Cologne cardinal warns German church’s Synodal Path could cause schism

German Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne, pictured in a file photo, has praised small-group discussions in the Synodal Path process but warns some plans could lead to a “German national church.” CNS photo/Harald Oppitz, KNA

COLOGNE, Germany (CNS) — Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki warned that the Synodal Path reform project could lead to a “German national church.”

“The worst outcome would be if the Synodal Path leads to a schism … with the universal church,” Cardinal Woelki told Germany’s Catholic News Agency, KNA. “That would be the worst thing if something like a German national church were to be created here.”

KNA reported that Cardinal Woelki also praised the most recent discussions within the Synodal Path, held in five regional conferences due to the coronavirus pandemic. Smaller groups of participants permitted a better exchange of arguments than would have been possible in the originally planned Synodal Assembly, Cardinal Woelki said.

The Catholic Church in Germany launched the Synodal Path in 2019. Scheduled to run for two years, it is debating the issues of power, sexual morality, priestly existence and the role of women in the church. The aim is to restore trust lost in the clergy abuse scandal.

But the cardinal urged participants to avoid creating “unfulfillable hopes” regarding the ordination of women priests. This would cause frustration, he told KNA, because the issue had been decided by St. John Paul II.

“I cannot treat it as if the question were open,” the cardinal said. “In that case, the discussion takes place outside the teaching of the church.”

As pope, in 1994, St. John Paul reaffirmed that the church does not have the authority to confer priestly ordination on women and declared that this teaching is to be definitively held by all the faithful.

Cardinal Woelki criticized the theological standard of some of the working papers prepared for the Synodal Path and said, “The whole world is looking at the church in Germany and at this Synodal Path right now, so we can’t just permit ourselves to embarrass ourselves theologically through ineptitude.”

He urged theologians in and outside the Synodal Path talks to become more involved in the debate.

Cardinal Woelki also expressed the hope that the process would succeed in “initiating a true reform, which is definitely needed in the church.”

This reform, he said, must “correct all manifestations and realities that have led away from the nature of the church.” It was about understanding the church not as a “purely sociological entity,” but rather about understanding “that it is the work of God.” The goal of any reform of the church must be to move toward Christ and his message, he said.

Many Catholics no longer knew “who Christ is, what the church is, they no longer know what a sacrament is, what the sacramental structure of the church is,” the cardinal said.

The Catholic weekly newspaper Die Tagespost reported Sept. 17 that 53% of German Catholics said they were not interested in the Synodal Path. The lack of interest among Germans as a whole was greater at 63%, with 11% saying they were interested and 17% undecided.

More than 2,000 adults were interviewed for the survey from Sept. 11-14.

In some places, Catholics’ right to worship ‘unjustly repressed’ by government, says San Francisco archbishop

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco is seen with other bishops in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica Jan. 27, 2020, during their “ad limina” visit to the Vatican. CNS photo/Stefano Dal Pozzolo

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — In imposing severe restrictions on indoor worship services because of COVID-19 protocols, the city of San Francisco “is turning a great many faithful away from their houses of prayer,” said San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone.

“I never expected that the most basic religious freedom, the right to worship — protected so robustly in our Constitution’s First Amendment — would be unjustly repressed by an American government,” he said in an op-ed for The Washington Post. It was posted the evening of Sept. 16 on the daily newspaper’s website.

“But that is exactly what is happening in San Francisco. For months now, the city has limited worship services to just 12 people outdoors. Worship inside our own churches is banned,” he continued.

“The city recently announced it will now allow 50 for outdoor worship, with a goal of permitting indoor services up to a maximum of 25 people by Oct. 1 — less than 1% of the capacity of San Francisco’s St. Mary’s Cathedral.”

“This is not nearly enough to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of Catholics in San Francisco,” he added.

The archbishop’s op-ed came a few days after he issued a memo to all priests of the San Francisco Archdiocese calling on each parish to each gather parishioners to participate in eucharistic processions to U.N. Plaza next to City Hall Sept. 20 “to witness to the city that faith matters.”

Three parishes are each organizing a procession that he said he hopes all parishes will join.

After reaching the plaza, the entire group will process together to the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption for the celebration of multiple outdoor Masses. Participants will be wearing masks and following “proper social distancing,” he added.

In the Sept. 13 memo, he also asked priests to encourage all of their parishioners to go to the website FreeTheMass.com and sign a petition calling on Breed to lift her “unfair restrictions” (over 3,500 people signed it the first week it was posted); and to display prominently at their churches a banner with the motto “We Are Essential: Free the Mass!”

The banners are being made for the processions and afterward they will be available to pastors to display at their churches; 100 banners will be in English, 15 in Spanish and five in Chinese.

In the op-ed, he said: “We Catholics are not indifferent to the very real dangers posed by COVID-19. This is one of the reasons Catholic churches have developed rigorous protocols to protect public health in our facilities.”

“We submitted our safety plans to the city in May along with other faith communities, and while indoor retailers had their plans approved and went into operation, we are still waiting to hear back,” he added.

At the same time, “the scientific evidence from other jurisdictions is clear: These safeguards are working,” he said, adding that out of 1 million Masses celebrated in the U.S. in the past several months, there have been no documented outbreaks of COVID-19 linked to church attendance in churches that follow the protocols.

He noted that as San Francisco churches remain closed, “people can freely go to parks here, as long as they stay six feet apart. If they follow proper social distancing and wear masks, people can eat on an outdoor patio with no hard numerical limit. Indoor shopping malls are already open at 25% capacity.”

“Catholics in San Francisco are increasingly noticing the simple unfairness,” he said. “As one of my parishioners asked recently, ‘Why can I spend three hours indoors shopping for shoes at Nordstrom’s but can’t go to Mass?”

San Francisco’s faithful are not alone in facing such severe restrictions, Archbishop Cordileone said.

He pointed to data from Becket, a Washington-based nonprofit religious liberty law firm, showing that “six states with a combined population of 67 million Americans single out religious worship for unfavorable treatment compared to similar secular activities: California, New Jersey, Maine, Virginia, Connecticut and Nevada.

Catholics bear no “hostility toward government” and “respect legitimate authority,” the archbishop said.

“We recognize that the government has a right to impose reasonable public health rules, just as we recognize its right to issue safety codes for our church buildings,” he said. “But when government asserts authority over the church’s very right to worship, it crosses a line.

“Our fundamental rights do not come from the state. As the authors of our Declaration of Independence put it, they are ‘self-evident,’ that is, they come from God,” he added.

“We want to be partners in protecting the public health, but we cannot accept profoundly harmful and unequal treatment without resisting,” Archbishop Cordileone said.

Bishop’s Annual Appeal pushing to reach goal by end of year

The Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries, which helps fund many of the Diocese of Nashville’s efforts to serve Catholics and the broader community, has flown under the radar for much of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But diocesan officials hope to make a push through the end of the year to reach this year’s goal of raising $3 million.

“It hasn’t gone as we planned,” said Ashley Linville, director of development for the diocese. “We hoped to wrap it up sooner rather than later.

“But if you compare it to last year, it’s not that much different than where we were,” Linville said.

Currently, the Bishop’s Annual Appeal has raised $1.9 million in donations and pledges, which is 63 percent of the $3 million goal.

“A lot of generous people have responded,” Linville said. “Between this point last year and the end of the year we had a lot of people who were extremely generous, and we’re prayerful they will continue to be generous again this year because we have a lot of ground to make up.”

Many donors to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal prefer to make their gift at the end of the year for tax purposes, Linville said. This year, as part of the CARES Act, “there are some big tax benefits for those who make larger gifts,” he noted.

“If anyone has questions about that, I would be happy to talk with them,” Linville said.

The Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries helps fund a wide swath of ministries, including educating seminarians and deacon candidates, the Office of Faith Formation, the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, and the Office of Family Life and Marriage, among others.

The Appeal also provides funding for Catholic Charities of Tennessee and its efforts to serve the vulnerable and needy in the community, which has been particularly important during 2020 with first the tornadoes that hit Middle Tennessee in March and then the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The need is still great because of what we’ve been through in 2020,” Linville said.

Despite the economic uncertainty, the diocese is hoping to build on the success of the previous two years of the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, which set records for money raised. In 2018, the diocese surpassed its goal of $2.5 million by raising $2.6 million. Last year, the diocese raised just above its goal of $2.7 million.

“We’re asking people to give what they can,” Linville said. “We realize there are some who are unable to give right now. We just ask for those who are able to give that they continue so we can support those in need.”

The Appeal also has a goal of just under 7,900 donors. “Even if you can make a small gift, every gift is appreciated, and every gift makes a difference for our ministries,” Linville said.

The diocese will be accepting gifts to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries through the end of 2020, and people have several options for giving.

Donors can make a gift online at dioceseofnashville.com/appeal. They can also make a gift by texting the word “bishop” to 31996. “That will give them a link, and when they click on that link it takes them right to the giving page,” Linville explained.

Gifts can take several forms, including a pledge, a one-time gift, or a monthly gift. If people give online, they can set up an automatic recurring gift, he said.

Gifts can be pledges, cash or through a credit card. Donors can also mail a check, payable to Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries, to the Office of Stewardship and Development, 2800 McGavock Pike, Nashville, TN, 37214.

For more information about the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries, contact Linville at Ashley.linville@dioceseofnashville.com or 615-645-9768, or Anna Beth Godfrey, assistant director of development, at Annabeth.godfrey@dioceseofnashville.com or 615-645-9769.

Diocese participates in national disaster relief efforts

A statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is seen outside of St. Pius X Church in Ragley, La., Sept. 1, 2020, with signs of damage from Hurricane Laura. Archbishop JosÈ H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, requested Sept. 3 that bishops across the country consider taking up a voluntary special collection for the humanitarian, long-term recovery and church needs arising from the increasing number of natural disasters in the United States.
CNS photo/courtesy Father Jeffrey Starkovich, St. Pius X Church

After deadly tornadoes claimed lives and decimated neighborhoods in Middle Tennessee on March 3, 2020, volunteers from near and far quickly jumped in to offer support, in the form of supplies, labor and monetary donations. 

“During our own experience of recovering from natural disaster when tornados moved through our diocese in March, we were so blessed by the incredible outpouring of support from the Catholic community throughout the nation,” Bishop J. Mark Spalding wrote in a message to pastors on Sept. 9. “Now, we have an opportunity to respond to that kindness with charity of our own to those in great need.”

“We received a lot of gifts from other Catholic Charities agencies after the tornado, and now we want to pay it forward,” said Judy Orr, executive director of Catholic Charities of Tennessee. 

To support those in disaster-stricken areas, the U.S. bishops are urging dioceses across the country to take up a special collection, and Catholic Charities agencies will be accepting material and monetary donations to help with recovery efforts. 

As wildfires rage in the western United States, and Gulf Coast residents assess the damage from Hurricane Sally, Catholic Charities of Tennessee is focusing its local relief efforts on assisting those affected by Hurricane Laura, which caused significant damage to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Texas in late August. 

Through Sept. 24, Catholic Charities of Tennessee will be collecting supplies to drive down to Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which is offering direct assistance to residents impacted by Hurricane Laura. 

“COVID has kept relief efforts and volunteers at lower levels and they still need as much help as possible,” said Keith T. King, Catholic Charities of Tennessee’s community relations director.

The Diocese of Nashville’s Youth Office issued a “Chaplains’ Challenge” to encourage students at the two diocesan Catholic high schools, Father Ryan and Pope John Paul II, to donate tarps to relief efforts. 

“Our students in both schools make me proud again and again when they respond positively with simple charity, taking extra time to help someone, even someone miles away,” said Father Andrew Forsythe, chaplain at Pope John Paul II High School. “It’s another mark of the world-changing impact of a good Catholic education that goes beyond the borders of a home, classroom, parish and diocese.”

“I am always surprised by the immediate generosity of our students and their parents,” said Father Mark Simpson, chaplain at Father Ryan High School. “They responded with urgency to the challenge. They truly exceeded my expectations.” 

Father Simpson said that the coronavirus has not hampered the Ryan community’s generosity, and “I am humbled by their desire to serve others.”

The tarps collected by the high school communities will be directed to Catholic Charities for Hurricane Laura relief efforts.

Catholic Charities is still collecting the following items: 

  • Tarps
  • Sanitizer
  • Household cleaners
  • Diapers
  • Baby food
  • Wipes
  • Toilet paper
  • Hygiene products
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Pen and paper
  • File folders
  • Gallon-sized Ziplock bags

Donations will be accepted through Thursday, Sept. 24, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Catholic Pastoral Center, Door #5 (located to the right of the building near the large trailer), 2806 McGavock Pike, Nashville, Tennessee, 37214.

Catholic Charities of Tennessee is also collecting monetary donations from the community to make a cash gift to Catholic Charities of Southwest Louisiana. Please mail checks to the above address or make a donation online.

Catholic Charities is a member of the area Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) group, which follows the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, and Nashville Office of Emergency Management plans for disaster response protocols.

For more information and for updates on donation drop-off sites and volunteer opportunities, follow Catholic Charities’ social media pages.

For more information, contact King at 615-982-2695, or ktking@cctenn.org.

Eastern Rite priest is new director of spiritual care for Ascension Saint Thomas

As a young priest, Father Calin Tamiian wasn’t looking for a ministry as a hospital chaplain. “I was running in the opposite direction from suffering,” he said.

But his life turned when “a brother priest suffering without much hope was able to receive the proper treatment.” While visiting his friend at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, Father Tamiian met some hospital chaplains and watched them at work. “The rest is history,” he said.

That led to a 20-year career in hospital ministry, and this month he began his new job as the Ascension Saint Thomas System Director for Spiritual Care and Clinical Pastoral Education.

Father Tamiian will oversee the pastoral care for the entire Ascension Saint Thomas Health System in Middle Tennessee. “It is a position of support and strategy development,” Father Tamiian said.

Another aspect of the job is integrating the pastoral care education of residents and interns pursuing a ministry as a hospital chaplain, he said.

Being a hospital chaplain is “an amazing opportunity to care for people in some of the most difficult and challenging times,” Father Tamiian said. “The ministry itself is an opportunity to lead the mission of the Church and personally to connect with that healing ministry of Jesus.”

The healing ministry of Jesus has always been important for the Church, Father Tamiian said. He noted that Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne decreed that every cathedral and monastery have a hospital attached to it, and even today 25 percent of all health care services in the world are provided by Catholic institutions.

“The Church has been intentional in that type of ministry to bring hope and healing to the world,” Father Tamiian said.

Today’s Catholic hospitals and health care facilities continue the work of the priests and religious sisters who founded them, Father Tamiian said.

“For us here at Saint Thomas we continue that in the tradition of the Daughters of Charity,” who founded Saint Thomas Hospital in 1898, he said. 

The role of hospital chaplains is constantly developing as they work side-by-side with other health care professionals to address the emotional and spiritual needs of patients, families, and staff, Father Tamiian said.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected large numbers of people and can move quickly from one person to the next, has affected the work of hospital chaplains, Father Tamiian said. Despite the difficulties, he said, “being there for all of them who are affected is important.”

“In the beginning, it was very difficult when we didn’t have enough” personal protective equipment, said Father Tamiian, who was working at a hospital system in Southern California before coming to Saint Thomas.

He has been impressed that at Saint Thomas, with the support of the medical staff, the chaplains have been able to see patients. “They were very much welcome and there side-by-side with the doctors offering support for the patients,” Father Tamiian said.

The chaplains also have been able to support the doctors, nurses and other staff who worry about brining the virus home with them and infecting their families, he added. 

The coronavirus pandemic has emphasized the need for chaplains to support patients’ families, who are often limited in visiting relatives in the hospital, Father Tamiian said. “We all hear the stories that it is very difficult for the families to be at home away from their loved ones.”

In some cases, hospital chaplains have ministered to families who have had more than one relative die from the virus, sometimes only weeks apart, Father Tamiian said.

“That’s the essence of a good chaplain, to not be overwhelmed by the power of death and suffering and keep proclaiming the word in the face of all that.”

Hospital ministry growing in 

Romanian Church

Father Tamiian is a native of Romania and a priest of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church, one of the Eastern Rite Churches in full union with the Roman Catholic Church.

Following World War II, the Communist governments of Romania persecuted the Romanian Greek Catholic Church, confiscating its property, arresting its bishops and many of its priests, and demanding that they convert to the Romanian Orthodox Church.

All the bishops refused, Father Tamiian said. “None of them gave in.”

The Romanian Greek Catholic Church was forced underground and re-emerged publicly after the Communist government was overthrown in the Romanian Revolution in 1989.

“The Church survived because of faithfulness and the role we have of keeping the East and West in dialogue and the belief that we can once again be one Church,” Father Tamiian said.

Father Tamiian started seminary studies in Romania, but then moved to Austria, where in learned English through a program of Franciscan University of Dallas, and France.

He eventually moved to the University of Steubenville, Ohio, where he earned a master’s degree in sacred theology. 

He was ordained in 2002 as a priest for the Romanian Greek Catholic Eparchy of St. George, which is based in Canton, Ohio, and includes all of the United States and Canada. It is the only Romanian Greek Catholic eparchy outside of Romania.

The Romanian Greek Catholic Church, like other Eastern Rite churches, allows priests to marry. Father Tamiian and his wife, Sarah, have four children between the ages of 11 and 21.

Father Tamiian completed four units of clinical pastoral education at the Cleveland Clinic and has served as a Catholic chaplain at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. 

Before arriving in Nashville, Father Tamiian was the manager of the Spiritual Care Department at Dignity Health St. John’s Hospitals in Ventura County, California, another Catholic health system.

He is currently pursuing a doctorate in pastoral theology from Babes-Bolyai University in Romania.

As the Romanian Greek Catholic Church recovers from its past persecution, more of its priests are exploring the ministry of being hospital chaplains, Father Tamiian said. He and other hospital chaplains are working to support and help that growing ministry in Romania and other Eastern European countries.

“I’m happy to know I’m not the only Romanian Catholic priest interested in being a hospital chaplain,” he said.

Ladies of Charity shares food donations with Loaves and Fishes

The Ladies of Charity’s Emergency Assistance Department has been donating 20 food boxes every other week to Loaves and Fishes for distribution to those in need. The donation is in addition to the food boxes the Emergency Assistance Department distributes to its own clients. Barry McCord, welfare coordinator for the Ladies of Charity, looks over some of the boxes that have been prepared for Loaves and Fishes. Photo by Andy Telli

The Ladies of Charity Emergency Assistance Department is partnering with Catholic Charities of Tennessee’s Loaves and Fishes program to distribute boxes of food to those in need.

Fewer Ladies of Charity clients have been able to pick up food boxes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the Ladies started donating 20 boxes every other week to Loaves and Fishes, according to Barry McCord, welfare administrator for Ladies of Charity.

Before the pandemic, Ladies of Charity was handing out about 150 food boxes a month from its offices at 2212 State St. in Nashville. That number has dropped to about 80 per month because many of the clients don’t have the transportation they need to get to the office, McCord explained.

“I deliver when I can,” he said, and he encourages clients to have friends pick up the food boxes if they can’t get to the office themselves. “You’ve got to be very creative.”

Although the number of clients picking up food boxes has gone down, McCord said, “The demand for food has not gone down.”

The food boxes the Ladies of Charity prepare are designed to feed a family of four for a week, McCord said, and clients are eligible to pick up five boxes a year.

The boxes include staples, such as canned vegetables, canned meat, canned soup, peanut butter, frozen meat, milk, bread, cereal and pasta, McCord said.

Most of the food comes from Second Harvest Food Bank; some of it the Ladies of Charity buy from Second Harvest at reduced prices, and some of it is free through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ladies of Charity also receives donations from parochial schools and parishes that hold food drives throughout the year.

The Loaves and Fishes distribution site for the food boxes is located at the Parish Center at Holy Name Church in East Nashville, where the program also provides hot meals to the homeless and needy three days a week.

For information about receiving assistance from the Ladies of Charity, email McCord at barry.loc@bellsouth.net.

Gifts for schools

The Ladies of Charity recently made donations to five Catholic schools.

“We were fortunate enough to have a little extra money,” said Joann Satterfield, treasurer for the Emergency Assistance Department.

The organization sent $3,000 each to St. Patrick School in McEwen, Immaculate Conception School in Clarksville, St. John Vianney School in Gallatin, Sacred Heart School in Loretto and Sacred Heart School in Lawrenceburg.

“They could use it for school lunches, tuition assistance or technology,” Satterfield said.

The Ladies of Charity wanted to help some of the smaller schools in the diocese that are located in the outlying areas, she said. “We were so excited to give the money to the schools.”

Guest editorial: Your generosity makes every grace abundant for needy worldwide

Each year, Catholics in the United States collectively give tens of millions of dollars to national collections that carry out the Gospel call to assist the poor and vulnerable by addressing pastoral and human development challenges impacting people domestically and internationally. 

Our donations show our solidarity, assist people at their most vulnerable and help to evangelize and teach the faith. 

While we also support our local parish and diocese, national collections allow modest gifts to the collection basket to make multi-million-dollar differences on lives and communities here at home and around the world.

Even a seemingly small donation makes a real impact. When you give, you help families who struggle to survive without safe water or who are recovering from a natural disaster. You help mariners who need spiritual support during long months on the high seas. You help people in low-income communities get access to job training and work toward affordable housing and health care that help to alleviate poverty for the long-term. You help people struggling to rebuild their faith after decades of religious persecution.

Like seeds planted in fertile soil, your gifts to our national collections bear fruit and multiply. Recently, one of our Catholic Campaign for Human Development grants went to the Carolina Textile District to renew fabric manufacturing in a socially responsible way. When COVID-19 hit, that organization immediately helped its members convert production lines to make personal protective equipment for health care workers. 

An early shipment went to Cooperative Home Care Associates in the Bronx, a worker-owned agency for home care aides that started in the 1980s with another of our CCHD grants. 

Your national collection gifts have helped home aides make a living for more than a generation and now create fair-wage, environmentally sustainable textile jobs in the USA.

The former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan, located on the border with China, continues to struggle through its transition to a free market democracy. Despite the difficulties and its relative isolation, the Catholics of Kyrgyzstan, although small in number, are growing into a vibrant community, sharing the Gospel with the diverse population that includes Kirgyz, Uzbek, Uygur, Russian, Polish, and German people. Many of them are the descendants of those who were deported to the region by Josef Stalin. 

They are served by seven priests, one religious brother and five religious sisters who minister in parishes, small village chapels and even in private homes. 

With support from the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, the Apostolic Administration of Kyrgyzstan is able to minister to many – not only to parishioners, but also to prisoners and those who are elderly and sick, regardless of ethnicity or religious affiliation. 

Your donations to this collection bring the life-giving Good News of Jesus to people in one of the most remote regions on earth.

We have all felt the bitter impact of COVID-19. Too many have lost jobs and loved ones. With public Mass reductions still in effect in many areas, Catholics long for the comfort of our Lord in the Eucharist. 

As you bear these sorrows, reflect on how the pandemic has shattered our neediest brothers and sisters’ already fragile lives. Imagine yourself in the place of a pregnant woman fleeing ISIS or of a family that risks cholera after a hurricane. Imagine the spiritual blow to a mission parish in the Dakotas, which has no resident priest, cannot afford lay staff and serves a community with high poverty and substance abuse.

Their need for your help has skyrocketed during the pandemic, but donations have plummeted. No one intended that. Good Catholic people lacked access to a collection basket or have lost work. 

This loss to national collections, however, has a devastating impact on real people with great needs. Please prayerfully consider contributing to the collections. Remember Mark 12: 41-44: The tiny gift from a poor widow was far greater in Jesus’ eyes than vast sums from other donors. God measures your gift by your love.

If you cannot attend Mass, you may have national collection envelopes at home that you can mail to your parish. Also, many parishes and dioceses provide opportunities to give to the national collections electronically through e-offertory programs or diocesan websites. 

If you miss your parish collection or wish to give outside of the collection, you may send your donation directly to our office. Visit usccb.org/nationalcollections and look under “resources” for more information.

When we act as one church with one mission, God multiplies our gifts to make many impacts. We have hope, as Scripture assures us “Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor 9:8). 

Please give generously, as you are able, and keep the work funded by the national collections in your prayers.

This editorial was written by Seattle Archbishop Paul D. Etienne, chairman of the Committee on National Collections for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Catholic Charities director teaches custom tailoring at McGruder FRC

Catholic Charities’ Sewing Training Academy Coordinator Trishawna Quincy films Catholic Charities’ Executive Director Judy Orr while she demonstrates a technique for a custom tailoring class she is teaching at the Academy. The class includes a mix of in-person students at the McGruder Family Resource Center and others who followed along through Zoom.

When Judy Orr took the helm as executive director of Catholic Charities of Tennessee in the spring of 2019, one of the first programs she toured was the Sewing Training Academy at the McGruder Family Resource Center. 

“I made a beeline for it,” said Orr, an avid seamstress who previously made her own clothes and restored garments for the Country Music Hall of Fame.

On that first visit to the Academy, she had a casual conversation with the program director, Trishawna Quincy, about possibly teaching a course in the future. Now, Orr is getting that chance, teaching an advanced custom tailoring class to students interested in taking their craft to the next level.  

“It’s been an incredible experience to share my knowledge with this group,” Orr said. “This is my favorite hobby.”

Teaching at the Sewing Training Academy has given Orr the chance for immersive participation in a Catholic Charities program, a rare opportunity for someone in her position. Overseeing the entire Catholic Charities of Tennessee agency, with offers such a wide range of services, Orr doesn’t often have a chance to directly connect with clients this way. 

In class or over Zoom, she said, “we talk about our anxieties of tackling a new project,” as peers, which levels the playing field.  

Teaching the class at McGruder, with a limited number of in-person students and additional students joining the class virtually, has been a new experience for Orr. “People are watching over your shoulder doing a really complicated sewing maneuver,” which can be a challenge, she said, but it’s worth it in the end when everyone shares their finished products.  

The class was learning to make a tailored jacket, which involved a number of difficult techniques, including sewing pockets, a lining, and lapels. 

For the project, Orr drew on her experience from sewing her “masterpiece,” a decade ago, a lavender wool gabardine coat. “It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever made,” she said. 

After she completed that, Orr set aside major sewing projects and went back to school at the University of Tennessee to earn her master’s degree in social work. About three years ago, she finally cut the pattern for a new jacket, but had to set it aside again when she took on a new role at Alive Hospice. 

Catholic Charities Executive Director Judy Orr, an accomplished seamstress, shows off her “masterpiece,” a lavender wool gaberdine coat that she completed in 2009.

By teaching the Sewing Training Academy class, she has been able to “get the rust off” and finally complete that jacket. 

Orr’s love of sewing goes back to her childhood, learning from her German grandmother when she was in middle school. “She taught me the basics, and I took my first lessons between seventh and eighth grade.” When Orr was a college student, she started sewing tailored garments and doing alterations for friends to earn extra money. 

When Orr worked at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum as the director of publications, she began to expand her alterations side gig, and was even recruited to help with restoring some performers’ garments so they could be displayed in the museum. Around that time, she also restored and altered a wedding gown, and sewed custom bridesmaid’s dresses. “That was quite a project,” she said.

For a time, Orr made her own clothes for work, as well as special occasion dresses, including her own mother of the bride dress when her son got married. 

“I’ve always made dresses for fancy events, so I’ve gotten to do some sparkly fun stuff,” she said. 

Since 2015, Catholic Charities’ Sewing Training Academy has been an important part of its workforce development offerings, training sewers to work in Nashville’s burgeoning fashion and apparel industry.

The Academy has also become an incubator for entrepreneurs. After developing sewing skills through these classes, “there is the potential to have a home business on the side,” Orr said. “If childcare is an issue, this is something you can do and stay home with kids,” as she did when she was raising young children.

People who can sew can repair their own clothes, make them last longer and get more wear out of them, Orr noted. “It’s a way to save money, it’s a really valuable skill and a way to be frugal.”