Browsing News Entries

Group of religious sisters surprised to be walking the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage 

Four religious sisters of the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Healing Love joined “EWTN News In Depth” on May 24, 2024, to discuss their experience thus far on the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage. / Credit: EWTN News In Depth/Screenshot

CNA Staff, Jun 9, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage is beginning its third week, bringing Catholics from across the United States together through Eucharistic processions across the country. 

One special group who joined the pilgrims on the Elizabeth Ann Seton Route, the route that began in the Northeast, is made up of four religious sisters from the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Healing Love.

The group of sisters joined “EWTN News In Depth” on May 24 to share how they became involved in the pilgrimage and their experience so far.

When the Eucharistic Revival first began, the sisters were asked by their bishop to be the point people for the diocese. They went on to organize the diocesan Eucharistic Revival and during this past year have been giving parish retreats on the Eucharist every second Saturday of the month. 

Mother Mary Maximilian of the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Healing Love told “EWTN News In Depth” host and EWTN News President and COO Montse Alvarado that being a part of the Eucharistic Revival has been “such a blessing for our community.”

After the sisters heard about the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, they immediately felt drawn to participate as “Perpetual Pilgrims” — individuals selected to walk the pilgrimage together for the entire route. However, after reaching out to the National Eucharistic Congress they were told this was only for youth.

“We accepted that,” Sister Maximilian said. “As much as my heart is 18, my body is not.”

Then, Father Roger Landry — who is leading the Elizabeth Ann Seton Route — gave a Lenten mission at the sisters’ parish and had dinner with some of the sisters. Sister Maximilian explained that Landry brought up the pilgrimage and the sisters shared their desire to take part. He said he would welcome the community of sisters to join them but the following morning explained that they would need to have their own support vehicle. Two hours later, the sisters received a donation to help pay for walking shoes, and at 3 p.m. the same day they received a truck, trailer, and driver.

The sisters are now sleeping in a 30-foot Airstream camper trailer as they travel the Seton Route through many states on their way to Indianapolis, the final destination where all four pilgrimage routes will converge at the Eucharistic Congress taking place July 17–21.

“Camper life is a very interesting experience,” Sister Maximilian said jokingly. She shared that the entire experience has been “extraordinary — the outpouring of love that every faith community that we went to had to welcome the Lord Jesus.”

The Haitian community is one that especially stood out to the sisters during their many stops on the pilgrimage. Sister Maximilian described that instead of making the sign of the cross during Benediction, the Haitians they met opened their arms “to receive the blessing of the Lord.” 

The religious sister also praised the Perpetual Pilgrims and how they’ve come together as a team so quickly.

“They’ve come together so beautifully, and they all jump out of the van just before Jesus comes and they kneel down so everybody knows that the king is coming,” she said, adding: “And they’re leading praise and worship during all the walks and carrying heavy speakers, and it’s just beautiful to watch them.”

For Sister Maximilian, the experience thus far has been “an amazing opportunity to express gratitude for the love that the Lord wants to pour out.”

“He wants to walk through this nation. He wants to bless his people. He wants to heal his people. He says, ‘When I am lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.’ He wants to draw them to himself and we’re watching that happen.”

So far, the sisters have journeyed through Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. On June 8 they were in Washington, D.C.  

The entire segment of the “EWTN News In Depth” interview with the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Healing Love about the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage can be viewed below.

‘Jesus Thirsts’ film becomes second highest-grossing documentary of 2024 so far

Due to popular demand, "Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist" will be shown in theaters again June 18-19, 2024. / Credit: Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist

CNA Staff, Jun 8, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

The new film “Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist” scored big at the box office, grossing $2,141,273 and landing at the No. 1 spot in per screen average for all three days of its initial release. 

According to Fathom Events, the film’s distributor, the movie is Fathom’s highest-grossing documentary of 2024 and is currently in second place among all documentaries released in 2024 so far. In response to popular demand, it will return to theaters nationwide on June 18–19.

The feature-length documentary by executive producer Deacon Steve Greco and producers Tim Moriarty and James Wahlberg was shown in theaters nationwide June 4–6.

Through dialogue with notable Catholic figures, the documentary takes viewers on a journey to rediscover the transformative power of the Eucharist by exploring the biblical origins of the Eucharist and sharing personal stories from those whose lives have been impacted by the Blessed Sacrament.

“My greatest hope for this film has been and continues to be winning souls for Jesus Christ,” Greco said in a press release. “I’m incredibly grateful to the moviegoers for showing up! Now, we need to show up again and with others. To those who have experienced the power of this movie, I implore you to be a Eucharistic evangelist for our film as we encore with added dates June 18 and 19.”

“The last three days have revealed the profound impact of our movie and now we have to get outside of the pew and lead our fallen-away brothers and sisters home,” Wahlberg said in the press release.

He added: “The feedback has been incredible — we have heard about packed theaters, minds, and hearts deeply moved, and an urgency to tell others. The surge of posts on social media have moved like wildfire and we hope this leads to many who will become curious.”

Moriarty, writer and director of the film and founder of the production company Castletown Media, said in a press release: “Our team at Castletown Media has been profoundly moved by the overwhelming responses to ‘Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist.’”

“Viewers, often with tears in their eyes, have rediscovered a beauty in their faith that they had perhaps only glimpsed before. Many fallen-away Catholics and those outside the Church have shared how the film illuminated for them the very heart of Catholicism,” he said.

“Let this film be a clarion call to all Catholics: the time for being ashamed of our faith has ended,” he added. “Now is the moment to rediscover the boundless love of God, who meets us in the humble guise of bread and wine, and to share this love with a world in desperate need.”

On May 7, Moriarty spoke with CNA at the premiere of the film in Orange County and shared that when he was first approached with the idea he believed it was “the perfect film for our times.”

“We are in a time in our Church where we need to get back to fundamentals,” he said. “We need to get back to what is at the heart of our faith, which is the ongoing incarnation of Christ in the Eucharist.”

Moriarty shared that despite being raised Catholic, there was a period in his life where he fell away from the faith and it was the Eucharist that brought him back.

“It’s the greatest gift in the world,” he said. “It’s Jesus himself and there is nothing on Earth that can satisfy that deepest longing in us.”

Pilgrims ‘in awe’ as over 1,000 arrive in tiny Maryland town for National Eucharistic Pilgrimage

Many people were struck by the number of people who took part in the Eucharistic procession in Emmitsburg, Maryland, on June 6, 2024. / Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Washington D.C., Jun 8, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

The tiny town of Emmitsburg, Maryland, (population 3,629) grew by approximately 50% on Thursday, June 6, when a crowd of as many as 1,500 Catholics joined two Eucharistic processions through its normally sleepy streets.

Emmitsburg is home to the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American-born saint. Rob Judge, the shrine’s executive director, said it was likely the largest gathering in the town since Mother Seton’s canonization in 1975.

“To see people flowing in and adoring Our Lord and just using this space to have an encounter with him is — it’s humbling for all of us that are here every day,” Judge said.

Over a thousand people follow the procession on June 6, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Over a thousand people follow the procession on June 6, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

The processions through Emmitsburg and to neighboring Mount St. Mary’s University and Seminary are part of the broader National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, which itself is an initiative of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival — an effort to help foster a greater understanding and devotion to the mystery of Jesus in the Eucharist.

The pilgrimage kicked off on Pentecost in four routes launched from the East and West coasts and the northern and southern borders of the nation. Nearly every day for two months, the faithful across the country are joining Jesus in the Eucharist as he makes his way through their towns and cities. The four routes converge in Indianapolis on July 16 for the National Eucharistic Congress

The Seton Route, which began in New Haven, Connecticut, and processed through Emmitsburg Thursday is named after the saint who is honored at the shrine. Zoe Dongas, who is one of the “Perpetual Pilgrims” traveling the entirety of the route, expressed admiration for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton during the events at the shrine. 

The "Perpetual Pilgrims" on the Seton Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage kneel at Mass on June 6, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
The "Perpetual Pilgrims" on the Seton Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage kneel at Mass on June 6, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

“I’m personally really inspired by how Mother Seton, in her conversion and in her love for the Eucharist, was willing to stake everything on Jesus and the Eucharist and she was willing to accept the social issues that would come with that,” Dongas said. 

Father Roger Landry, chaplain of the Seton Route, said at the shrine that, despite the constant processions, “only four of us have gotten any blisters whatsoever.” Landry is accompanied by six “Perpetual Pilgrims,” who are accompanying Jesus in the Eucharist for the entire route. 

He added that “beyond the physical stamina that’s needed, there’s clearly a spiritual stamina.”

“As a priest, I make a retreat every year … [but] that’s different than having the Lord Jesus two inches from your nose for half [of] your day,” Landry continued. “And so building up that spiritual stamina so that you do not take the awesome gift for granted by overexposure is something that we likewise need to work on.”

According to the priest, experiencing the history of the Church and the beautiful basilicas, along with the large number of people joining the processions, has been an “overwhelmingly exhilarating” experience throughout the pilgrimage. 

“That is a greater source of fuel than the fuel we’re expending step by step,” Landry said.

Archbishop William Lori celebrates Mass at the basilica at the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland, on June 6, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Archbishop William Lori celebrates Mass at the basilica at the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland, on June 6, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

After a morning Mass at the Basilica of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori led the procession outside, holding the monstrance aloft as priests, seminarians, and the faithful followed. At Mother Seton Catholic School — an all-girls elementary school started by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton herself in 1810 — the procession was met by a group of school children.

A young girl receives the Blessed Host at the Basilica of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton on June 6, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
A young girl receives the Blessed Host at the Basilica of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton on June 6, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

The children sang “This Little Light of Mine” and other songs as the Eucharist was displayed for adoration. The 1.4-mile-long procession resumed, stopping to pray at two Catholic cemeteries: one behind the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church on DePaul Street and the other beside the shrine.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore holds the monstrance at the head of the procession. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore holds the monstrance at the head of the procession. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
The priests prepare the Eucharist for adoration on the school's blacktop. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
The priests prepare the Eucharist for adoration on the school's blacktop. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
The procession stops at Mother Seton Catholic School in Emmitsburg, Maryland, on June 6, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
The procession stops at Mother Seton Catholic School in Emmitsburg, Maryland, on June 6, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Franciscan Friars of the Renewal hold the processional canopy as the pilgrimage continues. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Franciscan Friars of the Renewal hold the processional canopy as the pilgrimage continues. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Processioners prayed and sang hymns, which were guided by organizers using a van with a loudspeaker to lead attendees in the prayers and the songs. At the stops, many participants — among them young adults, families with children, and several elderly attendees — knelt in the grass or in the street to adore the Eucharist held in a monstrance, which was placed on an altar set up for the procession.

A woman kneels as the Eucharistic procession passes by. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
A woman kneels as the Eucharistic procession passes by. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Daughters of Mary Mother of Healing Love take in the Eucharistic procession. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Daughters of Mary Mother of Healing Love take in the Eucharistic procession. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

The Frederick County Sheriff's Office temporarily blocked off the roads along the procession routes, which led to a short-term backup of cars along Main Street.Monsignor Andrew Baker, the rector of the nearby Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, said he was “in awe of the number of people that came out to adore [Christ], to be with him, to praise him.” 

“I don’t think Emmitsburg has seen anything like this,” Baker added. “... I did my best to turn around and try to see the crowd and I couldn’t see the end of it.”

The procession stops to pray at a cemetery in Emmitsburg, Maryland, on June 6, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
The procession stops to pray at a cemetery in Emmitsburg, Maryland, on June 6, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

The afternoon procession, starting at 1:30 p.m., was a longer — and more arduous — trek from the Seton Shrine to the National Shrine Grotto of ​Our Lady of Lourdes. Still, several hundred people stuck around for the 3.5-mile uphill journey, which Mother Seton and the other religious sisters at the Sisters of Charity would take in the early 1800s to attend Mass on St. Mary’s Mountain.

The pilgrims and processioners marched down South Seton Avenue, turned onto Old Emmitsburg Road, which runs parallel to U.S. Route 15, and through the campus of Mount St. Mary’s University and Seminary to get to the grotto. The route from the Seton Shrine to the grotto has an elevation gain of about 750 feet. As the path became steeper toward the end of the journey, the procession began to slow down before reaching the grotto sanctuary. 

The procession travelled up the hill to Mount Saint Mary's University and Seminary — the same route that Mother Seton took to go to Mass. Credit: Tyler Arnold/CNA
The procession travelled up the hill to Mount Saint Mary's University and Seminary — the same route that Mother Seton took to go to Mass. Credit: Tyler Arnold/CNA

During the procession to the grotto, attendees sang hymns, prayed the luminous mysteries of the rosary, and — as the marchers began to slow down amid their ascent at the steepest part of the procession — prayed the Litany of the Passion of Christ. 

“Jesus, fastened with nails to the cross, have mercy on us,” the prayer says in part. “Jesus, wounded for our iniquities, have mercy on us. Jesus, praying for your murderers, have mercy on us.”

The faithful kneel in adoration of the Eucharist at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Credit: Tyler Arnold
The faithful kneel in adoration of the Eucharist at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Credit: Tyler Arnold

The priests celebrated Benediction in the grotto shrine. The sanctuary honors Our Lady of Lourdes with a replica of the grotto that was the site of Marian apparitions in Lourdes, France, in 1858. There are also numerous statues of the Virgin Mary and other saints, along with artwork for the stations of the cross and the mysteries of the rosary.

Although Emmitsburg is not near any major population area, many people traveled from within Maryland as well as Pennsylvania and Virginia to take part in the processions. One attendee from Maryland, Lora McMunn, told CNA the procession was “incredible” and it was great to see families, young people, and “old people” all together for the processions.

“It’s important that people get together with other people who share the faith and that we present ourselves to the world as Catholics … and show [people] that this is what [we] believe,” McMunn said.

The procession travelled 1.4 miles from the basilica at the Seton shrine. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
The procession travelled 1.4 miles from the basilica at the Seton shrine. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Elizabeth Ann Seton was born into a prominent Episcopalian family in New York City in 1774 but converted to Catholicism in 1805, two years after her husband’s death. She had five children with her husband. The future saint moved to Maryland because of the state’s strong Catholic presence and because of the social stigma she faced in New York from her Episcopalian friends and family following her conversion.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton entered into religious life and founded the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph in Emmitsburg, Maryland — the first community for religious women to begin in the United States. She also founded the first free Catholic school for girls. She is the first Catholic saint born in what became the United States of America.

One of the driving forces of Mother Seton’s conversion was her recognition of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist — which she began to notice upon seeing the strong Catholic devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

The shrine to Mother Seton has a basilica, which holds about 850 people, and a newly opened museum, which contains artifacts and personal writings from the saint. There are also historic buildings near the shrine.

The Seton Route dipped south to Baltimore and will make its way to the next procession in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, June 8. Following the procession in the nation’s capital, the pilgrimage will move into southwest Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, before heading further west into Ohio and its final destination in Indiana.

Atlanta archbishop to head National Catholic Educational Association board

Bishop Gregory Hartmayer, archbishop-elect of Atlanta. CNA file photo. / null

CNA Staff, Jun 7, 2024 / 17:45 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer of Atlanta was elected chairman of the board of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) for a three-year term earlier this week, the organization announced on Thursday. 

The largest, private professional education association in the world, the NCEA works with nearly 140,000 Catholic educators to serve 1.6 million students in Catholic education. The organization provides annual data on Catholic schools in the U.S. as well as professional development and public policy resources to support intellectual and faith formation.  

“We want to be a continual resource for superintendents, principals, and faculties of Catholic schools as they continue to create Catholic leaders of tomorrow,” Hartmayer told CNA.

Hartmayer has worked in Catholic education for upwards of 10 years during his 44 years of priesthood and now serves on the board of trustees at two seminaries: St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida, and St. John Vianney College and Seminary in Miami.

Hartmayer holds three master’s degrees: a master of divinity degree from St. Anthony-on-Hudson in Rensselaer, New York; a master of arts degree in pastoral counseling from Emmanuel College, Boston; and a master of education degree from Boston College — in addition to a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from St. Hyacinth College and Seminary in Massachusetts. 

A member of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, a religious community founded by St. Francis of Assisi, Hartmayer has served Atlanta as archbishop since May 2020, following his service as bishop of Savannah, Georgia, from 2011. 

Hartmayer has worked in Catholic education since the start of his priesthood. He served as a guidance counselor and then principal at Archbishop Curley High School in Baltimore from 1985–1987. In 1988, he was appointed principal at Cardinal O’Hara in Tonawanda, New York, and then served as principal of St. Francis High School in Hamburg, New York, until 1994.

He spent many years in New York and Massachusetts, but in 1995, he moved south to teach at a Catholic high school in Florida before being asked to serve as pastor of St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro, Georgia, where he served for 15 years as a pastor.

Hartmayer is currently the chairman of the USCCB subcommittee for communications and a member of the board for CLINIC. He made headlines earlier this year for advocating on behalf of an intellectually disabled Georgia man condemned to death.

16 men to be ordained to the priesthood in Washington, DC

null / Credit: Vatican Media

CNA Staff, Jun 7, 2024 / 17:15 pm (CNA).

The Archdiocese of Washington is set to ordain 16 men to the priesthood later this month, an increase of 10 compared with 2023. 

According to the archdiocese, the Mass of Ordination will take place June 15 at 10 a.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Mass will be livestreamed on the archdiocesan YouTube channel.

The ordinands this year include a former ER doctor, several who served in the armed forces, and a former D.C. police officer. Last year six men were ordained, according to the Catholic Standard. 

Local parishes throughout Maryland and D.C. are hosting Holy Hours in the weeks prior to the 2024 ordination, and Catholics are invited to pray before the Blessed Sacrament for the men who will become priests. 

In 2022, 10 men were ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Washington, and in 2021 just one man was.

UPDATE: ‘Beloved, historic’ Chicago parish gets key protection vote from city preservation board

St. Adalbert Parish sits in the Pilsen neighborhood on the Lower West Side of Chicago in June 2018. / Credit: Julię Sawicki/YouTube

CNA Staff, Jun 7, 2024 / 15:45 pm (CNA).

A more-than-century-old Catholic parish in Chicago is one step closer to gaining protection status from the city government, putting what one advocate calls the “beloved, historic, and exquisite house of worship” on track to historical preservation.

The Society of St. Adalbert, a group dedicated to preserving the St. Adalbert Parish in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood on the Lower West Side, said in a Facebook post on Friday that the Chicago Landmark Commission in its Thursday meeting “voted unanimously to landmark all four buildings on the St. Adalbert site.”

The landmark commission says on its website that it is “responsible for recommending buildings, sites, objects, and districts for legal protection as official Chicago landmarks.” The nine-person board meets monthly.

The parish community dates to 1874 and has served Polish immigrants and their descendants as well as the Mexican-American community more recently. The present soaring Gothic cathedral-style structure — designed by noted Chicago architect Henry Schlacks — was completed in 1914.

The St. Adalbert group said on Friday there are “still two more steps” before the parish can receive official protected status. The city zoning committee must give its approval to the proposal, after which the full 50-alderman city council will vote on the designation.

The full city council vote could be as early as Wednesday, June 12.

‘A battle to save St. Adalbert’s’

Julie Sawicki, one of the board members of the Society of St. Adalbert, told CNA on Friday that the vote was “the first major step to protect our beloved, historic, and exquisite house of worship for future generations of Catholics.”

“It has taken us five years to get to this point and we know that God is holding our hand,” she said.

In 2016 the Archdiocese of Chicago announced that due to “the dangerous state of repair and prohibitive costs of repair and maintenance,” the parish would be “reduced to uses other than divine worship.” Among the necessary repairs was a $3 million structural restoration of the parish’s two towers, the archdiocese said.

In 2019 the archdiocese announced that the building was “relegated to profane but not sordid use,” meaning the parish would “no longer be a sacred space and may not be used for worship.” 

Sawicki said members of the parish have been fighting to preserve it for years. The parish society group in 2017 presented a plan to the archdiocese to save the parish, she said, including designating it a shrine as well as converting the property’s 52-room convent to a 40-room retreat house.

A rose window graces the top of St. Adalbert Parish in Chicago's Lower West Side, June 2018. Credit: Julię Sawicki/YouTube
A rose window graces the top of St. Adalbert Parish in Chicago's Lower West Side, June 2018. Credit: Julię Sawicki/YouTube

The archdiocese in September of that year offered the parish to the preservation group for free, Sawicki said. Yet after three months the deal was called off, she said, with the archdiocese allegedly saying it was planning to “market” the parish. 

The Archdiocese of Chicago in a statement to CNA disputed the claim that the parish was ever offered for free.

“That is not true and never was,” the statement said. “The St. Adalbert property was never offered for free. Despite collaborating with the St. Adalbert Preservation Society for several years, they were never able to come up with a realistic plan or viable funding source for the property’s acquisition, upkeep, or redevelopment.”

“In the last three years, they have expressed no further interest in purchasing the property,” the archdiocese said in its statement.

St. Adalbert Parish in Chicago is one step closer to historic preservation status after a vote by the Chicago Landmark Commission on June 6, 2024. Credit: Gregg Nagel
St. Adalbert Parish in Chicago is one step closer to historic preservation status after a vote by the Chicago Landmark Commission on June 6, 2024. Credit: Gregg Nagel

Sawicki told CNA that since the disputed deal fell through, advocates have been engaged in “a battle to save St. Adalbert's from demolition as well as any potential, non-Catholic uses.” 

“There have been four contracts for sale that have fallen apart” over that time, she said. “No doubt, the hand of God was also at work here.”

Sawicki said it was “disheartening” that Church leadership isn’t putting “thought and effort into figuring out creative solutions for our churches.”

She criticized the archdiocese’s ongoing “Renew My Church” plan, which has closed and merged dozens of parishes in order to address shrinking budgets and priest shortages.

“There are solutions for our unwanted churches,” she said. “Most people do not know what can be done to save a church and are often overwhelmed by the thought of going up against a powerful diocese.”

But “the St. Adalbert situation has emboldened us and we remain steadfast in our mission,” she said.

This story was updated on Saturday, June 8, at 7:30 a.m. with comments from the Archdiocese of Chicago regarding the sale of the parish to the Society of St. Adalbert.

Doctors urge U.S. medical groups to ‘immediately stop’ transgender treatments on children

Jill Simons, the executive director of the American College of Pediatricians (left) and Catholic Medical Association Executive Director Mario Dickerson (center) talk with “EWTN News Nightly” anchor Tracy Sabol on June 6, 2024. / Credit: “EWTN News Nightly”/YouTube

CNA Staff, Jun 7, 2024 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

Top medical groups and physicians have signed a “Doctors Protecting Children” declaration that expresses “serious concerns” about the treatment of minors who are uncomfortable with their biological sex, one advocate told EWTN News this week. 

Jill Simons, the executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, told “EWTN News Nightly” anchor Tracy Sabol on Thursday that the medical group has been “sounding the alarm” after the recently leaked files from the World Professional Association of Transgender Health in which transgender advocates admitted that children who receive permanently life-changing transgender procedures are too young to be capable of giving informed consent.  

Also raising alarm bells has been the release of England’s Cass Review, which found no  comprehensive evidence to support the routine prescription of transgender drugs to minors with gender dysphoria. 

Those revelations “had the overwhelming evidence that these so-called gender-affirming care treatments should not continue,” Simons said.

“We thought that our colleagues here in the U.S. would take heed and also do the same and put a pause, [but] they’ve continued,” Simons said. “We just came together as a coalition of medical doctors, organizations, and said, ‘Enough.’”

Eighteen health policy and medical organizations have co-signed the “Doctors Protecting Children” declaration, including the Catholic Medical Association (CMA), along with close to 100 doctors and health leaders. 

The declaration affirms that sex is an “innate trait” that “is not altered by drugs or surgical interventions.” It critiques gender ideology for not being based on “the reality of these innate sex differences,” and it further clarifies that medical decisions should “respect biological reality and the dignity of the person.” 

CMA executive director Mario Dickerson told Sabol on Thursday that his organization signed on to the declaration to protect children.

“At the heart of it is protecting children. That’s first and foremost,” he said. “There’s a study that [transgenderism] affects 1% of the children in the United States. [There are] 72 million children in the United States, so that’s 720,000 children … We’re really advocating for the children is the primary reason.”

Dickerson noted that 16% of hospitals in the U.S. are Catholic. 

“We would certainly encourage them to sign this declaration and reassure their patients that they are standing on the side of not doing any harm to their children and make a public statement,” he said.

“If the Catholic hospitals and health care systems were to sign on to this document, I think it would make a tremendous impact in health care in general in the United States.”

The physicians noted in the declaration that most gender confusion in adolescence “will resolve those mental incongruencies after experiencing the normal developmental process of puberty.”

“Responsible informed consent is not possible in light of extremely limited long-term follow-up studies of interventions, and the immature, often impulsive, nature of the adolescent brain,” the declaration said.

“The adolescent brain’s prefrontal cortex is immature and is limited in its ability to strategize, problem-solve, and make emotionally laden decisions that have lifelong consequences.”

The physicians also emphasized that there are “serious long-term risks associated with the use of social transition, puberty blockers, masculinizing or feminizing hormones, and surgeries, not the least of which is potential sterility.”

“Evidence-based medical research now demonstrates there is little to no benefit from any or all suggested ‘gender affirming’ interventions for adolescents experiencing gender dysphoria,” the declaration says.

The statement adds that the “first line of treatment” should instead be psychotherapy for underlying mental health issues including depression, anxiety, autism, and prior emotional trauma. 

When asked about what she hopes comes from the declaration, Simons told Sabol she’s “very optimistic.”

“I have faith in my colleagues, pediatricians and physicians around the country, that we’re going to do the right thing,” she said. 

“I think a lot of people either are afraid or are just not paying attention, and this declaration is to get the message out there loud and clear,” Simons said. “I remain very optimistic that this is going to turn around.”

Everything you need to know about devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

An image of the Sacred Heart in the Church of the Jesu in Rome. / Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 7, 2024 / 04:00 am (CNA).

The solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus falls on the Friday after the Corpus Christi octave, which in 2024 is on June 7. What exactly is the meaning behind this feast day? Below are answers to some common questions.

Why do Catholics venerate the Sacred Heart of Jesus?

“Devoting ourselves to the Sacred Heart is one of the easiest, fastest, and most pleasant ways to grow in holiness,” Father Ambrose Dobrozsi, a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, told CNA.

“Many saints have done many things to grow close to Jesus Christ, but no way is more sure and more pleasing to him than to consecrate ourselves to his Sacred Heart through the Immaculate Heart of his mother,” he added.

Where does devotion to the Sacred Heart come from?

The story behind the modern iteration of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, however, begins on Dec. 27, 1673, at a monastery belonging to the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary (Visitandines) in eastern France.

There, a nun named Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque began experiencing visions of the Sacred Heart. Those visions continued for 18 months.

During her visions, Sister Margaret Mary learned ways to venerate the Sacred Heart of Christ.

These devotions included the concept of a Holy Hour on Thursdays, the creation of the feast of the Sacred Heart after Corpus Christi, and the reception of the Eucharist on the first Friday of every month.

As with many mystics, many people were skeptical of Sister Margaret Mary’s claims of visions. Her confessor, the then-Father Claude La Colombière, SJ, (now St. Claude La Colombière) believed her, and eventually, the mother superior of her community began to believe as well.

The first feast of the Sacred Heart was celebrated privately at the monastery in 1686.

Sister Margaret Mary died in 1690 and was canonized by Pope Benedict XV on May 13, 1920.

Initially, the Vatican was hesitant to declare a feast of the Sacred Heart but did allow the Visitandines to celebrate a Mass special to this day. As the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus spread throughout France, the Vatican granted the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to France in 1765.

In 1856, after much lobbying by French bishops on behalf of the feast of the Sacred Heart, Pope Pius IX designated the Friday following the feast of Corpus Christi as the feast of the Sacred Heart for the entire Latin-rite Church.

On May 25, 1899, Pope Leo XIII promulgated the encyclical Annum Sacrum, which consecrated the entire world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This encyclical was written after a nun, Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, sent two letters to the pope requesting that he consecrate the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sister Mary of the Divine Heart wrote the letters, she said, after Jesus made the request to her. Pope Leo XIII called this encyclical and the subsequent consecration the “great act” of his papacy.

“Finally, there is one motive which we are unwilling to pass over in silence, personal to ourselves it is true, but still good and weighty, which moves us to undertake this celebration. God, the author of every good, not long ago preserved our life by curing us of a dangerous disease,” Leo XIII wrote.

“We now wish, by this increase of the honor paid to the Sacred Heart, that the memory of this great mercy should be brought prominently forward, and our gratitude be publicly acknowledged.”

But why consecrate the world — or anyone — to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? What does that mean?

Pope Leo XIII described the act of consecration as one that will “establish or draw tighter the bonds which naturally connect public affairs with God,” which was especially needed for the world at the turn of the century.
 
“While many see religion as unnecessary in a world with more and more technology and resources, swearing allegiance and consecrating ourselves to Christ the King in his Sacred Heart shows that humanity still needs and longs for a compassionate and all-powerful God,” Dobrozsi, the Cincinnati priest, told CNA.

“In a society where some live in decadence and prideful luxury while others are destitute, the burning love of Christ’s Sacred Heart reminds us that the fires of his mercy are also fires of justice. And when the culture, and so many of us, feel hopeless that we could ever change after falling to sins of the flesh, the heart of Our Lord beats with powerful love, eternally declaring that true charity has triumphed over sin and death,” he added.

These are the promises the Sacred Heart of Jesus made to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will give peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.
5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
9. I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.
10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.
12. In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the first Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: They will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

This article was originally published on CNA on June 19, 2020, and was updated June 6, 2024.

Oklahoma judge says lawsuit over nation’s first Catholic charter school can proceed

null / Credit: mangpor2004/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jun 6, 2024 / 17:52 pm (CNA).

An Oklahoma judge this week said a lawsuit challenging the nation’s first religious charter school can proceed, a victory for opponents wishing to halt public funding of the Catholic institution.

Oklahoma County District Judge Richard Ogden will allow the lawsuit against the Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board to move forward almost in its entirety, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) said in a press release.

In October 2023, the state board approved the charter contract for St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School, putting the school on the path to becoming the first religiously affiliated charter school in the United States.

A charter school is a privately managed institution that receives public funding like standard public schools. The plaintiffs in the Oklahoma lawsuit — who are being represented by AU, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ​​Freedom From Religion Foundation — contend that the state’s funding of a religious school violates both Oklahoma statutory and constitutional law.

In the ruling this week, the judge allowed nearly all of the plaintiff’s claims against the school to proceed, tossing out only one claim against the school alleging that it had failed to pledge to follow nondiscrimination rules.

Ogden’s decision was “not making any type of ruling regarding substantive arguments” in the case, the judge said in issuing the order.

The next hearing for the case is scheduled for July 24. The suit is ultimately aimed at “preventing St. Isidore from receiving state funds or operating as a public charter school,” AU said in its release.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court earlier this year heard a separate case against the school, this one filed by Oklahoma Republican Attorney General Gentner Drummond, who also opposes granting the school access to taxpayer dollars.

Drummond argued in his suit that funding the school with public money would result in “harm to religious liberty,” one that would set a precedent that could require the state to fund a “public charter school teaching Sharia Law.”

The Catholic school did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling on Thursday.

The prelates currently leading Oklahoma’s two dioceses — Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley and Tulsa Bishop David Konderla — serve as the school’s two corporate members.

The school advertises itself as a “full time, K–12, tuition-free, online Catholic charter school in the state of Oklahoma.” Its first day of school is scheduled for Aug. 12.

National Eucharistic Pilgrims ‘relying on God’s grace’ as they carry Jesus hundreds of miles

A man kneels as the National Eucharistic Procession passes by in Philadelphia on May 30, 2024. / Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

CNA Staff, Jun 6, 2024 / 17:22 pm (CNA).

Amid a 17-mile walk through the muggy city streets of New Jersey, Dominic Carstens was understandably tired and a little cranky by his own admission. But then he looked up at the golden monstrance the group was carrying, containing the Eucharist, and his outlook changed.

Remembering Jesus’ painful trudge to his death on Calvary, “my attitude on what I was doing completely changed,” Carstens, a college student who is walking the eastern Seton Route, said during a June 5 press conference.

“It was a wonderful reminder, with Jesus being present, of what Jesus did for us.”

Perpetual Pilgrim, Dominic Carstens, speaks to school children about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist at St. Mary of the Pines Church, Manahawkin, New Jersey, May 29, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
Perpetual Pilgrim, Dominic Carstens, speaks to school children about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist at St. Mary of the Pines Church, Manahawkin, New Jersey, May 29, 2024. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Carstens is one of the Perpetual Pilgrims accompanying Jesus in the Eucharist for the entire route. Collectively, the young pilgrims — whose ranks have recently swelled to 30 with the addition of several seminarians — will walk more than 6,500 miles over four routes as part of the ongoing National Eucharistic Pilgrimage

Since the start of the pilgrimages in mid-May, the pilgrims have invited thousands of people, young and old, to join along the way as a public witness to the Church’s teaching that the Eucharist is truly the body of Jesus Christ. The four pilgrimage groups will meet in Indianapolis for the National Eucharistic Congress July 17–21. 

As of June 6, the western Serra Route is entering the Denver area; the northern Marian Route caravan will soon exit Minnesota and enter Wisconsin; the Seton Route is nearly to Baltimore; and the southern Juan Diego Route is approaching New Orleans.

Pilgrims who relayed their experiences so far during the June 5 press conference spoke about how they have seen Christ’s presence in the Eucharist affect those who see them pass by. 

null

Carstens recounted how the Seton Route passed through Kensington, an area in Philadelphia known for high prevalence of drug use. During this section, local high school youth helped out the procession by carrying items like candles and canopies, he said, and this and other challenging sections of the route have had the participants “very much relying on God’s grace.” He also said it has been powerful for him to realize that Jesus is “chasing down” so many people who have encountered the pilgrimages directly in the places where they live.

“We got to bring Jesus to the poor, where he really likes to be,” Carstens said. “Christ always loved being with the poor.”

The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage passes through Philadelphia. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno
The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage passes through Philadelphia. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno

Mason Bailey and Blase Gebes, both seminarians and walkers of the Marian Route, said the experience of seeing “people flocking to Jesus” so far has “enlivened” their vocations and given them ample stories and experiences to use in future homilies if God continues to call them to the priesthood. 

“Little things like that can really go a long way in getting men to start thinking about the priesthood again,” Bailey said, commenting on the involvement of many young men from youth groups along the routes.

“There can’t be a Eucharistic revival without also a revival of the priesthood. I think we’re going to see the fruits for years to come.”

Shayla Elm, a Juan Diego Route pilgrim, spoke about the many instances of “childlike” faith she has witnessed. A toddler at one parish kissed her own hand and touched the monstrance when she learned that it was Jesus, Elm recounted. She also said one woman they encountered claims she has been healed of a knee affliction after taking part in the pilgrimage.  

Catholics throughout the U.S. are encouraged to register to join the pilgrims in walking short sections of the pilgrimages and joining in numerous other special events put on by their local dioceses.

To read much more ongoing coverage about the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage and National Eucharistic Congress, visit the National Catholic Register.