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Faith In Brooklyn for May 19

May 26, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Msgr. Kieran Harrington, Bishop DiMarzio and Tablet news director Ed Wilkinson enjoy a jovial moment during the live taping of “In The Arena.”
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Upcoming Papal Visit Was Focus of Diocesan Communications Day

Pope Francis Hailed Not as ‘Liberal’ or ‘Conservative,’ but as a Radical Catholic Reformer

Pope Francis, the Italian-Argentinian who has won the hearts of Catholics and followers of other faiths, is still a controversial figure. Is he a liberal because of his stance of mercy toward the poor? Or is he a conservative? Neither, says Austen Ivereigh, Ph.D., who was the keynote speaker at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn’s World Communications Day on May 13. Ivereigh states that Pope Francis is a radical, using the original meaning of this word: “root.”

The 24th World Commun-ications Day, held at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, focused on the upcoming September 2015 papal visit to Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia. The theme was “Communicating the Family: A Privileged Place of Encounter with the Gift of Love.”

Monsignor Kieran Harring-ton, the Diocese of Brooklyn’s vicar for communications, wrote that a goal of this year’s conference was to “inspire new ways of communicating the Gospel as we prepare for Pope Francis’ first pastoral visit to the United States.”

The keynote speaker, Dr. Ivereigh, is author of “The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope.”

Dr. Ivereigh received the diocese’s St. Francis de Sales Distinguished Communicator Award.

During his keynote address, Dr. Ivereigh emphasized that mercy and love are the central part of Pope Francis’ ministry and mission. Using a slideshow, he sought to clarify this pontiff’s vision.

During a pre-conference press interview, Dr. Ivereigh also previewed many of his points. He called Pope Francis a “radical in the Catholic tradition of radical reformer.”

He said, “In a society like contemporary American or contemporary European society, where everyone has their own narrative, the church relies too much on the clarity of its own doctrine. But, by embodying God’s love and mercy, he [Pope Francis] can break out of that cycle, break through and break out, and reach people who are moved at a very unconscious level, by some of his words and actions.”

Replying to a reporter’s question, Dr. Ivereigh said that Pope Francis “is a radical in the tradition of church reformers who seek to recover the essence of Christianity, which is to present the Gospel in a way that is not tied up with wealth and power and status. He’s a radical because he goes to the root — that’s what [the word] radical means, restoring the primacy of the proclamation of God’s love as the essential message of the Gospel — the revelation of mercy and love. He puts that first, before anything else. He makes sure people know that and experience it.”

Dr. Ivereigh pointed out, “He’s not a liberal because he’s not seeking to liberalize church doctrine. He’s not seeking to make church doctrine acceptable to modern society. He’s not seeking to dilute church doctrine in any way. So, therefore, he’s not a liberal. He’s a reformer and he’s a radical. He’s a change agent. He’s seeking to bring about a transformation … But, actually, that transformation is in keeping with the tradition of radical Catholic reformers — St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine of Siena — and all the great church reformers of the past. In a way, all Catholic reformers are about restoring what has been pushed to the sidelines. He acknowledges this happens because the Church is part of the world.”

He continued, “I think he will challenge almost everybody; there’s plenty of scope for him to offend almost everybody. One thing about the pope, which always strikes me as I study his life, is that he’s perfectly willing to cause offense. He’s willing to give it out when he thinks it’s necessary to be said. I expect a robust address to Congress.”

Another panel discussion focused on “Vatican Insiders: Covering Pope Francis.” David Gibson, a reporter for the Religion News Service and co-author of “Finding Jesus,” and John Thavis, reporter and author of “The Vatican Diaries,” then joined Dr. Ivereigh for a panel discussion on their adventures covering papal visits, including being part of Vatican delegations that were then refused admittance by UN officials who may not have been properly briefed.

Another highlight of the World Communications Day Conference was the live recording of the popular Catholic NET-TV program “In the Arena,” in which the audience was also given the chance to ask questions.

The first portion of “In the Arena” featured host Msgr. Harrington, Ed Wilkinson — news director of the diocesan DeSales Media group — and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. The second portion brought in Grant Gallicho, associate editor of Commonweal magazine. They spoke about the centrality of the family as a remedy to poverty, particularly the traditional family model of a “maternal figure” and a “paternal figure.”

The closing panel brought in Angela Flood of the Washington Archdiocese, Douglas Clemmer of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Joseph Zwilling of the Archdiocese of New York, all of whom are spokespersons for their areas. A scheduled fourth panelist, Kenneth Gavin of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was prevented from attending because of the Amtrak derailment tragedy and resulting suspension of service.

With the Diocese of Brooklyn’s spokeperson, Stefanie Gutierrez, moderating, the panelists gave an overview of Pope Francis’ schedule in the United States this September, according to what the Vatican has disclosed as of this time. Pope Francis will address the Joint Houses of Congress in Washington. He will address the United Nations in New York and celebrate mass at a venue to be determined. He will conclude his trip in Philadelphia.

Past recipients of the St. Francis de Sales Distinguished Communicator Award have included Rich Lamb of WCBS-AM Radio, Dr. William F. Baker of WNET-TV (Public Broadcasting Service), Religion News Service journalist David Gibson, Joseph Zwilling of the Archdiocese of New York and film producer Pablo José Barroso. Last year’s honoree, The Most Rev. Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, spoke on the growing importance of social media in evangelization.


Catholic Priests, Seminarians Will Bike 1,400 Miles to Promote Priestly Vocations

Priests from the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre will join seminarians from these areas and the Archdiocese of New York for a 29-day, 1,400-mile journey to raise awareness of the need for vocations to the priesthood.

Their journey will begin in Florida and they will pass through New York City before concluding in Rockville Centre in Nassau County. They will pass through 15 dioceses/archdioceses, including a stop at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights, before ending at the Cathedral of St. Agnes in Rockville Centre.

Father Marc Swartvagher, a Brooklyn-based priest who serves as academic dean for Cathedral Seminary House of Formation in Douglaston, will be biking with Father Joseph Fitzgerald, director of vocations for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, who was also a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic handball team.

They will be joined by seminarians (men studying to become Catholic priests) Dominik Wegiel from the Diocese of Brooklyn, Stephen Rooney from the Diocese of Rockville Centre and Steven Diaz from the Archdiocese of New York.

Passing through 11 states, 10 dioceses and five archdioceses, the biking pilgrimage will begin on May 17 in Saint Augustine, Fla., and conclude on June 14, a week prior to the ordination of priests at the Cathedral of Saint Agnes in Rockville Centre. Information on their stop at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in the Diocese of Brooklyn will be made available in the coming weeks.

“Many people are asking why we are biking up the East Coast when we could just drive,” said Fr. Swartvagher. “We believe there is something unique about the physical and sacrificial element of biking to our pilgrimage. Our mission is one with physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions. We feel strongly about our task to promote vocations, and we truly intend to give our all, including physically, to this journey.”

The bike journey will have a spiritual component, too. Priests and seminarians have a commitment to pray the Liturgy of the Hours five times a day. The team will make periodic stops en route in order to pray.

Those wishing to find out more and to follow the Biking 4 Vocations team on their journey can visit There will be daily updates and GPS tracking and the site will also contain up-to-date information on welcoming events in each diocese they bike through. The team will cover a range of 13 to 85 miles each day, depending on conditions.


St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church’s ‘Sandwich Sundays’ Program Celebrates Second Year

Saint Ann & the Holy Trinity parish will soon celebrate the second anniversary of Sandwich Sundays, which began as a Lenten outreach and gained too much momentum to be stopped!

Since February 2013, the Outreach Committee of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity and their team of volunteers have made and delivered between 40 and 120 sandwiches every single Sunday. That totals more than 4,000 sandwiches so far.

Following the church’s two Sunday morning services on June 7 — first at 10:15 a.m. and again at 12:30 p.m. — parishioners will form an assembly line of sandwich makers in the Parish Hall. Participants are asked to bring a donation of sliced bread, sliced cheese, or cold cuts. Or they can help make or label sandwiches. The sandwiches made that day will be delivered, as usual, to the guests of the Gathering Place, a drop-in center program of CAMBA in East Brooklyn that serves the homeless and working poor.


Milestones in Faith: Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral at 102

Sts. Constantine & Helen church had its origins when a small group of Greeks decided to organize the first Greek Orthodox community in Brooklyn during the spring of 1913. By August of the same year, they started holding services in a small church on Johnson and Lawrence streets. Combining their resources and collecting donations from all parts of the United States, ranging from a few pennies to $100, these founders acquired the property on which the present church building sits on Schermerhorn Street, just east of Court Street. On April 16, 1916, the cornerstone of the Saints Constantine and Helen Church was laid, eventually creating the warm and welcoming cathedral.

The lives of Saints Constantine & Helen

The Cathedral is named for the 3rd-century saints Constantine and his mother Helen (often called Helena), who lived during parts of the 3rd and 4th centuries, Common Era (A.D.).

Some authorities pinpoint Constantine’s birth year to 272, according to several Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic sources. He is often dubbed the “13th apostle.”

Born the son of Constantius Chlorus, who ruled the westernmost portion of the Roman Empire, and Helen, he succeeded to his father’s throne in 306. Marching into Italy to meet foes in battle, Constantine, then in his 30s, received a vision of a radiant pillar in the form of a cross, and the message “By this shalt thou conquer.” He also received an apparition of Christ in his dreams and became a Christian. Yet, he would not be baptized until on his deathbed.

In Italy, Constantine was able to prevail over his malicious brother-in-law, Licinius, who was persecuting Christians. Constantine’s victory ended the persecution and Christianity flourished under Constantine’s rule. He convened the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325. The previous year, he had established a new capital for his realm in ancient Byzantium and named it after himself: Constantinpole.

St. Constantine is believed to have died (entered heavenly rest) on May 21 or 22 of 337 A.D. May 21 has become the feast day for both Constantine and Helen, and the day on which the Brooklyn cathedral marks its anniversary.

After Constantine had given victory to Christianity, his mother, Helen set upon a journey to Jerusalem, where she is said to have found the cross on which Jesus of Nazareth (the Christ) was crucified. To glorify Christ, she built churches in Jerusalem at the sites of the Crucifixion and Resurrection; as well as in Bethlehem at the place of Jesus’ birth and at the Mount of Olives, as well as others throughout the Holy Land, Cyprus and other points in the ancient Near East.


Antioch Baptist Church Sponsors Senior Fair

Are you a senior, caregiver, or a person who likes to plan for the future?  Then the first annual Senior Resource Fair, at Antioch Baptist Church event is for you!

The Senior Resource Fair will be held on Saturday, May 30, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The program includes seminars covering Medicaid and Medicare eligibility and planning, home care services, identity theft, hospice care, medication management, reverse mortgages, guardianships, estate planning and signs of mental illness. 

Free screenings will be offered for memory, cholesterol and blood pressure.  Free legal assistance with completing healthcare proxies will also be provided. 

For more information, contact antiochbaptistlegal@[email protected], or (718) 878-7529


Bishop Provenzano Makes Pastoral Visit to St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church

The Rt. Rev. Lawrence Provenzano, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, visited Church of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity this month to preside at the Confirmation of members and to be present with the parishioners. (Brooklyn is part of the Diocese of Long Island.)

Bishop Provenzano presided at the Sunday morning Eucharist and also made a presentation to the Sunday school students of the significance of a bishop’s role and vestments. He showed the students his episcopal miter and the children also drew pictures of a bishop’s miter.

— Submitted by Carol B. Francescani, parish contributor

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