U.S. Church News

Auto executive Iacocca recalled for love of family during funeral Mass

By Catholic News Service

CNS photo/John Hillery, pool via Reuters

Former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca, who became a folk hero for rescuing the company in the '80s, died July 2, 2019, at his his home in Bel Air, Calif. The funeral Mass for the longtime 94-year-old auto executive was celebrated July 10 at St. Hugo of the Hills Church in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. He is pictured in a 1991 photo. (CNS photo/John Hillery, pool via Reuters)

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (CNS) -- Though he achieved fame as an automobile executive and leader of a private initiative to renovate the Statue of Liberty, Lee Iacocca valued family above all else in life, said a priest who eulogized him during his funeral Mass July 10.

"For decades, Lee's feet and hands moved mountains," Msgr. Howard Lincoln told mourners who gathered for the Mass at St. Hugo of the Hills Church in suburban Detroit, where Iacocca was a member before retiring to California. "Lee always seemed to me to never really be down. Somehow, even at the darkest hours, I think he knew somehow even Chrysler would work out."

Msgr. Lincoln, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Palm Desert, California, Iacocca's parish in his retirement years, said the business leader "knew that this life was his once in a lifetime opportunity and he wanted his life to matter."

"He was an elevating influence for our parish. I think he saw the importance of being kind and courteous to everybody. ... 'Yes,' he said, 'I've had a wonderful and successful career but next to my family, it doesn't matter at all," Msgr. Lincoln recalled.

Msgr. Anthony Tocco, pastor of St. Hugo of the Hills, presided at the funeral Mass.

Iacocca died July 2 at his home in Bel Air, California, at age 94 of complications from Parkinson's disease.

He was born Lido Anthony Iacocca Oct. 15, 1924, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to Italian immigrants. The family operated a small hot-dog eatery, which later became a popular chain of restaurants now known as Yocco's, a distortion of the family name. The family eventually expanded into real estate and other business interests.

His parents immigrated through Ellis Island from Italy. His father, Nicola, arrived in 1902 and his mother, Antoinette, in 1921.

During the 1980s at the height of his business career, Iacocca became one of the most widely known business leaders in the world. He was in global demand as a speaker and was eagerly sought after for television interviews because of his outspokenness and ability to command a conversation. His 1984 autobiography became an international best-seller.

His commitment to the Catholic Church was evident when he and Thomas Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza, headed a fund that raised more than $720,000 to help the Archdiocese of Detroit defray the cost of $2.4 million to host St. John Paul II's 23-hour visit in September 1987.

Iacocca's ascendance as an automobile executive began when he joined the Ford Motor Co. in 1946 after completing a master's degree in mechanical engineering at Princeton University. A year earlier he completed a bachelor's degree in engineering at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, finishing coursework in eight semesters without taking summers off, graduating with honors.

He decided to enter engineering school after being rejected and classified 4F by the Army Air Force because he had rheumatic fever a couple of years earlier in high school.

Soon after joining Ford he decided he wanted to enter marketing and sales and quickly rose through the ranks of the company. By age 36, he was named vice president of truck sales for Ford Division. He became president of Ford Division in 1970.

Perhaps his most significant accomplishment for the company was the development of the sporty Mustang line of automobiles.

However, in 1978, Henry Ford II fired Iacocca for "personal" reasons. Chrysler Corp. quickly snapped up the in-demand executive. Iacocca then guided the flailing company through a difficult bankruptcy with the assistance of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal government loans, which the company paid back in full by mid-1983.

At Chrysler, he helped guide the development of the minivan.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan asked Iacocca to lead a multimillion-dollar private campaign to renovate the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in time for the statue's centennial in 1986. He accepted, saying it would be a tribute to his parents.

Iacocca's life was jolted when Mary, his wife of 26 years, died May 15, 1983 of complications from diabetes. He called her the anchor of his private life and described her death as the "greatest personal sadness of my life."

The couple had two daughters, Kathi and Lia.

Even before Mary Iacocca died, Iacocca advocated for better medical treatment for type 1 diabetes patients, who often face debilitating and fatal complications. He continued his advocacy after her death.

Iacocca had a second marriage annulled in 1987 and was divorced from his third wife in 1994. He was buried in Troy, Michigan.

Bishop Christian dies; recalled as 'wonderful' bishop, 'spiritual guide'

By The Catholic Voice Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Archdiocese of San Francisco

Auxiliary Bishop Robert F. Christian of San Francisco is pictured in this undated photo. He died in his sleep July 11 at his residence at St. Patrick Seminary and University in Menlo Park, Calif., where he was rector-president. He was 70. (CNS photo/Archdiocese of San Francisco) See OBIT-CHRISTIAN July 12, 2019.

OAKLAND, Calif. (CNS) -- San Francisco Auxiliary Bishop Robert F. Christian, rector-president of St. Patrick Seminary and University in Menlo Park, died in his sleep July 11. He was 70.

He was ordained a bishop June 5, 2018, and was appointed to lead the seminary in January.

Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.

"Please join me and remember in your prayers the repose of the soul of the Most Rev. Robert Christian. ... May he rest in peace!" Oakland Bishop Michael C. Barber wrote in an email the afternoon of July 11.

A native of San Francisco, Bishop Christian was a Dominican priest and belonged to the order's Western province, the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, which has its headquarters in Oakland.

"I was deeply saddened to learn this morning of the passing of Bishop Christian," San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone said. "The archdiocese was greatly blessed to have his wisdom and leadership even if for so brief a time as auxiliary bishop and even briefer time as rector of the seminary."

"We join with the Dominican community in praying for the repose of his soul and for peace and comfort for his wonderful family in their time of mourning," he added.

Jesuit Father John Piderit, who is moderator of the curia and vicar for administration of the San Francisco Archdiocese, said in announcing Bishop Christian's death July 11 that he "was discovered this morning in his bed at St. Patrick Seminary; he probably died during the night."

"This is a great loss for the Dominicans, the seminary, the archdiocese and for all who count Bishop Christian as a special friend. I request your prayers for Bishop Christian, that he be accepted with love and rejoicing in heaven," Father Piderit said. "He was a wonderful priest, bishop, teacher, administrator and spiritual guide."

Robert Francis Christian was born in San Francisco Dec. 2, 1948, attended St. Brendan and St. Vincent de Paul grammar schools and St. Ignatius High School.

In 1970, after graduating from Jesuit-run Santa Clara University, he entered the Dominican order at St. Albert Priory in Oakland and made his solemn profession as a Dominican in 1974. He was ordained a priest in Oakland June 4, 1976.

In 1977, he started his teaching career at Dominican College in San Rafael, California. He received a master of divinity degree from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Oakland in 1977. He went to Rome in 1979 for studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, known as the Angelicum, where he earned a licentiate of sacred theology followed by a doctorate in sacred theology.

Upon completion of his doctorate, he ministered at the Newman centers at the University of California in Riverside and the University of Washington in Seattle.

In 1985, he was assigned to the faculty at the Angelicum. Except for the years 1997-1999, when he was vicar provincial of the Dominicans' Western province, Bishop Christian taught theology, ministered to the Dominican community in Rome, held administrative offices at the Angelicum, and offered occasional assistance to various Vatican bureaus, until 2014.

Prior to becoming bishop he was the student master at St. Albert Priory in Oakland.

Other appointments include "peritus," or expert, at the 1990 Synod of Bishops on priestly formation, prior of the 75-member resident community of friars at the Angelicum, member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission and since 2013 had been a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Bishop Christian chose as his episcopal motto "Sanctificetur nomen tuum" ("Hallowed be thy name").

"It lets people know that I'll continue to preach the name of Jesus, who teaches me to be grateful for all that I have, including a good family, many friends, an education, my Dominican life and travels all over the world," he said. "God is the giver of all good gifts and has given me the opportunity to be something of a gift to others."

The Dominicans' Western province said in a statement: "Bishop Christian has tirelessly served the church and faithful for nearly 50 years. We are deeply saddened to hear of his death and entrust his soul to the loving arms of our heavenly Father. We ask for your prayers for the repose of his soul, as well as for his grieving family, friends and Dominican brothers around the world."

St. Albert's Priory in Oakland offered an evening requiem Mass for the repose of his soul July 11.

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The Catholic Voice is the newspaper of the Diocese of Oakland. Contributing to this story was Nicholas Wolfram Smith, a reporter at Catholic San Francisco, newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

All hymns, all the time: 'Great Catholic Music' makes streaming debut

By Mark Pattison Catholic News Service

CNS photo/courtesy Chris Cugini, Living Bread Radio

Program director Michael Roberts demonstrates the Great Catholic Music app for listeners. Great Catholic Music, an audio web streaming service, is a project of the Living Bread Radio Network, a group of Catholic radio stations in northeast Ohio. (CNS photo/courtesy Chris Cugini, Living Bread Radio) See GREAT-CATHOLIC-MUSIC July 12, 2019.

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholics hear hymns in church, but hardly ever on the radio. Now they can augment their weekly diet of hymnody through a new audio web streaming service called Great Catholic Music.

The service launched March 1, just before Lent, and plays a mix of pre-and post-Vatican II hymns and liturgical music all day, every day. "The response so far has been absolutely amazing," said program director Michael Roberts in an interview with Catholic News Service July 11. "The first night that we launched we received an email from someone in Santa Barbara, California, saying, 'Thank you so much.'"

Great Catholic Music is a project of the Living Bread Radio Network, a group of Catholic radio stations in northeast Ohio. But those stations don't play music. Why not?

"I think a lot of it has to do with licensing. It's not cheap to play music on the radio," said Roberts, who worked at a small oldies-format station for seven years which spent $1,000 a month on licensing. "People are just kind of scared to dip their toe in the water of music," he added. "It's easier for a lot of people not to do music" and rely on talk shows, although with Great Catholic Music, "we felt there was a market for it -- and there really is."

Roberts said Great Catholic Music is based in the same building as a Catholic bookstore in Canton, Ohio, where the owner also sells liturgical music CDs. "She has kept a lot of the demos and a lot of the CDs that she's sold over the years. We literally took the time to download them and dubbed in to our hard drive," Roberts told CNS.

Anybody who remembers listening to hit-music formats regardless of genre will recall how the most popular songs of that moment seemed to be played every couple of hours. Great Catholic Music plays favorites, too, but not nearly that obsessively.

What constitutes "heavy rotation" is 100 or so "songs we've been singing for decades: 'You Are Mine,' 'Blest Are They,' Michael Joncas stuff, the St. Louis Jesuits. We Googled 'top Catholic songs,' and we found several lists compiled by several organizations," Roberts said, adding, "Some of them I may have taken liberties on as the program director."

He added he was planning to go to the National Association of Pastoral Musicians convention in Raleigh, North Carolina, and talk with representatives of what he called "the big three" in liturgical music publishing -- GIA, OCP and WLP, whose hymnals and worship aids are in the vast majority of U.S. parishes -- to add to the current repertoire.

"I hope the publishers come to us and say, 'Here's a demo. Add this song to the rotation, add that song,'" he said, adding the possibility exists for "a show that is just for up-and-coming artists."

Even though Great Catholic Music is loaded with music, it's not 100 percent music.

"Part of this is to inspire. It's not just music, we want to inspire people," Roberts said, adding the website, www.greatcatholicmusic.com, also takes breaks for psalms, Scripture readings and prayers.

"We have some quotes of St. John Paul II, and Archbishop Fulton Sheen and Mother Teresa," he said. "We also have clergy from all over northeast Ohio; by the way, this is where Living Bread Radio and Great Catholic Music come together. We have a clergy member who does a reflection. We take that and put it into rotation for Great Catholic Music. You're hearing a daily reflection of the Mass readings for the day. It's another way to inspire."

Roberts said, "It's a quick break. It's like a commercial interruption, but it's not a commercial."

This early on, adjustments are bound to be made to the mix. Roberts said he's received requests for both more chant and less chant. He fielded a complaint from one listener on Good Friday that the music was "too dirge-y." And trying to salt in Lenten and Advent hymns when there's not a lot to begin with can be tricky, he noted.

Roberts did declare, though, that Christmas music would not be heard on Great Catholic Music until Christmas Eve, but it would continue to be heard through the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Subduing attacker unusual reaction for deacon but he had to protect abbey

By Ed Langlois Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Ed Langlois, Catholic Sentinel

Deacon Jose Montoya, 52, pictured July 8, 2019, shows how he was attacked outside the church at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey near Lafayette, Ore., July 1, by a man who said the devil told him to throw the punch. (CNS photo/Ed Langlois, Catholic Sentinel) See ABBEY-DEACON-ATTACKED July 12, 2019.

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- Deacon Jose Montoya stares in horror. What if the vicious surprise punch had hit an elderly monk instead of on his own face? Such a blow might have killed a frailer man. And what if the attacker had wielded a knife or a gun?

Deacon Montoya, a permanent deacon assigned to St. Peter Parish in Newberg, works full time as physical plant manager for Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey near Lafayette.

On the morning of July 1, he was supervising a landscape crew next to the abbey church. He and the workers had noticed a stocky muscular man walk past and into the house of prayer, like dozens of worshippers do every day. But when the visitor came out minutes later, he silently walked behind Deacon Montoya, who turned just as the man threw a hard punch. The fist smashed into the deacon's left eyebrow and sent him off balance.

The 31-year-old puncher did not run, but stood his ground defiantly. In a natural reaction, the 52-year-old deacon put up his fists to defend himself, even as he asked the silent puncher to explain himself. A fistfight ensued, with the deacon pushing the man to the ground and then falling himself. The attacker leapt to his feet and started kicking the deacon furiously.

When Deacon Montoya got up, the man ran toward an abbey building that guests and monks frequent.

The deacon pursued the man and tackled him among some shrubs. Eventually, the shocked landscapers came to help and held the man down. He thrashed and shouted in Spanish that the devil had told him to throw the punches.

Deacon Montoya kept one hand on the man and used the other to call police. In nine minutes, five Yamhill County Sherriff's squad cars arrived. Officers identified the intruder as Milton Martinez Carmona, an area resident, who was on probation for leading police on a high-speed chase over a road that was not yet open in 2017. Recently, he broke the windows of his parents' home with a metal pipe and was convicted of groping female employees at a McDonald's restaurant.

Carmona, who has a history of not showing up for court appearances, appears to suffer from mental illness and addiction to methamphetamines.

For the abbey attack, Carmona was charged with misdemeanor assault.

"In a way I am glad that I am the one who was attacked," Deacon Montoya told the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland. "We have so many volunteers, elderly people who come for retreats, elderly monks. What if he had hit one of the brothers, one of the priests? That would be devastating."

Social media trolls have attacked Deacon Montoya, claiming he should have turned the other cheek as Jesus taught. On the other end of the spectrum, fellow deacons have teased him in a friendly and admiring way, calling him "The Deaconator."

He takes it all in stride. But he is a gentle man, and his violent, defensive response troubles him even though he knows it was the right thing to do under the circumstances.

"My reaction was different than what I expected as a deacon, as a man of the church," he said. "I feel like in a way, oh my goodness, I shouldn't have reacted that way. But it takes over. The adrenaline rush -- it just went."

For the first two nights after the attack, he could not sleep, agonizing over what he did.

Deacon Montoya wants people to know that he had no intention to hurt Carmona, just to subdue him for everyone's safety. "In reality, my intention was to protect myself and I wanted to stop the threat."

He has thought a lot about Jesus' admonition to turn the other cheek. "I know Jesus would do it because he is perfect, but I am not perfect," he said.

The night of the assault, he settled down as usual with his wife to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. They prayed especially hard for Carmona.

"Deacon Jose's quick thinking and strong response to bring a dangerous situation safely to a close may well have protected others who were at the abbey," said Deacon Brian Diehm, director of the Office for the Diaconate at the Archdiocese of Portland.

The July 1 assault is the latest in a two-year string of incidents at the abbey, 2.5 miles north of Highway 99. Transients have sought to live in the parking lot, one in a stolen rental truck, and mentally ill people have wandered into the church. One vandal entered a confessional and marked the walls and a Bible with graffiti accusing the pope and the monks of being pedophiles.

The monks have a keen sense of hospitality and don't make much fuss about the troubles. They leave their 1,300-acre grounds open to hikers, as many as 50 per day. But Deacon Montoya said that some visitors lack respect, leaving garbage and failing to clean up after their dogs. Poachers have hunted on the land, with some gunmen shooting signs.

Conversations are underway at the abbey about better security, with the July 1 attack providing urgency to the topic.

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Langlois is managing editor of the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland.

Conference celebrates African American Catholics' gifts to liturgy, ministry

By Mark Zimmermann Catholic News Service

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (CNS) -- Just before the July 6 closing Mass for the Archbishop Lyke Conference that seeks to enrich liturgies and ministries and promote evangelization at parishes serving Black Catholics, Andrew Lyke reflected on the legacy of his late uncle for whom the conference was named.

Archbishop James P. Lyke, who was a Franciscan, served as a parish priest in Memphis, Tennessee, as an auxiliary bishop in Cleveland and as the archbishop of Atlanta before he died of cancer in 1992.

Eight years earlier, he had coordinated the writing of "What We Have Seen and Heard," a pastoral letter of the nation's black bishops, and he also coordinated the African American Catholic hymnal "Lead Me, Guide Me," published in 1987.

"He was one that loved the liturgy," Andrew Lyke said in an interview with the Catholic Standard newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington. "He believed very strongly that when we bring the drama of the Roman liturgy with the passion of black spirituality, it's just a powerful experience."

The Archbishop Lyke Conference began in 2004. This year's conference was held July 2-6 near Washington, in National Harbor and took place in conjunction with the Father Clarence Rivers Music Institute. Father Rivers, a Catholic priest who died in 2004, was a noted composer of liturgical music whose work combined Catholic worship with traditional African American music.

The gathering's theme was "Every Knee Shall Bend: Reconciliation, Black and Catholic." Workshops tied that theme into a variety of topics, including Black spirituality and Negro spirituals. Some programs were offered for young adults, music ministers and liturgical dancers.

One of the workshops was titled "Black and Catholic: Our Gift of Blackness to the Whole Church," and another examined the U.S. bishops' 2018 pastoral letter against racism, "Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love."

Other sessions looked at "Praying Quietly in a LOUD world!" and the sacrament of reconciliation. Workshops also dealt with specific ministries like proclaiming God's word at Mass.

Andrew Lyke and his wife, Terri, who are members of Sacred Heart Parish in Joliet, Illinois, and are leaders in marriage preparation, education and enrichment, led a session on "Reconciliation at Home: Sacramental Echoes in the Domestic Church."

"We're training ministers of liturgy. We're coming together. We celebrate our roles, and we're sent off to do our job, just to make worship significant and meaningful and to help communities thrive," said Richard Cheri, executive director of the Lyke Foundation that supports the operations of the conference.

Cheri, who serves as the director of music and worship at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in New Orleans, noted this "is the only conference intentionally focused on ministry to African Americans (in the Catholic Church)."

Challenges that the Catholic Church faces in the black community include "losing people to megachurches ... and keeping our youth present, involved and active in the church," Cheri said.

The Archbishop Lyke Conference drew about 370 people from 32 dioceses, including 110 people who sang in the conference choir. Participants included music ministers, lectors, hospitality ministers and Eucharistic ministers at parishes serving black Catholics.

"Everyone has a chance to share their gift," said Cheri, who added that people leave the conference "with a sense of what is possible in their ministries."

At a July 4 morning prayer session at the conference, Father David Jones, pastor of St. Benedict the African Parish in Chicago, said that in a world that struggles for forgiveness, God calls people to reconcile with each other.

"This is a God who is trying to bring us back together again," said Father Jones. "We need to remember, the work of reconciliation is God's work."

Speaking of the sacrament of reconciliation, the priest said God "desires to rid us of our sin ... so we can be free to do what God needs done."

That morning, Ansel Augustine, formerly the director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministries for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, led a workshop on "Finding Jesus in the Midst of Your Paperwork: Reconciling Busyness with Ministry."

"We need to keep Jesus in the midst of everything we do," he said.

Augustine said that growing up in New Orleans, he was inspired by the outreach of his parish priest and a Sister of the Holy Family and eventually followed their example and worked with youth in his neighborhood.

"For me, one of the hardest things in youth ministry is having to bury our young people or visit them in jail. You think you're a failure," he said, and recalled consoling words spoken to him by his priest mentor who said, "It's not about you. It's about what God does through you."

At his workshop, a woman who does foster care ministry in Denver said, "I feel like God is working through me." A woman who works in cultural ministry in Pennsylvania said the goal of her work is to be a bridge among cultures and her diocese, and to get the people whom she serves "closer to Jesus." And a woman who works in campus ministry in South Carolina added, "My outcome is for them to have faith in God and faith in themselves."

On July 5, conference participants visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, where some of the exhibits highly the central role of faith in the lives of African Americans throughout the nation's history, including in the struggle for civil rights.

The gathering's closing Mass July 6 began with a joyous hymn, "This is the Day the Lord has Made," sung by the conference choir. They clapped and sang as about a dozen liturgical dancers preceded the opening procession.

Welcoming the conference participants, Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, the main celebrant, said, "No matter where we come from, we belong to the Lord."

The concelebrants at the Mass included New Orleans Auxiliary Bishop Fernand J. Cheri.

In his homily, Dominican Father Jeffery Ott, who is pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Atlanta, said: "We are called to celebrate Christ's presence with us, in this moment. ... That means we are called to be a freed people in Christ, liberated by the saving grace of the Gospel."

Concluding his homily, the priest said, "As we leave this conference, we are commissioned to go in Christ's name, to be Christ's light, to be reconcilers in our work and ministry, to lift up the name of Christ in all we say and do."

The 2020 Archbishop Lyke Conference will be held June 16-20 at Xavier University in New Orleans.

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Zimmermann is editor of the Catholic Standard, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Washington.

Poor Clare marks silver jubilee; she traded in hoops for life of prayer

By Elizabeth A. Elliott Catholic News Service

CNS photo/courtesy Villanova Athletics

Shelly Pennefather, who later became Sister Rose Marie, a member of the Poor Clare order, is seen during her time as a member of the women's basketball team at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. She celebrated her 25th jubilee at the Poor Clare convent in Alexandria, Va., June 9, 2019. (CNS photo/courtesy Villanova Athletics) See POOR-CLARE-VOWS July 12, 2019. 

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNS) -- The last time Poor Clare Sister Rose Marie of the Queen of Angels hugged her mom or other family members was in 1994 when she made her solemn profession of vows to her religious order.

In June, when she renewed her solemn vows, more than 120 friends and family gathered to greet her at the Poor Clare Monastery of Mary, Mother of the Church in Alexandria. It was the first time she hugged many of her nieces and nephews.

"It was such a joy for all of us to celebrate this milestone in our sister's life. For someone to persevere for 25 years in a hidden life of prayer and penance is a proof of God's grace," said Abbess Mother Miriam Love.

"It helps confirm all of us in our vocation to serve the church with our prayer and with our lives," she told the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington.

Before entering the convent, Sister Rose Marie, known as Shelly Pennefather, was a basketball star -- in Catholic high school and during her college career at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. She played three seasons of professional basketball for the Nippon Express in Japan after graduating from Villanova.

Her skills on the court got a mention from Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge during his homily at the Mass he celebrated on Pentecost, June 9, when Sister Rose Marie celebrated her silver jubilee and renewed her vows.

"Having so many opportunities in front of her for a successful and professional career in basketball and to cling to what the world deems necessary for happiness, the Spirit of God proved to be more powerful than such allurements," Bishop Burbidge said.

"(This) allowed Sister Rose Marie to hear and to respond to God's voice inviting her to a radical new way of living in his presence within a community of sisters devoted entirely to the Lord and dedicated to prayer for his church and his people," he said.

Sister Rose Marie "asks for the grace to be strengthened in faith, hope and love and to persevere faithfully in her consecration," Bishop Burbidge said in his homily. "Together, we ask God 'to send the fire of the Holy Spirit into the heart of his daughter that she may always be one with him in loving fidelity to Christ, her bridegroom.'"

He added: "How blessed we are as her sisters, family members and friends to participate in this sacred liturgy and to thank God for the gift that Sister Rose Marie has been and remains to the church and to each one of us. I am sure that at the conclusion of this ceremony, we will all be able to say, 'There was no doubt that the Holy Spirit was here today.'"

After the homily, Sister Rose Marie came to the open communion doors to the right of the altar and renewed her vows.

After Bishop Burbidge asked her what she asks of God and the church, she replied, "I ask for the grace to renew my solemn vows, to be strengthened in faith, hope and love, and to persevere faithfully in my consecration."

After a prayer offered by Bishop Burbidge, Sister Rose Marie knelt before Abbess Miriam and placed her hands in the hands of the abbess and renewed her vows. Bishop Burbidge extended his hands over Sister Rose Marie in blessing and embraced her with the sign of peace.

Then, one by one, 40 to 50 members of her family extended the sign of peace.

As Shelly Pennefather, her basketball career took shape during three years at Bishop Machebeuf Catholic High School in Denver. She led Machebeuf to three consecutive state championships and a 70-0 record. When her family she moved, her final year of high school was at Notre Dame High School in Utica, New York. She led Notre Dame to a 26-0 record, making for a no loss record for her entire high school career.

Pennefather was named to the Parade All-American High School Basketball Team. She was a U.S. Olympic Festival selection in 1981 and 1983. She turned out for the USA Women's R. William Jones Cup Team in 1982 where she earned a silver medal.

Records she set at Villanova University (1983-87) include becoming the school's all-time leading scorer for both men and women with 2,408 career points; and the program's all-time leading rebounder with 1,171 rebounds. She received the Wade Trophy in 1987, given to the top player in NCAA Division One women's basketball, and is one of six Villanova women's basketball players to have her jersey retired.

During her off-seasons as a professional player with the Nippon Express, she volunteered at St. Teresa of Kolata's Missionaries of Charity mission in Norristown, Pennsylvania. She retired from basketball and entered the Poor Clare convent in 1991.

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Elliott is a staff writer at the Arlington Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Arlington.


For Immediate Release:  June 1, 2019

Holy Cross Sister Helene Sharp celebrates golden jubilee

Notre Dame, Ind. – Sister Helene Sharp, CSC, who currently serves in vocation ministry with Saint Mary’s College, Holy Cross College  and the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Ind., will be honored on July 21, 2019, during a jubilee celebration in the Church of Our Lady of Loretto at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Ind., for her 50 years of consecrated life as a Sister of the Holy Cross.

Sister Helene served in the ministry of education for 16 years. She shared her gifts as an educator in Twin Springs, Nev.; Lynwood, Calif.; and Seattle, Wash. She taught elementary students at Our Lady of Lourdes School, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Saint Joseph School, Ogden, Utah, for a cumulative six years, and at St. Pius School in Redwood City, Calif., where she served for five years. In 1987, Sister Helene began her eight years of parish ministry at St. Elizabeth parish, Richfield, Utah. In Kasoa, Ghana, West Africa, she continued her parish ministry work, serving at St. Martha’s parish for 11 years. Sister Helene later worked for four years as office manager for the Holy Cross Skills Training Centre, Takoradi, Ghana. She ministered as the Congregation’s vocation coordinator for the United States for five years before entering her present ministry in January 2019.

Sister Helene was born in Ely, Nev. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona, Tucson, and a Master of Arts from Santa Clara University, Calif. Sister Helene made her initial profession of vows on August 15, 1969, and her perpetual profession on July 28, 1974.   

About the Sisters of the Holy Cross

Founded in 1841 in Le Mans, France, the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross is an international community of women religious whose motherhouse is in Notre Dame, Ind. The Congregation serves in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ghana, India, Mexico, Peru, Uganda and the United States. Sisters of the Holy Cross are called to be witnesses of God’s transforming love for the life of the world. Their ministries focus on providing education and health care services, eradicating material poverty and ending discrimination—giving witness to God’s desire for the transformation of human hearts, human relationships and all creation. To learn more about the Sisters of the Holy Cross, visit www.cscsisters.org.

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