U.S. Church News


Catholic colleges, universities face pandemic's financial punch

By Carol Zimmermann Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Chaz Muth

The Washington campus of Trinity Washington University is seen in this May 13, 2020, photo. Catholic colleges and universities throughout the U.S. report struggles resulting from the coronavirus pandemic's economic hit. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth) See COLLEGES-FINANCES-PANDEMIC May 19, 2020.

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The coronavirus pandemic that has impacted the health and economy of the nation particularly dealt a blow to Catholic higher education, from the large universities with hefty endowments to smaller liberal arts schools.

Two articles posted online May 13 in The Washington Post illustrate the scope of the financial situation for two very different Catholic universities located just five miles away from each other.

One focused on Georgetown University's budget cuts as it faced a $50 million shortfall while another article examined the impact of federal aid, and lack of it, for students without legal documentation, affecting Trinity Washington University, a women's university which serves predominantly African American and Latina students.

At Trinity, DACA students make up 10% of the enrollment. These students are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that allows qualified adults who arrived in the U.S. as children without legal documentation to attend college without the threat of deportation.

Through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES Act, college students were eligible for student aid, which Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, said she immediately applied for only to later find out the requirements for it had changed to exclude students without legal documentation.

"I have never been in a situation where you get the money and you're still getting the rules after the fact," McGuire told the Post.

She also said the current time is "precarious" for the university, which is not wealthy. "Our endowment is $16 million. That's the sob story, but we're going to make it. I'm committed to making sure that the people here don't suffer because of the pandemic," she said.

Conversely, the newspaper's story about Georgetown University, a school with a significantly larger endowment, revealed how no schools are immune from the financial impact of the pandemic's shutdown.

A May 12 letter to members of the Georgetown community from the university's president, John DeGioia, said the school's unbudgeted spending at the beginning of the pandemic's shutdown along with loss of revenue in the summer has brought the university to an operating loss of $50 million as it looks to the fall semester.

DeGioia, like other university leaders, responded to this financial crunch by saying the school would significantly reduce new capital expenditures. It also was withholding salary increases, putting a hold on hiring and suspending contributions to employees' retirement plans for the coming fiscal year. More than 50 members of the school's administration also took voluntary salary reductions for the coming fiscal year.

These cuts along with a nine-week voluntary temporary furlough program for all eligible employees, while still receiving health care benefits, and a voluntary temporary salary reduction program for eligible employees were other measures to make up for some of the schools' financial losses, he said.

To date, one Catholic college has closed, due in part to the financial impact of the coronavirus: Holy Family College in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. The school, founded in 1935, announced May 4 it was closing at the end of August.

In a May 7 letter to the school community, Franciscan Sister Natalie Binversie, the school's community director, said the decision to close the college was a difficult one to make but that the "COVID-19 ramifications sealed the concerns about the colleges long-term future" since it was already coping with increased costs, changing student demographics and fundraising challenges.

Notre Dame de Namur University in California announced this spring that the school, with about 1,500 students, would not enroll new undergraduate students for this summer or fall and will likely only remain in operation through the spring 2021 semester.

The school, in the San Francisco Bay Area and founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1868, said on its website that it intends to "stay open at least long enough to serve our students who are close to graduating. We hope to find a way to remain open in the future, but we cannot make that guarantee."

The economic costs of closing campuses for two months and in some cases refunding students' tuition and room and board costs was a huge financial hit for many colleges.

Joseph Nyre, president of Seton Hall University, which is operated by the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, outlined some of these costs in an April 27 letter to the school community.

He said the school is "understandably facing lost revenue and additional costs this academic year" from pro-rated refunds to students for room, board and parking and school-funded grants to cover amounts not refunded or credited for students' study abroad. It also lost funds from not offering summer sessions and from the canceled NCAA basketball tournament, which provides funds for NCAA member schools for their athletic departments.

The university took steps to address the impact of these unplanned costs and losses with a university-wide hiring freeze, the suspension of major planned capital projects, a review of all contracts with outside vendors and an assessment of the school's pay and benefits for employees.

The school announced that like other colleges and universities, it had to furlough some of its employees, while keeping their health insurance coverage, for those whose work could not continue remotely or was not needed at the time.

While colleges are trimming budgets wherever they can, they also are trying to make sure their students get financial relief in this crisis and working to reopen in the fall as a way to keep the revenue stream flowing.

But they also are reaching out to students in no-cost ways as well.

At Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut, founded by the Dominican Sisters of St. Mary of the Springs, students who were sent home during the pandemic this spring each received a phone call from a faculty member or someone from the staff or even the school's president, Marc Camille.

Callers let the students know they were missed and asked how they are doing and how the college could be of assistance.

Camille, who addressed the school community in a video message May 15, as he did each week of the campus shutdown, thanked students and faculty for their resilience and perseverance and noted that it has been a "challenging but fulfilling year."

He also said he looked forward to seeing returning students in the fall while "details about the parameters" involved in resuming school again continued to be worked out.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

Catholic doctors say churches essential, offer 'road map' to safely reopen

By Pablo Kay Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Rick Musacchio, Tennessee Register

Mike Decker of Nashville, Tenn., applies an electrostatic disinfectant at Christ the King Church May 15, 2020. (CNS photo/Rick Musacchio, Tennessee Register) See CHURCHES-REOPENING-PHYSICIANS May 19, 2020.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- A blue-ribbon panel of Catholic doctors from some of the nation's top research hospitals and universities said churches should be able to reopen "as safely as other essential services," after being shut down for more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a document published on the Catholic Medical Association website, www.cathmed.org, and sent out to the nation's bishops the week of May 11, the seven-member panel offered a "road map" for the nation's churches, including guidance on how to hear confessions and resume public celebrations of the Eucharist.

"I believe that churches can be just as safe, if not at times safer than so-called 'essential businesses,' provided they take the precautions that are recommended in this document," said Dr. Anushree Shirali, a nephrologist at the Yale University School of Medicine who has been treating coronavirus dialysis patients since the pandemic broke out in March.

In exclusive interviews with Angelus, the Los Angeles archdiocesan news platform, Shirali and other authors of the document said they came together to offer guidance as Catholics and health professionals who want to help their bishops develop "safest practices" based on the best medical evidence on the coronavirus.

With the virus outbreak, every U.S. state put in place restrictions aimed at restraining the spread, with most imposing strict "stay at home" orders and shutting down businesses and activities considered "nonessential."

States began reopening in May, with most following federal guidelines and benchmarks for a "phased in" return to normal operations of businesses, schools, and other social functions.

And while several dioceses around the country have announced initial, cautious plans for reopening, churches remain sharply limited under many state recovery plans, including plans in California and New York, two of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom envisions "in-person religious services" not opening until the third phase of his four-phase plan, listing churches among other "higher risk environments," such as movie theaters and sporting events. At a May 18 news conference, Newsom suggested that faithful could meet for worship again in a matter of weeks, "not months ... if everything holds," but offered no specifics.

In their new document, the blue-ribbon panel of specialists from Yale, Columbia, UCLA and the Mayo Clinic question the premise churches pose higher risks for spreading the virus.

The doctors said the Catholic Church should be guided by "faith and reason, especially in times of crisis," and they urge the church to "comply with state and local regulations."

"Safest practices should be created with input from medical experts," the new document added. "These practices will likely evolve as the pandemic unfolds and will vary based on ongoing local, regional, and national risk assessments."

In interviews, the doctors emphasized churches should be regarded as essential partners in rebuilding society in the wake of the pandemic, and said there are reasons to believe churches can do an even better job protecting people than other institutions in society.

"If you should have best practices for a grocery store and for a Home Depot, why can't you have best practices for church services?" said Dr. Andrew Wang, an immunobiologist who is helping to guide clinical research into the virus at Yale.

"I just can't see for any clear scientific reason why preparing food for a thousand people in a restaurant is any safer than people going to Mass," he added.

In their road map, the doctors recommend Mass be celebrated using social-distancing measures with congregants wearing masks and churches should be cleaned thoroughly between services. Singing should be avoided, they said, and Communion should be received in the hand, with younger priests or ministers preferred for distributing Communion.

The sacrament of confession, the doctors recommended, "should follow safe social-distancing practices and be carried out in a well-ventilated area, outdoors or in the main church" with both priest and penitent wearing masks and with an "impermeable physical barrier" between them.

In a May 14 memorandum, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair of Hartford, Connecticut, head of the U.S. bishops' divine worship committee, offered the new document as "another resource" for bishops working on their reopening plans.

Archbishop Blair had earlier circulated a document prepared by another group of doctors for the Thomistic Institute, affiliated with the Dominican House of Studies in Washington.

The prelate described both documents as "primarily medical in nature" and said both "specify the medical considerations that need to be taken into account, even as there is disagreement on some points of a prudential nature," he wrote.

The chief difference between this new document and the earlier one concerns how Communion should be distributed and received.

While the Thomistic Institute concluded that "it is possible to distribute on the tongue without unreasonable risk," this new document urged that Communion be distributed in the hand, citing "newly available evidence" about the transmission of the coronavirus through saliva.

Shirali, the Yale nephrologist, said this conclusion was difficult for her.

"I don't actually feel comfortable receiving Communion in any other way than on the tongue," she said. "At the same time, I'm also somebody who, when we have influenza breakouts, doesn't receive on the tongue and receives spiritual Communion."

COVID-19, she said, is more dangerous than the flu. Emerging data suggests that the "viral load" of the coronavirus in an infected person's saliva may be higher than in the pharynx and nasal passages, potentially making the mouth "a huge reservoir" for the virus.

Shirali told Angelus that "very strong precautions" for distributing Communion on the tongue would be needed, including requiring the priest to "sanitize his hands immediately after each communicant, regardless of whether he thinks he has touched the tongue or any other part of the recipient's mouth."

The severity of the coronavirus and its impact, especially on patients who are older or who have preexisting conditions, also led the doctors to recommend that Communion be distributed by younger priests and ministers in good health.

"My opinion as an infectious diseases specialist is that the young and healthy priests and eucharistic ministers are at lowest risk when being a part of this important sacrament and delivering the host to communicants," said pediatric infection diseases specialist Dr. Paul Krogstad, who is assisting in trials of multiple experimental COVID-19 medications at the UCLA Medical Center.

Wang said his firsthand experience with the virus confirms scientific evidence that suggests that men are more susceptible than women to COVID-19 infection and that those over 55 are most at risk, along with patients with preexisting conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease, diabetes or a weakened immune system.

While the doctors who spoke to Angelus insisted churches could be opened as safely as businesses and retail outfits and restaurants, they also argued the church's sacraments and ministry are vitally important as American society seeks a return to some semblance of normalcy.

Krogstad said the medical dangers of COVID-19 are real, but so are the psychological consequences of "stress and anxiety" caused by the shutdown of the economy and uncertainty about the future.

Wang agreed: "Especially now as people are experiencing a lot of anxiety, and psychiatric issues arising from being isolated, it's important that the community of the church is there for them, that the fortification we get from participating in the sacraments is available, so that the church can help in this global crisis as it has in all the other global crises before this one."

Shirali described the consensus among the doctors as: "Yes, we understand and we absolutely agree that the sacraments need to be open again, but it needs to be done in a matter that's safest for everybody."

Every institution in American society is going to have to adapt to the new realities of a post-COVID-19 world, Wang added. "This is a problem that any institution will have to deal with and innovate. There's no reason the church can't do that just as well as any other institution."

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Kay is the editor-in-chief of Angelus, the online media platform of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.


In Arkansas family, all hands put to work to design children's missalette

By Aprille Hanson Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Travis McAfee, Arkansas Catholic

This is a page from the children's missalette "Diary of a God Man." (CNS photo/courtesy Travis McAfee, Arkansas Catholic) See FAMILY-CHILDRENS-MISSALETTE May 19, 2020.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CNS) -- Grace Dickinson is blunt in her 12-year-old wisdom -- the Catholic missalette is boring. But not because of the Scriptures, which are filled with exciting stories of our faith, but the presentation itself.

"It doesn't appeal to kids," she said. "It only has color on the front page."

And in a family of eight -- parents Kevin and Tiffany Dickinson, both 37, and six children 14 and younger -- staying focused at Mass can be a challenge.

"It's trial and error," Tiffany said, with Kevin adding, "Bribes," of doughnuts after either 9 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, or the 10:30 a.m. Mass at St. Raphael in Springdale, Arkansas.

To make the Scriptures come alive, the family is creating "Diary of a God Man," a comic-book-style missalette to not only keep children engaged in the liturgy, but to give them an understanding of the Bible on their level.

Their team includes mom Tiffany as the spiritual director and dad Kevin as supervisor. Tiffany is a graduate student, working on her doctorate as a nurse practitioner, and her husband is a small-business owner of Preferred Office Technologies in Fayetteville.

But the creative geniuses making it relatable are the children, who attend St. Joseph School, and each of them has a job -- Gabbi, 14, treasurer; Grace, 12, head of sales; Joseph, 11, illustrations; Ann Marie, 9, digital marketing; Eli, 7, creative; and Catherine, 4, moral support. And the titles are not just honorary -- from Gabbi creating profit/loss statements to Ann Marie handling emails and the website to Grace leading the promotions, they're growing spiritually.

"The whole point of this is because we wanted kids to be engaged in the Mass and really get something out of the Scriptures; not just sit still and be quiet at Mass and be good, but to leave Mass learning something," Tiffany Dickinson told the Arkansas Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock.

The family offered the Easter season readings and illustrations for free on their website, diaryofagodman.com, while public Masses were canceled amid the COVID-19 threat.

"It's challenging enough for kids to pay attention at church, let alone at home," Kevin Dickinson said. "In these uncertain times having Mass streaming, we just wanted it to be a resource" for families.

To make this book a reality, the family has started a $12,000 Kickstarter campaign. As of May 19, $11,213 had been raised. The fundraiser ends June 9.

"If we don't raise the total amount, we don't get anything," Kevin Dickinson said, explaining money is returned to donors if the set goal isn't achieved.

On Feb. 26, Grace Dickinson won $1,000 in the IdeaFame Business Pitch Contest hosted by Startup Junkie in Fayetteville. She had 60 seconds to pitch their business plan, no notes in hand, and beat out 22 other contestants.

"When I was actually up there, I wasn't too nervous because I've been a dancer for a long time so I don't really have any stage fright. I was pretty comfortable being up there," she said.

They invested in a Kickstarter video, an attorney and free online illustrations, created by close friend Travis McAfee, a parishioner at St. Raphael and owner of McAfee Studios.

"The unique thing about it is at its foundation, it's kid-led," McAfee said. The illustrations are based in "modern kid culture," which as a volunteer youth minister along with his wife, McAfee said it's important to connect it to a child's world. It's also fulfilling his childhood dream to be a cartoonist.

"I just see God working through it," he said. "The kids are using their insights and gifts, I'm using mine and we're all using it to build up the kingdom."

All illustrations get theological approval from Msgr. David LeSieur, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Rogers, Arkansas.

"That's been very humbling and overwhelming that people really like this enough and believe in it enough and want to help encourage it to keep going," Tiffany said.

Those who pledge money for the project receive incentives for different levels of pledges, ranging from $5 for an original digital proof of the book concept to $250 or more, which includes gifts such as a signed hard copy, merchandise and a personalized character of the donor or someone of their choice to appear in a Bible reading of their choice.

The plan is for the first missal to be completed by November. It will be for Year A -- the Catholic Church's liturgical calendar follows a three-year cycle, A, B and C. It will be 232 pages, for 52 Sundays and six holy days and will include the Sunday liturgy first reading, responsorial psalm, second reading and Gospel illustrations in full color.

Sales from the first book will be invested in books for years B and C and later on in merchandise, coloring books and publications in multiple languages. The family also will put 10% of the book proceeds toward St. Joseph School and the church building fund.

They're currently setting up meetings with publishers.

On Sundays, the Dickinsons sit around their dining room table and Tiffany reads the Sunday Scriptures. The children then discuss and sketch their interpretations, which are combined by Kevin before being sent to the illustrator.

The ultimate goal is to move children closer to God.

"I don't want them to just go through the motions. I don't want them just to sit in church and be good for an hour. I really want them to have that personal relationship" with the Lord, Tiffany Dickinson said.

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Editor's Note: To learn more about the missalette project or to donate, visit diaryofagodman.com.

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Hanson is associate editor of Arkansas Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock.


Jesuit presents book on how religion, ethics can shape refugee response

By Rhina Guidos Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Ali Hashisho, Reuters

A Syrian refugee girl in Bekaa, Lebanon, wears oversized shoes May 7, 2020, as Lebanon extends a lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease. As the global number of refugees is at an all-time high of more than 70 million, the world has become a less welcoming place for many of them, said Jesuit Father David Hollenbach during a May 19 launch of his book "Humanity in Crisis: How Ethics and Religion Shape Policy Responses to Refugees." (CNS photo/Ali Hashisho, Reuters) See JESUIT-BOOK-REFUGEES May 19, 2020.

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the global number of refugees is at an all-time high of more than 70 million, the world has become a less welcoming place for many of them, said Jesuit Father David Hollenbach during a May 19 launch of his book "Humanity in Crisis: How Ethics and Religion Shape Policy Responses to Refugees" via Zoom video.

But faith-based communities, including many Catholic organizations, have set an example in how to respond, with compassion and justice, to the crisis, said Father Hollenbach, a professor at Georgetown University.

Faith-based organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, or HIAS, and Islamic Relief, have helped with resettlement efforts, offering refugees hope in situations that could lead to despair, offering nourishment, recognizing refugees' human dignity and reaching across religious as well as nonreligious boundaries to help.

However, referencing the "Humanity in Crisis" title of his book, he said society globally is facing "a kind of shattering" of the common humanity that binds us together and the human family has become one that is "building walls," even against the vulnerable.

"To keep people out ... that fractures our common or shared humanity and that's also a very severe crisis we face in the world," he said.

The event, livestreamed by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown, addressed how caring for refugees is central to Christianity, Judaism and Islam. That's because each faith tradition "has roots in migration and displacement."

Joseph and Mary, for example, fled from persecution by King Herod "across an international border between Palestine and Egypt," said Father Hollenbach.

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees by definition," he said, and so Christians recognize that salvation involves tending to the poor, to refugees and that "when you feed the hungry, homeless, you're in fact responding to Christ."

But that fundamental belief has come under attack as nationalism and other forms of exclusion have eroded the values of serving others, particularly the most vulnerable, he said. Attempting to exclude the vulnerable, denying them the capacity to seek safety or sending them back to a situation where you put their lives in grave danger is "a violation of our common humanity that should be bringing us together," he said.  

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says all people have a right to life, to a homeland to adequate nutrition, health care and a right to seek asylum, he said. And although national borders remain important, "national borders do not override our common humanity," particularly when someone is in great need, when we have the capability to help, and when we can help without disproportionate burden to ourselves, he said.

"We have duties that reach across borders," he said.

Speakers such as Clemens Sedmak, professor of social ethics at University of Notre Dame, who participated in the online event, asked whether the world would have to "rethink the common good" in a moment of crisis, particularly the present moment of dealing with a pandemic.  

"What I think I can observe now with the COVID-19 crisis is a movement inward," Sedmark said. "So, a new nationalism and this sense of individuals trying to protect their own livelihoods, over and against others, how do we endure solidarity in crisis?"

Like global environmental challenges, the displacement of people because of conflict, and now a global disease will also need to be dealt with keeping the common good in mind because a problem for one person, is a problem for all people, said Father Hollenbach.

"COVID-19 is obviously an example of where the common good is at stake. If we can get rid of COVID-19 in the United States, but it remains strong in places like Nigeria or Central America, it's going to be back in the United States," he said. "There's no way this disease can be confined to one country and the refugee displacement situation is like that."

The world will have to reimagine current structures and ways of responding, he said.

"It's not a small project. We're looking at a very major initiative about rethinking of some of the structures of international order today," he said.  

Faith-based organizations, long accustomed to global events, are poised to help, the Jesuit added.

"Faith communities are transnational communities to begin with," he said. "Christianity reaches across borders. Judaism reaches across borders. Islam reaches across borders. Faith communities have a strong awareness of international and transnational threat, that's why ... they know what it means to reach across borders and to respond with compassion and justice.”


Update: Dozens gather virtually to sing psalms, hymns and inspired songs

By Dan Meloy Catholic News Service

CNS/frame grab from YouTube

The choir at Notre Dame Preparatory High School in Pontiac, Mich., and several teachers and alumni sing "He Never Failed Me Yet" in a video released on YouTube April 19, 2020. (CNS/YouTube screen grab) See HYMNS-SING May 19, 2020.

PONTIAC, Mich. (CNS) -- Notre Dame Preparatory High School's choir and alumni are bringing the world a little closer together, even when it remains far apart.

On April 19, the school released a video that featured 92 singers -- 67 current students and 25 alumni and teachers -- singing a rendition of "He Never Failed Me Yet" by Robert Ray, best known for his 1979 "Gospel Mass."

The five-minute video features shots of all 92 singers performing in unison, conducted by David Fazzini, director of choirs at Notre Dame Prep.

Fazzini said he was thinking about a virtual choir performance ever since the school closed its doors in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and seeing videos of similar performances persuaded him that the choir should try it.

"When the we got stuck with the school closing down, it seemed like an easy way to go," Fazzini told Detroit Catholic, the online news platform of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Fazzini recorded the different voice parts with his daughter, Chloe, an alumna of the choral program, and then sent those parts of the song to the students to practice and record a video of them singing.

"I recorded a video of myself conducting the song with their track as audio," Fazzini said. "So they watched a video of me conducting and used their phone to record their audio. So each student had to prepare themselves on their own with these materials."

The students sent the videos of them singing back to Fazzini, who then edited and synced the videos together to make the finished product -- about 40 hours of editing, by his guess.

"I work in a couple of different music groups that do weddings and different events around town, making small music videos that use five or six different angles," Fazzini said. "This had 92 different angles of video, 92 separate videos that had to be synced. Overall, it was 10 times what I have been used to."

The end result shows all members of the 92-voice choir at times on a grid eight frames high and 12 across, featuring solo performances from Chloe Fazzini and another Notre Dame Prep alumna, Gracie Calvaneso, who is currently pursuing a music career in Nashville, Tennessee.

In a time when the world seems upside down, David Fazzini is glad the song has been so well received, with more than 6,300 views.

"I picked the song not only because it's one of my favorite gospel tunes, but my wife was talking about linking it to Divine Mercy Sunday, because the song is all about singing of God's mercy," Fazzini said; the April 19 release of the video coincided with Divine Mercy Sunday. "I'm super happy with the results."

Fazzini said the greatest technical challenge for the singers was staying in rhythm and breathing together despite singing by themselves. Fazzini noted the cutoffs each of the singers recorded synced well together and required little editing, a credit to his students' and alumni's ability to adapt.

"What makes this whole feel process feel so great is that it is reaching so many people," Fazzini said. "It's about being inspired to have hope and faith, and if it links people to this idea of Divine Mercy, this great gift with have, then that's just amazing."

The Fazzini-Notre Dame effort isn't the only such one in the Catholic world.

In Italy, Coro Navicella got its 28 members to sing "Regina Coeli" a cappella in four-part harmony. A few new faces pop up from time to time, but each singer had to record separately, and then be mixed into the final version.

Also, a similar video was created and produced by Salt and Light Media, in collaboration with Oregon Catholic Press. Salt and Light Media gathered dozens of Catholic liturgical musicians, dubbing them "Catholic Artists From Home," to sing "Be Not Afraid," the popular hymn written by Jesuit Father Bob Dufford of St. Louis Jesuits fame. The video contains a fourth verse to the hymn not found in many hymnals.

Beginning the singing is Dan Schutte, who was a member of the St. Louis Jesuits along with Father Dufford, then the video movies briskly along to cover more than 50 singers and musicians who participated in the endeavor, among then John Michael Talbot, Tom Booth, Curtis Stephan, Steve Angrisano, Miley Azbill, Tony Melendez, Jesse Manibusan, Renee Bondi, Bob Halligan Jr., John Angotti, Pedro Rubalcava, Father Rob Galea, Camaldolese Father Cyprian Consiglio -- who launched his liturgical music ministry as layman Daniel Consiglio -- Danielle Noonan and even Todd Chuba playing the triangle.

As of mid-morning May 19, the Salt and Light Media video had close to 735,800 views.

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Editor's Note: The videos can be seen here:

"He Never Failed Me Yet": https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=18&v=PwfyVjVrMGA&feature=emb_logo

"Regina Coeli": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWN8v2kXCbo&feature=youtu.be

"Be Not Afraid": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF0DIpFOoBg&feature=youtu.be

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Meloy is a staff writer for Detroit Catholic, the online news platform of the Archdiocese of Detroit.


USCCB's Catholic Communication Campaign collection set for May 23-24

By Catholic News Service

CNS photo/courtesy Journey Films

This is a still from the "Revolution of the Heart: The Dorothy Day Story," a film by Martin Doblmeier. (CNS photo/courtesy Journey Films) See DOROTHY-DAY-DOBLMEIER and DOROTHY-DAY-PANEL Jan. 29, 2020.

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The annual collection for the U.S. bishops' Catholic Communication Campaign is scheduled to take place the weekend of May 23-24, coinciding with World Communications Day, which is May 24 this year.

The annual national appeal supports efforts in the United States and around the world to use the media, internet and print publications to help people connect with Christ and "spread the good news."

"In these times, the support of the Catholic Communication Campaign is vital to help keep the faithful connected to our faith and for dioceses to communicate the Gospel through all available means," said Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer of Atlanta, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee on the Catholic Communication Campaign.

"The CCC has long recognized the need to reach people and help them connect with Christ," he said in a May 18 statement.

The novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, "has prompted life to change in dramatic ways for more than two months with an increased reliance on communication tools to stay connected," a USCCB news release said in announcing the 2020 collection. "Catholics and non-Catholics alike are using online tools to work and attend school, and stay connected to their families, friends, and their faith."

In response to COVID, the USCCB developed a resource page about COVID-19 with support from the CCC. In a section titled "Together in Christ" on the USCCB website, www.usccb.org, there are links for families, parishes and dioceses for prayer resources, livestream of Masses and catechetical materials.

"Thanks to the generosity of the faithful in the United States, millions of people throughout the world have been able to connect in new ways with the good news of Jesus Christ, especially in recent months," Archbishop Hartmayer said.

While many dioceses are beginning to issue reopening protocols for their churches as states themselves begin to slowly reopen, most Catholics are still unable to gather together in their churches for Mass. Several dioceses offer electronic offertory programs that include the CCC or other ways for parishioners to support scheduled appeals in the absence of collections during Masses.

Fifty percent of the funds collected through the CCC remain in each diocese to support local communication efforts. The other half is used to support national efforts in the United States and in developing countries around the world.

Among other projects supported by major CCC grants are two documentaries now in national broadcast television circulation: "Revolution of the Heart: The Dorothy Day Story" and "Walking the Good Red Road: Nicholas Black Elk's Journey to Sainthood."

Day was the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement and is a candidate for sainthood. "Revolution of the Heart" was released to public television stations in March and has already exceeded 1,000 broadcasts nationwide, according the USCCB release. The film won the Religion Communicators Council 2020 Wilbur Award for best documentary

Filmmaker Martin Doblmeier ("An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story," 2017) wrote, directs and narrates the film. Actress Susan Sarandon, who famously portrayed contemporary Catholic social activist Sister Helen Prejean in the 1995 drama "Dead Man Walking," reads excerpts from Day's 1952 biography, "The Long Loneliness."

"Walking the Good Red Road" tells the story of Nicholas W. Black Elk, a 19th-century Lakota catechist who is said to have introduced hundreds of Lakota people to the Catholic faith. He also is a candidate for sainthood.

Black Elk was immortalized in author John Neihardt's classic 1932 book "Black Elk Speaks," in which he recalled the lost ways of Native American life. The documentary brings to light Black Elk's conversion and his ministry to his people, which he carried out in collaboration with the Jesuits who served his Pine Ridge Reservation.

As of May 17, in cooperation with the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission, "Walking the Good Red Road" is available on ABC-TV stations nationwide.

The Subcommittee on the Catholic Communication Campaign oversees the collection and an annual grants program under the direction of the USCCB's Committee on Communications.

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Editor's Note: More information about the Catholic Communication Campaign and shareable resources to promote it can be found at www.usccb.org/ccc.


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