N.J. cardinal asks Catholics to sign petition to Congress on Hyde Amendment

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, N.J., answers questions during a news conference at the fall general assembly of the USCCB in Baltimore Nov. 12, 2019. He has written a letter to the faithful of his diocese asking them to sign a petition asking Congress to keep the Hyde Amendment banning federal funding of abortions. CNS photo/Bob Roller 

NEWARK, N.J. Taxpayer-funded abortion “represents a failure to recognize the sanctity of human life and promotes a culture in which human life in its most vulnerable moment is perceived as disposable,” said Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark. 

A federal budget that “would eliminate” the long-standing bipartisan Hyde Amendment is a proposal that “targets poor women as needing an expedient solution to a complex problem,” he said July 6. 

Cardinal Tobin made the comments in a letter to the faithful of the Newark Archdiocese following moves by President Joe Biden and members of Congress to leave the Hyde Amendment out of spending bills. 

“It is crucially important that we send a strong, clear message that the Hyde Amendment has far-reaching public support and should not be repealed,” Cardinal Tobin said. “Members of Congress need to hear from as many of us as possible.” 

He urged Catholics to go to www.NoTaxpayerAbortion.com and join him in signing this petition before July 16 to send “an urgent message” to Congress to keep the Hyde Amendment. 

The cardinal also pointed Catholics to the “Action Alerts” on the issue posted by the New Jersey Catholic Conference at www.njcatholic.org/protecting-the-hyde-amendment. 

 “I am deeply concerned that the proposed federal budget would eliminate the Hyde Amendment, which, for 45 years, has prohibited the use of federal funds for abortion,” he said. “The Hyde Amendment is credited with saving the lives of millions of children. 

“Now, the powerful pro-abortion lobby and members of Congress are calling for the elimination of this amendment and the implementation of a policy that would designate billions of taxpayer dollars for elective abortions.” 

Hyde first became law in 1976 to prohibit federal funds appropriated through the Labor Department, the Health and Human Services Department and related agencies from being used to cover abortion or fund health plans that cover abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the woman would be endangered. 

Hyde has been reenacted in spending bills every year since it was first passed. 

On May 28, Biden unveiled his proposed budget of $6 trillion for fiscal year 2022 and did not include the Hyde Amendment. His proposal would include spending to improve and modernize the nation’s infrastructure, provide free pre-K and community college, and increase domestic programs aimed at boosting public health and helping the poor. 

Hyde also was excluded in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act that Biden signed into law March 11. The U.S. bishops called its absence “unconscionable.” 

Biden, a Catholic, who for his years in the Senate strongly supported Hyde, now backs repeal of the amendment as does Vice President Kamala Harris. 

“Pope Francis has said, ‘It is troubling to see how simple and convenient it has become for some to deny the existence of a human life as a solution to problems that can and must be solved for both the mother and her unborn child,’” Cardinal Tobin said. The pope “notes that abortion ‘is not a primarily religious issue but one of human ethics.’” 

When Biden released his proposed budget without the Hyde Amendment, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Mercy Sister Mary Haddad, Catholic Health Association’s president and CEO, issued separate statements praising his proposal for a number of provisions to help vulnerable Americans but called it remiss in leaving out Hyde, which protects the most vulnerable – the unborn. 

In recent weeks, 22 attorneys general signed a joint letter to House and Senate leaders asking them to retain the Hyde Amendment in any budget measure that passes. House GOP leaders have urged Congress to make Hyde permanent. 

In the meantime, the House Committee on Appropriations was prepared to mark up two appropriations bills without Hyde-related provisions: the Financial Services and General Government bill, which funds the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, the Executive Office of the President and other federal agencies, including the Small Business Administration; and the State and Foreign Operations bill, which funds the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other international programs and activities. 

Cardinal Dolan: Religious freedom is an ‘essential’ human right

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, presents the keynote address June 28, 2021, during the Religious Liberty Summit at the University of Notre Dame Law School. CNS photo/Peter Ringenberg, courtesy University of Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. Religious freedom is a human right, “essential to the dignity of the human person and the flourishing of all that is noble in us,” Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York said in his keynote address for the Religious Liberty Summit at the University of Notre Dame. 

The summit featured ecumenical leaders and scholars from around the nation to discuss the various challenges to religious liberty. It was held as part of the observance of Religious Freedom Week in the U.S., sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

Defending religious freedom used to be “a nonconfrontational no-brainer,” as American as “mom, apple pie, the flag and Knute Rockne,” noted Cardinal Dolan, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty. 

Now, he continued, defense of religious liberty has become “caricatured” as an “oppressive, partisan, unenlightened, right-wing crusade,” even considered by some to be discrimination. 

This false narrative must be corrected, Cardinal Dolan stressed, and he proceeded to do so by discussing the concept of religious freedom enshrined in the founding documents of the United States. He made four major points in his keynote, titled “Correcting the Narrative.” 

First, he said that we advocate for religious freedom not primarily because we are believers, but because we are “Americans, patriots, rational human beings.” Religious freedom is a fact of the American experiment that has been cherished and defended by people of all faiths. 

Second, religious liberty is not a conservative issue, but historically considered part of a movement that is “progressive and reforming.” Cardinal Dolan, who has a doctorate in American church history, observed that freedom of religion is “the first line of defense of/and protection of all human rights.” 

Further, religious liberty has been “the driving force of almost every enlightening, unshackling, noble cause in American history,” he said, including movements such as abolition of slavery and the campaigns for voting rights and civil rights. 

Third, “religious freedom is enshrined not to protect the government from religion, but religion from the government,” Cardinal Dolan explained. 

The various religious groups who first settled in this country did not want special treatment from the government, but rather just wanted to be left alone to practice their faith, worship in their tradition and follow their consciences in the public square. Thus, freedom for religion became a keystone in the country’s founding documents. 

Fourth, throughout most of our history, American culture welcomed religious voices in the public square, Cardinal Dolan said. Then the culture moved to neutrality before arriving at the present moment, in which believers face “downright antagonism,” he said, and the message that we must leave our conscience behind when we enter the public square. 

Panelists of various faiths who spoke at the conference stressed the necessity for all people of faith to work together to defend and promote religious liberty in this country and abroad. 

In a panel on “Overcoming Polarization of Religious Liberty,” Asma Uddin, a Muslim attorney and scholar, said that people of various faiths have to stop berating each other if believers are to move forward in obtaining and preserving religious freedom. 

The author of “The Politics of Vulnerability: How to Heal Muslim-Christian Relations in a Post-Christian America” (Pegasus Books, 2021), Uddin said that people will feel less threatened if we stop emphasizing our differences and focus on our common status as human beings. 

A panel on “International Threats to Religious Liberty” featured international speakers, including a representative of the Aid to the Church in Need, Marcela Szymanski. She reported that 62 countries present a danger to their citizens when it comes to religious liberty, even though most of those countries have signed the International Treaty on Human Rights. 

Suppressing religious freedom is always part of a “power-grabbing strategy” with no consequences to the perpetrators, she said. 

A panel on “Religious Liberty and the Press” included representatives of the secular media and one Catholic spokesperson. Gretchen Crowe, editorial director for Our Sunday Visitor periodicals, explained that the Catholic press seeks to form and inform its readers to advance the mission of the Church. That can include filling in gaps, correcting misinformation from the secular media, and providing clarity on significant issues, she said. 

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who is a member of the bishops’ religious liberty committee, welcomed participants to the diocese and praised the Notre Dame Law School for establishing the Religious Liberty Initiative. 

That initiative, begun by Dean G. Marcus Cole of the law school, will assemble international scholars to study the issue, train law students to defend religious freedom by pursuing claims in the courts, and organize events like the June summit. Two future summits are planned for Rome in 2022 and Jerusalem in 2023. 

Bishop Rhoades told the conference that not only was the initiative a great service to the Catholic Church and to all communities of faith, but also a service to our nation at a time when not just freedom to worship is threatened, but so too is the freedom to live out our faith and bear witness to its moral truths in social services, schools and other institutions that serve the common good. 

“Religious freedom allows the Church and all religious communities to live out their faith in public and to serve the good of all,” Bishop Rhoades said. 

U.S. bishops vote to draft teaching document on the Eucharist

A priest prepares to distribute Communion during Mass in Washington. CNS photo/Bob Roller

The U.S. bishops approved by a wide margin a plan to draft a document to examine the “meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church” following a lengthy debate during their spring general assembly. 

The action to move forward passed with 168 votes in favor and 55 votes against it. There were six abstentions. 

The results, announced June 18, the final day of the virtual spring assembly, allow the bishops’ Committee on Doctrine to draft the document and present it for discussion when the bishops reconvene in person in November. 

For more than two hours June 17, 43 bishops shared their views on whether such a document was necessary at a time when Catholics are returning to regular Mass attendance as pandemic restrictions ease or if it should even be considered lest it be perceived as fracturing the unity of a Church already faced with numerous challenges. 

The bishops reached no consensus during the discussion. They voted electronically immediately after the second day of the meeting concluded late in the afternoon. 

The proposed document has attracted the interest of not only Catholics but the wider public as the bishops face the situation of the nation’s second Catholic president, Joseph Biden, who regularly attends Mass and who personally opposes abortion while supporting keeping abortion legal. Biden’s election has revived the debate over whether the Eucharist should be denied Catholic politicians who support legalized abortion. 

As expected during the discussion of the proposed document, viewpoints varied among the bishops. 

Most bishops welcomed the idea of strengthening teaching about the Eucharist, especially given that the bishops have embarked on a multiyear National Eucharistic Revival initiative that is part of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2021-2024 strategic plan, “Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope.” 

In a prerecorded presentation, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, chairman of the doctrine committee, reviewed an outline of the document, which would include three parts, subtitled “The Eucharist, A Mystery to be Believed,” “The Eucharist, A Mystery to be Celebrated” and “The Eucharist, A Mystery to be Lived.” 

As proposed, each part includes three topics that would be addressed including, respectively, the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in Communion; unity, beauty and identity as the “fount and apex of the whole Christian life”; and moral transformation, eucharistic consistency and missionary discipleship. 

He said the document was never intended to present national norms for the reception of the Eucharist, but to serve as a teaching tool for Catholics about the reception of holy Communion as a grace-filled gift. 

He said the document was developed in light of the decline in the belief among Catholics in the Real Presence in the Eucharist as well as the long absences from regular Mass attendance, which may have led people to place less significance of the Eucharist in their lives. 

He said the committee wanted to address the “need therefore for a unified and strong revival for the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.” 

During a news conference at the conclusion of the day’s meeting, Bishop Rhoades said that the committee had no plans to develop a statement on the Eucharist despite the conference’s strategic plan until Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB president, asked it to develop a document on “eucharistic consistency” earlier this year. 

He also told reporters that May 7 correspondence from Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, to Archbishop Gomez influenced the committee’s thinking on the document. 

Cardinal Ladaria in his letter urged the U.S. bishops to proceed with caution in their discussions about formulating a national policy “to address the situation of Catholics in public office who support legislation allowing abortion, euthanasia or other moral evils.” 

“We took that (national reference) out even though our intention wasn’t to develop national norms. Our plan wasn’t to go in that direction,” Bishop Rhoades said. 

The third part of the document drew the broadest objections from more than a dozen bishops, who said that it appears to single out a single category of Catholics – those in political life who support keeping abortion legal. 

Bishop Robert M. Coerver of Lubbock, Texas, said he was concerned the document was being developed in time to be used as a political cudgel given that congressional elections are on tap for 2022 with a presidential campaign two years later. 

Other bishops expressed concern that the process to adopt the document appeared to be “rushed.” 

Bishop Rhoades responded during the discussion that the timeline proposed was based on the other factors, including the desire to fall in line with the conference’s strategic plan. 

Bishops who expressed concern about the document said they could support it if the third section was dropped in favor of a text that would stress Catholic theology. 

However, bishops who supported drafting the document said there was no need drop the third section given the importance for all Catholics to discern how they live the teachings each time before they receive the Eucharist. 

They also said they saw no need to delay the document. If the bishops approve the development of a draft document, the committee plans to submit it for the bishops’ next general assembly in November, to be held in person. 

A consensus seemed to develop around a proposal from Bishop Michael W. Warfel of Great Falls-Billings, Montana, who suggested that the bishops convene regional gatherings throughout the summer to discuss the content of the document. 

Bishop Rhoades said such gatherings would be welcomed because they would offer the doctrine committee more input on the content of the document. He added that he did not think it would delay development of the document. 

Several prelates, among them Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, expressed concern that adopting a document at a time when there is division among the bishops would further threaten the unity of the bishops’ conference and the Church overall. 

“We need to spend time, personal time, in candid straight-forward conversation together to strengthen the unity within our conference and with our people before taking the next steps on a statement or plan of action,” he said. 

U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Philadelphia Catholic agency in foster care case

Women pose for a picture near the U.S Supreme Court building in Washington June 17, 2021. In a unanimous decision June 17, the Supreme Court said that a Catholic social service agency should not have been excluded from Philadelphia’s foster care program because it did not accept same-sex couples as foster parents. CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

WASHINGTON. In a unanimous decision June 17, the Supreme Court said that a Catholic social service agency should not have been excluded from Philadelphia’s foster care program because it did not accept same-sex couples as foster parents. 

Although the court said Philadelphia’s anti-discrimination laws put an unfair burden on Philadelphia’s Catholic Social Services, the justices did not issue a sweeping ruling on religious rights or overturn its previous decision involving religious liberty in Employment Division v. Smith. 

Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the opinion in Fulton v. Philadelphia, said the service agency “seeks only an accommodation that will allow it to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with its religious beliefs; it does not seek to impose those beliefs on anyone else.” 

He also said the city’s actions of excluding the agency burdened its “religious exercise by putting it to the choice of curtailing its mission or approving relationships inconsistent with its beliefs.” 

When it heard oral arguments in this case last November, the Supreme Court hinted its willingness to find a compromise in the case that pits the rights of religious groups against state discrimination laws. 

The case centered on Philadelphia’s 2018 exclusion of the foster program of Catholic Social Services of the Philadelphia Archdiocese because of the agency’s policy of not placing children with same-sex couples or unmarried couples because these unions go against Church teaching on traditional marriage. 

A year later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit sided with the city, calling the agency’s policies discriminatory. 

Richard Garnett, law school professor at the University of Notre Dame and director of the university’s Program on Church, State and Society, said the Supreme Court’s ruling will have a significant impact. 

He pointed out that for three decades, the court’s rule has been that religious believers are not entitled to exemptions from general, neutral laws, even when those rules burden religious beliefs and practices.” 

In the foster care case, he said the court “emphasized that regulations which include exemptions and exceptions for some are not ‘neutral’ when they burden religious exercise.”  

Garnett said it was “striking, and telling, that the court’s more liberal justices” joined this decision, which he said points out that “respect for religious freedom should not be a partisan or left-right issue.” 

“All nine justices agree that, when a rule targets religious practices for disapproval, or singles out religious exercise for burdens, it is highly suspect,” he said. “Although a majority of the justices did not go so far as to overrule the Smith decision, the ruling in Fulton will have a major effect on religious-freedom cases going forward.” 

After the Nov. 4 oral arguments for this case, the chairmen of three U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committees said: “Catholics have been called to care for children who have been orphaned, or whose parents face unique difficulties in providing care, since the earliest days of our faith.” They said in a statement they hoped the court would “reject a hollowed-out pluralism that permits people of faith only to preach but not to practice” their beliefs. 

Employment Division v. Smith, a 1990 case which also involved religious beliefs, overshadowed much of the oral arguments in the Fulton case. That case involved two American Indians who were fired and denied unemployment benefits in Oregon for using peyote, a hallucinogenic drug, in a religious ceremony. 

The court ruled in favor of Oregon, saying its right to legislate against drug use superseded a religious group’s right to use a drug as part of a spiritual ritual. The ruling has been interpreted as giving state and local governments broad powers over religious practices. 

In its petition in the Fulton case, Catholic Social Services urged the Supreme Court to overturn the Smith decision, which had been the basis of the lower courts’ rulings against the agency. 

During oral arguments, Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh mentioned more than once that same-sex couples had never been rejected by the Catholic agency because they had not ever approached the agency, and if they had, they would have been referred to another foster agency in the city. 

“We need to find a balance that also respects religious beliefs,” Kavanaugh said. 

Justice Sonia Sotomayor similarly pointed to working out a path forward, asking one of the attorneys siding with the city: “If one wanted to find a compromise in this case, can you suggest one that wouldn’t do real damage to all the various lines of laws that have been implicated here?” 

In a news conference after the arguments, James Amato, executive vice president for Catholic Social Services, said the agency’s work had been more important than ever, particularly during the pandemic. He said its foster care ministry has “been on the sidelines” and the agency needs to know that it can “serve those in need without government restrictions.” 

The foster care program was supported in friend-of-the-court briefs by the USCCB, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and other Catholic Charities agencies. 

During a May 27 online panel discussion about this case sponsored by Faith in Public Life, a Washington-based advocacy group, John Gehring, the group’s Catholic program director, said the foster case is “emblematic of broader national debates over LGBTQ rights and religious liberty that are playing out in the court, legislatures and Christian universities across the country.” 

He said LGBTQ Catholics and their allies were watching this closely and that “most people of faith support non-discrimination policies.” 

Gehring stressed that Catholics and other faith-based groups “provide vital social services but public funding should not be used to discriminate. We can honor the principle of religious liberty and respect the dignity of LGBTQ families without pitting those values against each other.” 

Leslie Griffin, a law professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas who filed a friend-of-the-court brief siding with Philadelphia in this case, said she thought the justices had been taking a long time to issue their opinion because they were “struggling with just how much religious freedom should we say religions get?” 

She said the court’s ruling will impact the legal landscape for LGBTQ rights, noting that if the justices find “there is a First Amendment right to violate anti-discrimination laws, it will significantly restrict the freedom of LGBTQ people in numerous religious institutions – schools, hospitals, nursing homes – and in doing business with the government.” 

Garnett pointed out in a June 17 email that if the government is willing to give exemptions to some groups, it also must give consideration to the claims of religious believers as well. 

 “This ruling will significantly increase legal protections for religious minorities and means that courts will and should look much more closely at rules that impose burdens on sincere religious commitments,” he added. 

Cardinal’s 60 years of priesthood cover volumes of memorable moments

Cardinal Justin Rigali, retired archbishop of Philadelphia, blesses the congregation as he leaves All Saints Catholic Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 2013. The cardinal celebrated the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination April 25, 2021. Now 86, Cardinal Rigali has lived in residence with Knoxville Bishop Richard F. Stika since his 2011 retirement. CNS photo/J. Miles Cary, News Sentinel via The East Tennessee Catholic

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee.  You could say Cardinal Justin Rigali has had an altar seat to Catholic Church history.

From his youth in Los Angeles to assisting at the Second Vatican Council to a stint in Madagascar to serving four popes, and to being the shepherd of the St. Louis and Philadelphia archdioceses, Cardinal Rigali has seen his vocation to the priesthood take him around the globe.

Along the way, there have been volumes of memorable moments.

His ministry has placed him in the presence of such diverse personalities as St. Teresa of Kolkata; President John F. Kennedy’s widow, Jackie Kennedy; renowned Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir; notorious Uganda President Idi Amin; President Ronald Reagan; and prodigious criminal impersonator Frank Abagnale, on whom the hit movie “Catch Me If You Can” is based.

And he watched from Rome alongside St. John Paul II as the Berlin Wall fell Nov. 9, 1989, ushering an end to communism in Eastern Europe and the return of democracy to St. John Paul’s native and beloved Poland.

Through it all, Cardinal Rigali has strived to live his episcopal motto: “Verbum caro factum est” (“The Word Became Flesh”).

He celebrated his 60th anniversary in the priesthood April 25, six days after marking his 86th birthday. Since his retirement as archbishop of Philadelphia in 2011, Cardinal Rigali has been in residence in Knoxville with Bishop Richard F. Stika.

The future cardinal was a student at the Catholic School of the Holy Cross in Los Angeles when the thought of being a priest first came to him.

“I think it was kind of natural once it came up,” he told The East Tennessee Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Knoxville. “Then a priest came in to give a talk to the boys in the graduating class of the grammar school, so it stayed with me.”

After first declining an offer to attend the minor seminary, he changed his mind when he got a second chance. “At the end of eight years of grammar school, I was asked to go into the minor seminary and see what happens. So I did,” he added with a laugh.

Cardinal Rigali grew up in a large family that would see two of his siblings also pursue the priesthood and religious life.

As to others who influenced his vocation, Cardinal Rigali said, “I think you have to give a lot of credit to the grace of God first, because basically it’s the candidate who has to get the thought and find the good and not reject it.”

“Then as time goes on the Holy Spirit gives you the strength to consider and say, ‘Maybe this is something good for me. I like the idea of celebrating Mass. I like the idea of being with the people as a priest in their midst. So that’s what happened,” he said.

The future Cardinal Rigali was ordained a priest April 25, 1961, in Los Angeles by Cardinal James Francis McIntyre, archbishop of L.A., and he served briefly in two parish assignments in and near the City of Angels. But his nearly quarter-century of serving the Vatican would soon begin.

“When I was ordained a priest, every young priest looks forward to his first assignment, and my first assignment was to be in a parish but just for a very limited time because they had decided to send me to Rome,” Cardinal Rigali said. “So I got there, and I was enrolled in canon law studies for three years in Rome.

“At the end of three years, then I was ready to come home and take the job that they were preparing for me, but at that point, however, the Holy See, the Vatican, was looking for U.S. priests, and they asked if they could have me come and study in the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. That’s the school in Rome that prepares young priests to enter into service to the Vatican” as part of its diplomatic corps.

After 12 years in the seminary, he said, “I had two years still in Rome in which I was preparing to serve the Vatican in the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. That was the school that later on I turned out to be the president of.”

“Then I was assigned as a member of the Vatican service,” he added, “and they sent me to the island of Madagascar, and it was a nice place, nice people.”

In the early days of his service to the Vatican, then-Father Rigali saw Vatican II convened by St. John XXIII and continued by St. Paul VI. The future cardinal served as a priest-assistant at the first two sessions of the council.

He recalled that Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who has the title “Venerable” and is moving closer to sainthood, was one of the bishops in his section.

Cardinal Rigali served at the apostolic nunciature in Madagascar from September 1966 to February 1970. Upon his return to Rome, Cardinal Rigali was appointed head of the English-language department of the Vatican Secretariat of State.

“It was at that point that I got to know so many people,” he said. “I certainly have been influenced by the popes I have known.”

One of his jobs after returning was to be the English translator for the popes.

“My first pope that I became the translator for was Pope Paul VI, and Pope Paul VI was a wonderful, wonderful pope, and I was with him sometimes more than once a day,” Cardinal Rigali said. “And then I traveled with Pope Paul VI – I traveled with him to so many different countries, so many different places.”

Pope John Paul I was pope for only 33 days before he died unexpectedly Sept. 28, 1978, at age 65.

“He was a lovely person,” Cardinal Rigali said. “As head of the English-language department, I was brought down with the head of the Spanish department and a couple of other people – we came down to meet the new pope the next day (after he was elected). The new pope had audiences every day. It came one day when he had an audience with the bishops of the United States, and it happened to be the last audience of his life.”

St. John Paul II traveled to 129 countries in his pontificate, and Cardinal Rigali joined him on many of the journeys from 1979 to 1987.

When the vocation seed was planted in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles over 75 years ago, a young Justin Rigali could never have thought that his priesthood would be so multifaceted.

Cardinal Rigali credits Father James Hansen, a parish priest, for planting the idea of the priesthood during grammar school.

“Perhaps I even had some inkling even earlier, but I know that in the grammar school I was asked if I had ever thought of that, and I said yes. That’s what I remember, and the rest is history.”

Dan McWilliams is assistant editor of The East Tennessee Catholic, newspaper of the Diocese of Knoxville.

Editorial: The fight to preserve and protect life from birth to natural death continues with several recent developments.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. CNS photo/Andrew Kelly, Reuters

The fight to preserve and protect life from birth to natural death continues with several recent developments.

First, the acting head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that the agency will not enforce a requirement that the abortion drug mifepristone, sold as Mifeprex and also known as RU-486, must be prescribed after an in-person meeting between a woman and a health care professional. As long as the federal declaration of a public health emergency for COVID-19 remains in place, women will be able to purchase the drug online.

As pro-life advocates have noted, that might be good for the abortion industry but is dangerous for women. “An in-person visit is medically necessary and sound medical practice because it ensures that every woman receives a full evaluation for any contraindications to a medication abortion,” Dr. Christina Francis, chair of the American Association of Pro-Life OB/GYNs, said in a statement after the FDA’s decision was announced. 

Women have died from complications after taking the abortion drug even with an in-person visit. The likelihood is that more deaths, including those of the unborn, will follow the FDA’s decision.

It is not unreasonable or an assault on women’s rights to require that every step to protect their health be followed. To do otherwise is an assault on human life and as such does a disservice to the country as a whole and to women in particular.

On another front, the U.S. Supreme Court has announced that it will hear arguments on the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Many pro-life advocates are hopeful the Supreme Court will use the case to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion on demand.

Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, noting that 70 percent of Americans believe abortion should be limited to the first three months of pregnancy, said in a statement, “States should be allowed to craft laws that are in line with both public opinion on this issue as well as basic human compassion, instead of the extreme policy that Roe imposed.”

When Mississippi first passed the law, the state’s Catholic bishops applauded the decision. “(We) wish to reaffirm the sacredness of human life from conception until natural death,” they said in a statement at the time. “With Pope St. John Paul II, we recognize abortion as ‘a most serious wound inflicted on society and its culture by the very people who ought to be society’s promoters and defenders.’”

In 2020, the Jackson and Biloxi dioceses filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s petition to the Supreme Court asking it to review the 5th Circuit’s ruling prohibiting the state from enforcing the law. The high court should clarify current law on abortion “in light of a state’s interests in protecting the sanctity of life,” the dioceses’ brief said.

The Catholic Church has long opposed abortion as an attack on the dignity of human life, an attack that degrades the value our society places on not only the lives of those still developing in their mother’s womb, but all lives no matter their condition or station. God instills an inherent value in the life of every person, the poor, the ill, the elderly, the vulnerable, the marginalized, even the repugnant.

And the Church recognizes that in defending the life of the unborn, we cannot abandon the mother. That is why, through agencies like Catholic Charities and other ministries, we try to help women in the midst of a crisis pregnancy find the support they need that will allow them to affirm the value of their life and the life of their child.

Society does not have to settle for an either/or choice between serving the mother or the child. In fact, that kind of thinking is the exact wrong approach to the challenges facing our nation. We must accompany mother AND child.

In a recent letter to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops president concerning a proposal for the U.S. bishops to develop a national policy regarding giving the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, warned that it would be “misleading” to present abortion and euthanasia as “the only grave matters of Catholic moral and social teaching that demand the fullest level of accountability on the part of Catholics.”

The Church and her teachings have much to offer the faithful and the broader society as it decerns the morality of a whole host of issues. The thread that weaves through them all is the sanctity of life that comes from God, our creator.

We pray that humanity will recognize all life as a gift from God and treat it with the reverence it deserves.

Community still feels impact of Floyd’s murder, related events a year later

Electric and LED candles bearing the names of people killed by police illuminate the fist sculpture at the George Floyd Square in Minneapolis on May 25, 2021, the one-year anniversary of his death while in police custody. CNS photo/Nicholas Pfosi, Reuters

ST. PAUL, Minn. Lift each other up in the midst of trauma, poverty and injustice.

That’s the simple but profound advice from Michael Goar as he works through the anxiety and sorrow of clients and employees at the organization he leads, Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, during the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact one year ago of the police-involved death of George Floyd.

Many employees of Catholic Charities, and many of the people the organization helps, are Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American, said Goar, president and CEO of the largest social services organization in the Twin Cities, with more than 500 employees serving 23,000 men, women, children and families each year.

For them, the police-involved death of Floyd, an African American, May 25, 2020, and the subsequent trial and second-degree murder conviction this April of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who is white, was particularly traumatic, said Goar, who is Black and South Korean.

Last summer, protests focused on racial justice and police reform followed Floyd’s death in the Twin Cities and around the country. Rioting also broke out in St. Paul and Minneapolis and other U.S. cities.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune daily newspaper estimates that more than 1,500 locations were damaged in the Twin Cities, with dozens of buildings burned down.

Chauvin’s trial drew national attention. Police and Minnesota National Guard troops were poised for rioting after Chauvin’s conviction, but verdict-related violence did not materialize.

“They lived this trauma in the course of the trial,” Goar said, speaking of the people Catholic Charities serves.

Floyd died after being restrained by four police officers; Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes.

Besides being convicted for second-degree murder, Chauvin also was found guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter April 20, but has yet been sentenced.

The other three former officers, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao, face trial Aug. 23 for charges alleging they aided and abetted second-degree murder and manslaughter.

All four men also face federal charges.

“The issue of racial reckoning has a tremendous impact on a personal level, not just an institutional level,” Goar said in a May 18 interview with The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

He doesn’t leave himself out.

“One thing I recall, when I first saw Mr. Floyd’s death at the hands of Mr. Chauvin, I felt like that could have been me,” said Goar, who was born in South Korea, adopted at age 12 and raised in south Minneapolis.

“I don’t have a stamp on my forehead that I’m CEO of Catholic Charities. I am a Black man in our community,” he said.

When Chauvin’s trial began in late March, managers were invited to twice-weekly virtual “huddles” to discuss their feelings, needs and the needs of those they work with. A trained facilitator from Catholic Charities’ staff played host and discussions were wide ranging, Goar said.

Held online to help prevent spread of COVID-19, meetings are now offered once a week.

“It helps people to process out loud, express feelings and insights, emotions of hopelessness, sadness and joy,” Goar said. “It allowed us to create a healing community.”

Using trained facilitators, any business, parish or school can offer similar services and support, he said.

Goar, 55, took the helm at Catholic Charities in January, after nearly five years of leading youth mentoring organization Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities and serving in public education before that.

The COVID-19 pandemic and Floyd’s death have been particularly hard on youth, who haven’t developed the coping skills of an adult, Goar said.

School campuses were closed for months last year during the pandemic, limiting youths’ ability to seek counseling or other assistance if they needed it, he said.

Recent violence making headlines in Minneapolis reflects some of the trauma being felt, Goar said. Three young children were struck by stray bullets in the course of two weeks in Minneapolis and one died.

So far this year, the city has had more than two dozen homicides, nearly double the number at the same time last year.

“It’s profoundly impacting our youth,” Goar said of the pandemic, Floyd’s death and the protests and riots that followed in the Twin Cities and around the country. “Young people don’t have the tools and skills to debrief and talk it over. On top of that, you have single parents, food insecurity, homelessness.

“Who will they process with? Who will they talk to? We are witnessing young people disengaging from community norms and engaging in destructive behavior.”

Catholic Charities has a child care center and programs that assist young families and homeless youth 16 and older, Goar said. “Where possible, where we engage, we are very aware” of the difficult environment, he said.

Statistics show that homelessness and a lack of affordable housing disproportionately impact people of color, Goar said. Blacks are incarcerated at a higher rate than whites, and Minnesota is last among the 50 states for people of color graduating from high school, he said.

A 12-member volunteer committee at Catholic Charities has helped lead efforts in the organization to promote greater equity and diversity, Goar said.

In light of Floyd’s death and the broad discussions about race and racism it has evoked, Goar said he hopes to find room in the budget for a director of racial equity and diversity who can help employees grow still more aware, sensitive and just in their dealings with one another and those seeking assistance.

All Catholics need to be aware of racial injustice where it exists and the issues of equity and diversity, and the shepherds of the Catholic Church have a critical role in talking to the faithful about this, said the pastor of a historically Black parish in St. Paul.

“That is the purpose for shepherds, to preach the Gospel,” said Father Erich Rutten, pastor of St. Peter Claver, “and to call out injustice, to call out evil when we see it. … If 50 years from now, if they’re looking back and all they see was a silent church, it’s just a great scandal.”

Father Rutten made his remarks during his appearance on the new “Gloria Purvis Podcast” from America Media. Purvis, who is Black, is a radio personality and Catholic commentator.

During the podcast, Father Rutten and Purvis discussed issues related to Floyd’s murder.

The priest recalled seeing the video of Floyd’s death, calling it egregious and traumatizing. He said the parish quickly put together a video “just to try to speak out.” Father Rutten said he wanted to send a message to encourage “our community to hang on and hold onto each other.”

Purvis said Catholics need to talk about racial justice and she’s praying the clergy can help awaken the consciences of people “who are asleep on this.”

As shepherds, Catholic bishops and pastors, she said, have to do the work of helping the sheep recognize there’s a real presence of evil and help them recognize the structures of sin in the U.S.

The universal Church needs to be exactly that – a universal church, Father Rutten said. “And really, if we have the heart of Christ, that means to reach out specifically to those who are on the margins.”

“And if we’re missing that, that’s not just a feel-good thing,” he added. “That’s a core element of the Gospel. And I think that would change the conversation about race.”

Joe Ruff is news editor of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Staff writer Barb Umberger contributed to this story.

Brood X cicadas don’t bug this Ohio Catholic university cicada expert

Gene Kritsky, dean of the School of Behavioral & Natural Sciences at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati, examines cicadas in this undated photo. CNS photo/Gene Kritsky, Mount St. Joseph University

WASHINGTON. That loud buzzing and clicking sound across 15 states, including Tennessee, and the District of Columbia this spring – from the emergence of billions of Brood X cicadas – is music to the ears of a Catholic university professor and entomologist.

Gene Kritsky, described as the Indiana Jones of the cicada world, is the dean of behavioral and natural sciences and a biology professor at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati.

As a cicada guru, it would seem he knows all there is to know about these creatures that began tunneling their way out of the ground – on his watch as of May 18 – but he wants to learn more and he wants the public’s help.

He has written a book specifically about Brood X – pronounced “brood 10” because the cicada broods are labeled by Roman numerals – and has written numerous academic articles on cicadas and given more interviews on the 17-year reappearing bugs than he can count.

This is a Brood X “Cicada Safari” smartphone app where users can submit photos and videos of cicadas for tracking and mapping purposes. CNS photo/Gene Kritsky, Mount St. Joseph University

Kritsky, who began teaching at Mount St. Joseph in 1983, is currently the longest serving faculty member at the university. And although he knows a lot about bugs, and cicadas in particular, he wants to gather all the information he can about the creatures who will be around for only about six weeks.

To do this, he is enlisting the general public’s help in mapping and tracking Brood X with an app he developed with the help of the university’s IT team called cicada safari. As of May 19, more than 136,000 had downloaded the app, and that was just at the edge of the cicadas’ emergence. App users are encouraged to send in photos or videos of cicadas, which will help determine their locations and overall status.

“This is true citizen science,” he said.

It’s akin to the help he sought from the public in 1987 when he set up a hotline for people to call in their cicada observations and got so many messages it broke his answering machine. In 2004, his email inbox filled with cicada reports, but this year with smartphones and GPS, it’s a whole new ballgame.

Kritsky first started tracking cicadas in 1976 when he was in graduate school – Brood XXIII.

He collected fossils and insects as a kid. When he was a teenager, he met the well-known anthropologist Margaret Mead at a lecture and took to heart the advice she gave him: to write and take pictures for the public.

He has written a lot about cicadas and his other love, bees, and has taken plenty of photographs. Currently, he is a cicada ambassador of sorts for a nation that is not sure what to make of these creatures with the loud male mating songs and the exoskeletons of males and females that crunch underfoot.

He is not alone in his expertise, noting that there are a “handful of us” who write and teach about cicadas. “We’re all good friends. We all overlap in our love of cicadas.”

He spoke to Catholic News Service May 19 after spending the morning at a local high school, talking about cicadas (which he doesn’t do often but it was for a friend) and between other interviews. All the time spent talking about these winged, red-eyed creatures could get draining, but he does not give that impression.

“I’m a teacher at heart. I’ve been teaching almost 41 years now,” he said, calling the current fascination with cicadas “a teaching moment to get people interested in bug history, natural history and culture” – a crossover he finds fascinating.

He describes this current batch of Brood X cicadas as the great grandkids to the first group of this brood he studied 34 years ago.

He also likes to point out that this particular brood made its first known appearance in Philadelphia in 1715 at the Gloria Dei Swedish Lutheran Church, which is now an Episcopal church. The pastor at the time wrote an entry in his journal describing these bugs.

Kritsky hopes some people get to that church this year in tribute to what he called the Brood X mothership.

And if that’s the mothership, then the campus of Mount St. Joseph, founded by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, is almost the Cicada Hall of Fame. There are cicadas all over campus, Kritsky said, not talking about the emerging bugs but artwork, huge photographs and a mural. On April Fool’s Day this year, he and other school officials claimed they were making the cicada the school mascot, replacing the lion.

Attention to the university’s cicada study goes along with the school’s mission to be a beacon, Kritsky said. Although he is not Catholic, he said the focus on cicadas’ existence being threatened by destruction of forests goes right along with what Pope Francis talks about in his emphasis on care for the environment.

Currently, some cicada broods are going extinct, he said, noting that there are now 15 different broods: 12 which appear every 17 years and three which appear every 13 years. Some years these overlap, which is expected in 2024 after two years of no cicadas emerging.

The 2022-2023 window is when Kritsky might get to take a vacation with his wife of 20 years, who also shares his love for bugs and designs silver insect jewelry.

This year, as part of the cicada buzz, some people are talking about eating these bugs, saying they taste like shrimp or asparagus. Kritsky, who tried one in 1987, won’t do that again because as he put it: “They are slightly endangered and I got tenure because of cicadas.”

Not everyone shares his cicada love, but he encourages those who live in the region where these bugs will appear to go out and observe them, especially at night with a flashlight.

They don’t sting or bite and they are not locusts, which are grasshoppers, he said.

He also finds something comforting in the cicadas 17-year predictability, especially this year.

“We don’t know when the pandemic will end,” he said, “but we know when Brood X will appear.”

 Editor’s Note: More information can be found at cicadasafari.org.

High court to hear major abortion case from Mississippi in its next term

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington May 11, 2021. CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

WASHINGTON. The U.S. Supreme Court said in a May 17 order that it will hear oral arguments during its next term on a 2018 Mississippi abortion law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The case is Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The court’s term opens in October and a decision is expected by June 2022.

Just after then-Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the law March 19, 2018, a federal judge blocked it temporarily from taking effect after the state’s only abortion clinic filed suit, saying it is unconstitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the block on the law.

In commending Bryant for his signature, the state’s Catholic bishops, Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson and Bishop Louis F. Kihneman III of Biloxi, said: “(We) wish to reaffirm the sacredness of human life from conception until natural death. With Pope St. John Paul II, we recognize abortion as ‘a most serious wound inflicted on society and its culture by the very people who ought to be society’s promoters and defenders.’”

In 2020, the Jackson and Biloxi dioceses filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s petition to the Supreme Court asking it to review the 5th Circuit’s ruling prohibiting the state from enforcing the law.

The high court should clarify current law on abortion “in light of a state’s interests in protecting the sanctity of life,” the dioceses’ brief said.

A number of states have passed laws restricting abortion that have been challenged in court by supporters of legal abortion. Pro-life advocates have been hoping one or more of those laws would be taken up by the Supreme Court as a way to challenge 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

The Mississippi case will be the first abortion case the court will consider since the Oct. 26, 2020, confirmation of now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s third pick for the court. His first two picks, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, were on the court when it took up its first major abortion decision since they were confirmed.

That case involved a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.

The court struck it down as unconstitutional in a 5-4 ruling. Chief Justice John Roberts joined Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in knocking down the law. Kavanaugh and Gorsuch joined Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas in upholding the law.

The upcoming Mississippi case – it has been on the Supreme Court’s docket as a potential case since last fall – will examine the question of viability, specifically if a fetus can survive on its own at 15 weeks.

Pro-life advocates were pleased with the court’s decision to take this case.

“We applaud the U.S. Supreme Court for examining the Mississippi law,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, who stressed that so much more is known now about viability with advanced technology.

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League based in Chicago, said many activists see this as “an opportunity for the high court to overturn Roe v. Wade” or at the very least to “bring abortion policy in the United States in line with the rest of the world, where abortion is strictly limited after 12-15 weeks.”

Similarly, Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, said the United States “is one of only seven countries – including China and North Korea – that allows abortions through all nine months of pregnancy.”

“An overwhelming majority of Americans agree that this goes way too far,” she said. “In fact 70 percent think abortion should be limited to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy.”

In a May 17 statement she added: “States should be allowed to craft laws that are in line with both public opinion on this issue as well as basic human compassion, instead of the extreme policy that Roe imposed.”

Thomas Olp, vice president and senior counsel for the Thomas More Society, a nonprofit national public interest law firm, said his firm, on behalf of Illinois Right to Life, has “argued against the now long-outdated science behind Roe v. Wade and urged the court to uphold the subsequent 14th Amendment rights due the preborn.”

Activists were not the only ones to respond in favor of the court taking the case.

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, chair of the new Senate pro-life caucus, tweeted May 17 that he was encouraged the court decided to hear it.

“There is no constitutional right to abortion, yet for nearly 50 years since Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, more than 62 million children have been the tragic victims of abortion. It is long past time for the Supreme Court to right this wrong,” he said.

O. Carter Snead, law school professor at the University of Notre Dame, said the court agreeing to take this case “signals the possibility that it may finally end its failed and constitutionally unjustified experiment as the nation’s ad hoc abortion regulatory body of last resort.”

He said the court’s “tortured reading of the Constitution has undermined the rule of law, broken our electoral politics and resulted in a staggering number of lives lost. It is time once and for all for the Supreme Court to return to its role as faithful interpreter of the Constitution and to repair the damage it caused years ago.”

Kentucky group provides rosary-making supplies locally, globally

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (CNS) — From a low brick building on a commercial stretch of highway in Louisville, Our Lady’s Rosary Makers packages enough beads and other supplies to make 6.5 million rosaries each year.

The lay apostolate was born of Xaverian Brother Sylvan Mattingly’s desire in 1949 to do something special for the Blessed Virgin Mary, said Michael Ford, who serves as its general manager.

Seven decades later, the apostolate is still providing millions of rosary-making supplies at a low cost to groups of rosary makers locally, nationally and globally.

It started as a grassroots effort by Brother Mattingly, who would make rosaries and teach others to make rosaries to send to missionaries around the world. Brother Mattingly died in 1951, but his mission “took root,” said Ford.

The endeavor, as it continues today, is a local one.

Advantage Plastics and Engineering molds each of the plastic components of the rosaries — beads, crucifixes and centerpieces.

A worker at Our Lady’s Rosary Makers in Louisville, Ky., assembles a rosary in between calls with customers May 6, 2021. The group provides low-cost rosary supplies to Catholics across the country with the goal of providing tools for evangelization. CNS photo/Katie Rutter

Once the pieces arrive at the Rosary Makers facility, workers spend their days operating machinery that seals the pieces into plastic bags. Each packet contains enough materials to make 10 rosaries — beads, cording, crucifixes and center pieces. Finally, workers fulfill orders — packaging and preparing them for shipping.

Ford said he saw an uptick in orders for rosary supplies in the 1990s that didn’t really wane until the pandemic brought everyday life to a halt.

In 2020, the apostolate shipped supplies to make about 5 million rosaries, said Ford, noting that “people were not able to gather in rosary-making groups.”

But he also believes the rosary-making supplies sent during the pandemic helped individuals find some “purpose and something to occupy their time in a good way” during the months of isolation.

The apostolate received a letter of thanks from a woman in New Jersey for the supplies she’d received. She was able to drop off supplies to the home of elderly rosary makers who had no connection to the outside world during the state’s 100 days of lockdown, Ford said. The letter noted that the isolation “may have destroyed” the women had they not had rosary-making to keep them connected to their faith.

Over the years, Our Lady’s Rosary Makers has shipped supplies near and far and Ford and his staff have heard from several individuals about the impact their efforts have had. Ford said he realized the far-reaching impact of Our Lady’s Rosary Makers a few years ago when a woman visiting from the Philippines stopped by to see the facility.

“It blew my mind,” Ford told The Record, archdiocesan newspaper of Louisville.

The letters sent from priests, religious sisters and grateful individuals have also shown the impact the apostolate has had around the world.

“We’ve heard from priests in missions who’ve said the rosary has done more than anything else to bring people back to the church. That sticks in my mind,” he said.

Chuck Mitchell, the group’s mission director, said the letters of appreciation he receives, are a highlight of his service. While the apostolate provides rosary-making supplies, Mitchell’s office is dedicated to fulfilling requests for rosaries that are already made. They are needed in missions as far away as Pakistan, India and Africa.

Rosary makers across the country — elderly individuals in nursing homes and parish groups, for instance — are dedicated to making rosaries for these missions. Mitchell said he sends about 100,000 of these rosaries abroad each year.

In many instances, they are given to children receiving their first Communion or being confirmed, he noted. Some of the religious sisters from India he’s heard from travel to villages teaching children how to pray the rosary.

A thank-you letter written by Mother Teresa is seen at Our Lady’s Rosary Makers in Louisville, Ky., May 6, 2021. The group had sent rosaries to the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta to be used in their evangelization work, and continues to supply tens of thousands of rosaries each year to missions around the world. CNS photo/Katie Rutter

People in India are particularly grateful for rosaries right now, because of the toll the pandemic has taken in that country, he said. He’s heard from priests who fear the lockdown in that country may lead to a rise in unemployment and hunger.

“The rosaries mean more to them now,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell’s office also sends materials such as prayer cards and guides to the sacraments in English, Spanish and French along with the rosaries.

The rosary isn’t only what the apostolate produces, it’s also an important part of their lives, added Ford.

From a “faith and family tradition” it was always part of his life, he noted, and it’s taken on an even deeper meaning over the years as he serves at Our Lady’s Rosary Makers.

“It’s a prayer for a child, it’s a prayer for an adult, it’s a prayer for any and all times. … The rosary is something you can pick up — from under your pillow at night to when you’re driving or while you are walking or sitting,” said Ford.

He prays the rosary daily with the 10 employees on staff.

Each morning at around 10, Ford rings a bell that tells them it’s time to gather to pray the rosary. The facility’s chapel has ceiling to floor windows that provide a view of an outdoor grotto housing a life-size image of the Blessed Mother. In the chapel, the business of the day slows and Ford leads workers in the rosary.

The chapel is also open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day and offers exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Friday afternoons.

To learn more about Our Lady’s Rosary Makers https://www.olrm.org/.

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Thomas is a staff writer at The Record, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Louisville.