Program #0156 for Thursday, October 13, 2011: Death of the oldest pastor; retirement plans; $1 million for Catholic schools; Project Rachel; Episcopalian converts; assault on religion; the bishops of Boston

October 13, 2011

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Susan Abbott

Today’s guest(s): Gregory Tracy, managing editor of The Pilot, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston

  • The Anchor
  • The Pilot
  • Some of the stories discussed on this show will be available on The Pilot’s and The Anchor’s websites on Friday morning. Please check those sites for the latest links.

Today’s topics: Death of the oldest pastor; retirement plans; $1 million for Catholic schools; Project Rachel; Episcopalian converts; assault on religion; the bishops of Boston

Summary of today’s show: Greg Tracy joins Scot and Susan to discuss the news of the week in the Pilot and the Anchor newspapers, including a new retirement offering for archdiocesan employees; the death of the Archdiocese’s oldest pastor at 96; a $1 million gift for Catholic schools; another Project Rachel testimonial; Episcopalian converts coming into the Church en masse; the federal government’s assault on freedom of religion; interesting statistics on abortion rates; and A new series on the bishops of Boston.

1st segment: Scot asked Susan how her four-day week is going and she said a four-day week after a three-day weekend is just like having a six-day week to catch up. The religious education office has been having workshops all over the archdiocese to train parish leaders to do confirmation preparation. The goal is to ensure that parish confirmation preparation is uniformly high quality.

Susan also shared the Joseph Anthony Abbott, her grandson, was born today to her son and daughter-in-law in Los Angeles. Another grandchild is due on February 4, which would make 8. Scot also wished his niece, Molly McDermott, a happy 5th birthday.

2nd segment: Scot said a big story in the Pilot this week is that 3,000 archdiocesan employees in the Pastoral Center and in parishes and schools will have a new 401(k) plan. While employees have a pension plan, younger employees will have a smaller payout at retirement and putting some away for themselves now is a good idea. Greg said a large readership of The Pilot are those who work for the Archdiocese and so it’s a significant story. The reality is that the Archdiocese began the switch from a traditional pension plan to a 401(k). Most organizations have made the switch because they have become very expensive as people are living longer and Social Security isn’t expect to cover everyone in the future. So the Archdiocese has selected a new model for retirement. There is currently a 403b plan, which is similar to a 401k, which was additional voluntary contributions, but did not include contributions from the employer and the 403b was spread over all kinds of vendors and plans. The 401k has all the benefits of the 403b but is much more portable and well-known.

Scot noted the obituary in this week’s Pilot for Msgr. Stanislaus Sypek who died this week at age 96 and was still an active pastor, not retired. He was ordained in 1943. They reviewed his long career of service to the Church. Also, Fr. Clyde Leonard died this week at 84. He was ordained in 1964 at 37 years old. That was unusual at the time. Fr. John Connelly, pastor of Sacred Heart, Newton, is the oldest serving pastor at 89 years old.

The State Street Foundation made a large gift to the Campaign for Catholic Schools of $1 million for the benefit of Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester and Mattapan. Greg attended the press conference and noted that the kids from the school will remember their whole lives how the people in the State Street Bank building cared for them enough to support their education. The State Street CEO said it’s an investment in the community. A good educated workforce benefits the entire business community. Catholic education has an immense success rate and is a good place to invest. Scot noted how the former mayor of Los Angeles has begun a campaign to raise $100 million for Catholic schools there.

Scot also noted the preparation for the Lenten launch of the “Why Catholic” program that follows up the Arise program. It is a 4-year journey through the Catechism, with 4 twelve-week sessions. It encourages small-group formation, which helps build community within parishes.

3rd segment: Scot said over the past few weeks the Pilot has published moving anonymous testimonials from women who’ve had abortions and received healing through the Project Rachel program. Susan said it’s beautiful testimony, not just to the love of God, but also to the work of our Pro-life Office. Scot said it hit him in the gut to hear how she said she felt unlovable and unforgivable by God. Scot noted that Bishop Hennessey says in the Light Is On For You videos that nothing you have ever done is too big for God to forgive. Greg said it was striking to see how the woman’s mother, who pressured her daughter to get an abortion, was herself reconciled to God as well.

4th segment: Scot said Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, received an entire Episcopalian community into the Church, including their pastor who is beginning his formal studies toward ordination. This is seen as a precursor to the declaration of an Ordinariate in the US, which is somewhat equivalent to a diocese covering the whole country.

In the past, Episcopalians who converted to Catholicism have had the pastoral provision that allowed them to use a particular Anglican-use liturgy that preserves the traditions of their faith while incorporating them into Catholic belief and practice. Greg said these incorporations have happened in bits and pieces, but in 2009, Pope Benedict formalized the process by which entire communities can enter the Church together.

In the military services, there’s been a push to have chaplains officiate at same-sex marriages. Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Military Archdiocese said this won’t happen with Catholic chaplains or Catholic chapels, but other chaplains are concerned. The Archbishop said the federal Defense of Marriage Act should prevent such impositions on chaplains in federal service. Scot said Fr. Roger Landry wrote his editorial in the Anchor this week on Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s recent list of five ways that the federal government is mounting an assault on religious freedom, including mandates for insurance to pay for contraception, sterilization, and abortion; forcing the bishop Migration and Refugees Services to provide “reproductive services” in order to continue to receive government contracts; pressure on Catholic Relief Services in a similar vein internationally; the Justice Department attacking the Defense of Marriage Act as bigotry; the Obama administration taking a position against the “ministerial exception” before the Supreme Court; and a push to redefine marriage in the states with pressure from above.

Scot said people often tell Catholics not to impose their faith on others, but that’s exactly what’s happening in the other direction. He said people need to be vocal in order to not give the impression that the majority agree with these impositions.

Another article shows that married women are much less likely to have abortions. The abortion rate among cohabitating women was 59 percent, formerly married and not cohabitating was 31.8 percent, women who never married and not cohabitating was 28.1 percent, and wives was 7.7 percent. In cohabitation, the future of the couple is uncertain and this it’s hard to be able to welcome new life with generosity. Greg said there’s been a societal shift in that marriage is no longer about family, but it’s just about love and romance. They are part of it, but not the complete picture.

Scot said there is a new series of articles on the bishops of Boston, starting with Bishop John Cheverus from his birth in France. Greg said the 100th anniversary of Cardinal O’Connell becoming Boston’s first cardinal comes up on November 11 and was the motivation for this series.

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