed applause and boos. Retaking the microphone, Smith said, "As Ronald Reagan would say, 'There you go again!'" He noted the dinner raised a record $6 million. The Democratic nominee was introduced to a standing ovation. Clinton said the fiery populist Al Smith would be proud of the money raised at the event, but if he saw the "room full of plutocrats" gathered to celebrate his legacy, he'd be confused. Clinton said she was taking a break from her rigorous nap schedule to attend, but the event was also treat for the guests because she usually charges a lot for a speech. She said she was a little amazed at the opportunity to speak, because she didn't think her opponent would be OK with a peaceful transition of power. Clinton said, "Every year this dinner brings together a collection of sensible, committed mainstream Republicans, or as we now like to call them, Hillary supporters." She said critics accuse her of saying only what listeners want to hear. "Tonight that is true. This is exactly what you want to hear. This election will be over very, very soon." Clinton said when Trump wanted her to undergo a pre-debate drug test, "I was so flattered he thought I used some sort of performance-enhancers. Actually I did. It's called preparation." Trump has questioned her stamina, Clinton said, but over the course of three debates, she has stood next to him for longer than any of his campaign managers. She said Trump is so concerned about her health, he sent a car to bring her to the dinner. "Actually it was a hearse." Nonetheless, Clinton said if elected, "I will be the healthiest and youngest woman ever to serve." Clinton said one of the things the candidates have in common is the Republican National Committee "isn't spending a dime to help either one of us." Turning serious, Clinton said it's easy to forget how far the country has come. When Al Smith ran for office, she said there were rumors that he would forbid Bible-reading in schools, annul Protestant marriages and make the Holland Tunnel into a secret passageway to the Vatican so the pope could rule the country. "Those appeals to fear and division can cause us to treat each other as 'the other.' Rhetoric like that makes it harder for us to respect each other," she said. "We need to get better at finding ways to disagree on matters of policy while agreeing on questions of decency and civility," she said. Although the candidates shook hands across Cardinal Dolan at the dinner, he jokingly attributed his nascent cold at the benediction to having spent two hours seated between them, which he said is "the iciest pace on the planet. Where is global warming when you need it?" He noted the funds raised at the dinner would provide grants for thousands of mothers and children who are most in need and least visible to society. Dinner guests in formal attire sat elbow-to-elbow at gold-covered tables in the ballroom and its two balconies. The $3,000-a plate meal included a seafood trio appetizer, tournedos of beef and a chocolate dessert duet. Metropolitan Opera soprano Nadine Sierra sang the national anthem from the dais, set against the backdrop of a huge American flag.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Erik De Castro, ReutersBy Alastair WanklynTOKYO (CNS) -- Heavy damage was reported to homes and farm land in the northern Philippines Oct. 20 after the strongest storm in three years struck overnight. Typhoon Haima barreled into northern Cagayan and Isabella provinces, ripping the roofs off homes and flattening crops. By late Oct. 21, 13 people had been reported dead, and Haima hit southern China. Nearly every building in the city of Tuguegarao was damaged, Philippine media quoted officials as saying. The city's communication links were down Oct. 20, and phone calls to the archdiocesan office in Tuguegarao did not connect. Across the district, many roads were flooded or blocked by fallen trees. Aid groups said the disruption made it difficult to assess the extent of damage, with one aid official calling it "a communications black hole." Thousands of people in neighboring Isabella province spent the night sheltering in public evacuation centers such as schools and churches. "Most of the time, the churches serve as evacuation centers if the government evacuation centers cannot accommodate some of the people," April Ann Abello-Bulanadi, a spokeswoman for Catholic aid group Caritas Philippines, said by phone from Manila. Caritas released a summary of reports from parishes of how they had prepared for the storm. Some of them reported holding stocks of relief goods. One diocese said it had been giving out disaster advice at Mass. And in one district, a church compound was designated the local relief staging ground for emergency supplies, so that residents and aid groups alike would know where to go. "The parishes are very important because they are the ones who are already present on the ground," Bulanadi said. There was no estimate of the total damage to agriculture, but northern Luzon is a center of rice and corn farming, and the storm was feared to have wiped out crops shortly before harvest. The day after the typhoon, Caritas officials were expected to monitor video from a drone flown over the disaster zone by Philippine aerial imagery startup SkyEye Analytics Inc. Such images can identify communities that are cut off and roads that may be accessible for aid teams. Haima is the 12th typhoon to strike the Philippines this year. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan killed at least 6,300 people and forced around 5 million from their homes. The humanitarian disaster following Haiyan served as a wake-up call for authorities and residents alike. Today, aid workers say, there is a higher alertness by state agencies and greater willingness by residents to follow evacuation advisories. Caritas said Haiyan also highlighted the importance of community-led disaster risk reduction, such as identifying safe houses and checking on neighbors. In the three years since that disaster, Caritas has worked to create a more coordinated readiness by the church nationwide. "Now we are trying to include as many dioceses as possible, not just dioceses from the provinces affected, but we are also capacitating dioceses from the other provinces, so that they would also be prepared when such a typhoon like this would happen again here in the Philippines," Bulanadi said. Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' international relief and development agency, is part of the Caritas network. Matthew McGarry, country representative, said the "institutional knowledge" of responding and rebuilding structures and lives since Typhoon Haiyan have helped shape its approach today. In January 2015, Pope Francis paid a short visit to Tacloban, one of the cities badly hit by Typhoon Haiyan. At Mass in the city, he paid tribute to church and lay workers who helped those left homeless. "To those of you who housed and fed people seeking safety, in churches, convents, rectories, and who continue to assist those still struggling, I thank you," he said. "You are a credit to the church. You are the pride of your nation. "For whatever you did for the least of Christ's brothers and sisters, you did for him." But there was a reminder of the Philippines' storm-prone nature when Pope Francis cut short his visit. He said the pilots of his plane feared worsening conditions would prevent it taking off safely. - - - Contributing to this story was Simone Orendain in Chicago.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When a choir director and parish priest differ over liturgical music, the choir should follow in good faith the wishes of the priest for the sake of unity, said the papal liturgist. When it comes to celebrating the liturgy, "we should never fight," Msgr. Guido Marini told choir members, directors and priests. "Otherwise, we distort the very nature" of what the people of God should be doing during the Mass, which is seeking to be "one body before the Lord." The papal master of liturgical ceremonies spoke Oct. 21 at a conference opening a three-day jubilee for choirs. Hundreds of people involved in providing music for the liturgical celebrations in Italian dioceses and parishes -- such as singers, organists and musicians -- attended, as did directors of diocesan liturgy offices and schools of sacred music. During a brief question-and-answer period after his talk on the role of the choir, a participant asked Msgr. Marini what she termed "an uncomfortable, practical question." "Many times, in our parishes, the priest wants the choir to perform songs that are inappropriate, both because of the text" and because of the moment the song is to be performed during the service, she said. "In these situations, must the choir master follow the wishes of the priest even with the knowledge that by doing so, the choir is no longer serving the liturgy, but the priest?" she said to applause. Asked for his advice, Msgr. Marini smiled, cast his eyes upward and rubbed his chin signaling his awareness that it was a hot-button topic. He said he felt "sandwiched" "between two fires, between priests and choirs." Acknowledging the difficulty of such a situation, he said he sided with the priest. There are situations where priests may not be giving completely correct guidance, he said, and there are directors that could be doing better. But in either case, conflict and division should be avoided and "humility and communion be truly safeguarded," he said. This, like with all disagreements, he said, requires that all sides be very patient with each other, sit down and talk, and explain the reasons behind their positions. But if no conclusion or final point is reached, then "perhaps it is better also to come out of it momentarily defeated and wait for a better time rather than generate divisions and conflict that do no good," he said to applause. Live the path of communion and unity in the parish "with lots of goodness, cordiality and sometimes the ability to sacrifice something of oneself, too," Msgr. Marini advised. Just like the grain of wheat, he said, "sometimes all of us must die in something" knowing that it will bear future fruit. Msgr. Marini responded to the question after delivering a 50-minute speech, in which he received a standing ovation. Titled, "The Role of the Choir in Liturgical Celebrations," the monsignor outlined five fundamental elements of the liturgy and how choirs should help serve each of those aspects. The liturgy is the work of Christ and it should express the Savior's living presence, he said. Choir members, therefore, must be people who have Christ present in their hearts. While much care must be given to the artistic and technical aspects of liturgical music's performance, the hearts of those who perform must be cared for as well so that they are men and women of faith who feel "a burning love for Christ" and find their life's meaning in him, he said. The liturgy also must evoke the church's universality, where there is a harmonious union of diversity and continuity between tradition and newness, he said. This means that the choir must never be "front and center" or seem separate from the faithful because they are part of the assembly. Pope Francis has insisted that liturgical music for papal liturgies "never go beyond the rite" and force celebrants and the assembly to wait for the singing to finish before proceeding on to the next moment of the Mass, he said. "Song integrates itself into the rite," serving the ceremony and not itself. He also asked that choirs help the liturgy in its purpose of gathering everyone together to conform themselves more closely to God and his will. The Mass is about overcoming individual distinctions so that "it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me," he said. That means the choir should help everyone in the assembly be an active participant during the moments of song including by stirring people's emotional or spiritual feelings. Choirs must help the liturgy by inviting all of creation to lift its gaze toward God on high, he said. People should feel elevated and pulled out of the mundanity of the ordinary and everyday -- not to escape from it, but so as to return renewed to one's everyday life after Mass. If song is not "a bridge over eternity" then it is not doing its job, he said. Song must not be worldly and unworthy, but must in some way be the "song of angels." Lastly, he said, choirs must be missionary like the church and the liturgy by way of attraction, which it does by revealing God's beauty, wonder and infinite mercy.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Junno Arocho EstevesCASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Pope Francis is throwing open the doors to the papal apartment -- including the bedroom where popes have slept -- in the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo. The palace was for centuries the summer residence of the Roman pontiffs, but Pope Francis has decided not to use it. Instead in 2014, he opened the palace gardens to the public and last year opened a portion of the Apostolic Palace as a portrait gallery. Pope Francis "wanted this place -- so rich in history and so significant -- to be a gift for the people," Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, said Oct. 20 at the grand opening of the papal apartment. "Whoever passes through the gate of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo will find pure beauty," Paolucci said. Among the rooms open now to the public are the Room of the Throne, the Consistory Room, the pope's bedroom and private study. Unlike his predecessors, Pope Francis spends his summers in Rome rather than at the peaceful residence 20 miles away in the cooler hills. However, Sandro Barbagallo, curator of historical collections at the Vatican Museums, said that the "non-presence of the pope fits perfectly within the palace's history." "Thirty-three popes have reigned since the Apostolic Palace was first acquired. Of those 33 popes, only 15 have actually resided here at Castel Gandolfo," he noted. To celebrate the papal apartment's grand opening to the public and its historical significance, artists from the Guangzhou Opera House in Beijing performed a short concert titled, "Beauty unites us." Playing both classical and traditional instruments, the eight female artists filled the palace courtyard with the sounds of China while famed calligrapher, Cui Zimo, painted an artistic representation in honor of the Year of Mercy titled "Anima Mundi" ("The Soul of the World"). Zimo said his artwork, as well as the presence of the musicians from the Guangzhou Opera House, was "an artistic contribution to the pope's Year of Mercy," and he hoped that it would be "a new start to the relationship between China and the Vatican." The artwork, he said, was inspired by Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam," in which God is depicted reaching his finger toward Adam, "yet their fingers are barely touching." Zimo said he suddenly realized "what those hands mean" when he had a chance to meet Pope Francis and shake his hand. "It is love that allows those hands to be together and that small distance (between them) can disappear," he said. "This merciful love not only means the coming together of two persons but also (the coming together of) different peoples and different nations,"Zimo said. Visitors can purchase tickets to the Apostolic Palace and the papal apartment in Castel Gandolfo through the Vatican Museums' website (www.museivaticani.va). - - - Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • By Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In its ministry to young people, and especially in vocations promotion work, church workers must step out of the sacristy and take seriously the questions and concerns of the young, Pope Francis said. Young people are searching for meaning, and the best response is to go out to where they are, stop and listen to them and then call them to follow Jesus, the pope said Oct. 21. Meeting participants at a vocations promotion conference sponsored by the Congregation for Clergy, Pope Francis emphasized the need for church workers to be on the move and to echo the vocations call Jesus used with the disciples, "Follow me." "Jesus' desire is to set people out on a journey, moving them from a lethal sedentary lifestyle and breaking through the illusion that they can live happily while remaining comfortably seated amid their certainties," Pope Francis said. The seeking and desire to explore that comes naturally to most young people "is the treasure that the Lord puts in our hands and that we must care for, cultivate and make blossom," the pope said. Care is key, he said. It requires an ability for "discernment, which accompanies the person without ever taking over his or her conscience or pretending to control the grace of God." Vocations promotion, which is the responsibility of every Catholic, the pope said, must follow the same steps Jesus used when interacting with people. "Jesus stopped and met the gaze of the other, without rushing," he said. "This is what makes his call attractive and fascinating." Jesus did not stay in "the secure fortress of the rectory," the pope said, but set out into the cities and villages, pausing to listen to the people he came across, "taking in the desire of those who sought him out, the delusion of a failed night of fishing, the burning thirst of a woman who went to the well to get water or the strong need to change one's life." "In the same way, instead of reducing faith to a book of recipes or a collection of norms to observe, we can help young people ask the right questions, set out on their journey and discover the joy of the Gospel," he said. Every pastor and, particularly, everyone involved with helping young Catholics discern their vocations, he said, must have a pastoral style that is "attentive, not rushed, able to stop and decipher in depth, to enter into the life of the other without making him or her ever feel threatened or judged." Pope Francis told conference participants that he has never liked speaking about vocations ministry as an office in the diocesan chancery or headquarters of a religious order. It's not an office or a project because it is all about helping someone meet the Lord and answer the Lord's call. "Learn from the style of Jesus, who went to the places of daily life, stopped without rushing and, looking upon his brothers and sisters with mercy, led them to an encounter with God the father," the pope said. While looking at the young with mercy, vocations directors and bishops also must evaluate candidates for the priesthood with "caution (and) without lightness or superficiality," he said. "Especially to my brother bishops, I say: Vigilance and prudence. The church and the world need mature and balanced priests, pastors who are intrepid and generous, capable of closeness, listening and mercy." Vocations promotion work can be frustrating and discouraging at times, Pope Francis said, "but if we don't close ourselves up in whining and we keep going out to proclaim the Gospel, the Lord will stay with us and give us the courage to cast the nets again even when we are tired and disappointed at having caught nothing."- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.