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Belmont Abbey College hosts Bible marathon reading event – CAN

Belmont Abbey College hosts Bible marathon reading event – CAN

By Francesca Pollio Fenton – CNA Staff, Apr 26, 2024 / 06:00 am

Students, faculty, monks, and staff at Belmont Abbey College took part in their first “Cover to Cover” Bible Marathon Reading Event from April 8–12, 2024.. | Credit: Nicholas Willey

Eighty-five hours and 42 minutes. That was the time it took students, faculty, monks, and staff to read the Bible from beginning to end at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina during its first “Cover to Cover” Bible marathon reading event earlier this month.

More than 110 readers took turns standing at a podium in Stowe Hall, the college’s main administration building, reading aloud from sacred Scripture throughout the day and night beginning Monday, April 8, and ending in the early hours of Friday, April 12.

Tom MacAlester, PhD – Vice Provost and Dean of Student Life at Belmont Abbey College, told CNA in an interview that the idea came from an experience he had during his time in college at Florida State University.

“There was a group of a number of campus ministries at Florida State that kind of undertook an ecumenical approach to reading the Bible from cover to cover, nonstop,” he explained. “Baptist students and Catholic students — we even had some students from Hillel come and read parts of the Old Testament, and it was a really cool event.”

“It’s stuck with me all these years, and I was excited to be able to try it out here at the Abbey and ended up having a fantastic reception,” he added.

Ahead of the event, sign-up sheets were sent out to all students and staff giving them the ability to find a time that worked with their class schedules.

MacAlester shared that once they shared the vision for the event, “it was an easy sell” and “students got really excited about it.”

“There was a moment where we were like, ‘Oh, maybe we’ll just do the New Testament,’ but then students started signing up for the Old Testament,” he said. “You know reading the Book of Numbers at two in the morning — that sounds like really exciting stuff, right? But our students signed up really quick.”

He said many students have reached out to share how meaningful the event was to them and how, for many, “in a beautiful and a providential way, the Lord had them reading a very specific verse just for them and how touching and moving that was to them.”

There are now plans in the works to ensure each incoming class to Belmont Abbey has the opportunity to take part in the “Cover to Cover” Bible marathon at least once during their four years at the college. This will most likely mean a once-in-three-years cycle, MacAlester explained.

MacAlester hopes that students recognized “the power of Scripture” by taking part in this event.

“It’s a blueprint right? If we’re looking for a guide, if we’re looking for inspiration in how to live a holy life and one day hopefully get to heaven and bring our friends, we can’t be ignorant of Scripture,” he said.

‘It’s a minor miracle’: Parishioners purchase historic church from Pennsylvania diocese – CAN

‘It’s a minor miracle’: Parishioners purchase historic church from Pennsylvania diocese – CAN

By Daniel Payne – CNA Staff, Mar 23, 2024

The exterior of St. Joseph’s in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

A group of parishioners in the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, is celebrating this month after acquiring a historic church from the diocese and preserving it as a chapel and place of worship.

The Society of St. Joseph of Bethlehem (SSJB) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, announced earlier this month that the society had purchased St. Joseph’s Church, which opened more than a century ago, from the Allentown Diocese.

“The desire to preserve the church by former parishioners has been steadfast since the church was closed in 2008,” the society’s board said in a letter announcing the purchase. “It has taken time and energy over the years to enter into an agreement with the Diocese of Allentown.”

On its Facebook page, the SSJB says its mission is “to restore and preserve St. Joseph’s Church as a sacred place of worship and a testament to the history and cultural heritage” of the area.

Lina Tavarez, a spokeswoman for the diocese, said the parish ”was closed in 2008 because of a merger of several local parishes.”

“It hosted only one regular Mass per year — on the feast day of St. Joseph — and was available for funerals for former parishioners,” she said.

The Mass of the solemnity of St. Joseph at St. Joseph’s Parish in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Credit: Susan Vitez

Paula Kydoniefs, the president of the board of directors of SSJB, told CNA that the group was established “solely for the purpose of buying this church, taking care of it, and sponsoring events.” The church, historically attended by the local Slovenian/Windish community, had its cornerstone laid in 1914 and fully opened in 1917.

Kydoniefs explained that the decision to purchase the property originated several years ago, during a period when the diocese was in the process of merging local parishes.

“In 2008 they were consolidating, and this was one of five churches that was being closed as a parish,” she said. “St. Joseph’s parishioners fought that and appealed it and ended up taking it to the Vatican.”

The Vatican eventually ordered that the parish remain open for use, Kydoniefs said. In 2011 then-Bishop John Barres “gave the parish the ability to have an annual Mass and have funerals of former parishioners.”

The church was used “only occasionally” in this capacity, Tavarez told CNA. In 2023 the diocese moved again to sell the church.

“We went back to the diocese,” Kydoniefs said. “It’s a minor miracle. It was last-minute.”

“They had already announced they were going to sell it. They could have just told us no,” she said. “But, credit to them, they said: ‘If you can come up with $175,000 quickly, you can purchase it.’”

Kydoniefs said “several minor miracles and maybe major miracles” followed, with a benefactor — the James Stocklas Family Trust — quickly coming forward to donate “the whole $175,000.”

“Financially we’re independent, and we’re totally responsible for the care and upkeep and maintenance of the church,” Kyondiefs said.

“According to canon law, it’s a chapel,” she said. “It’s still a Catholic church, it’s still affiliated with the diocese in that way. The diocese has the jurisdiction over what public worship services we can do there.”

“They’ve told us that we must have two Masses a year, one on the feast day of St. Joseph [March 19] and one on Oct. 28, the anniversary of the consecration of the church,” she added.

Presently the church is not suited for occupancy, Kydoniefs said, with inspectors finding several code deficiencies in need of updating. Regulators did work with the community to develop a stopgap mitigation plan that allowed the church to celebrate St. Joseph’s feast day on March 19.

The church “does need a lot of work,” she admitted, but she said the SSJB is prepared to see the building restored and utilized for regular community and religious events “at least monthly.”

“We’ve got a lot of ideas,” she said. “We really want to see this church being used again.”

In a letter issued upon the church’s reopening, meanwhile, the SSJB wrote that “as heartbreaking as it was a year ago, to hear that our cherished St. Joseph’s Church was to be permanently closed and sold on the open market, we now experience the opposite — hearts filled with joy and thanksgiving!”

“To the St. Joseph’s Church community,” the letter said, “welcome home!”

World’s oldest nun is 115-year-old Brazilian – Catholic News Agency

World’s oldest nun is 115-year-old Brazilian – Catholic News Agency

By Nathália Queiroz – ACI Digital, Mar 20, 2024

Sister Inah Canabarro and her nephew Kléber Canabarro. | Credit: ACI Digital

“My secret, my great secret, is to pray,” said Sister Inah Canabarro Lucas, the oldest nun in the world at 115 years of age. “I pray the rosary every day for all the people around the world.”

The Teresian nun is also the oldest person in Brazil and Latin America, according to the Gerontological Research Group.

Sister Inah expressed her good humor and joy in the few words she managed to say in a March 9 interview with ACI Digital, CNA’s Portuguese-language news partner. She repeated a prayer several times to the Virgin Mary, praying to her “for all the people of the entire world.”

The nun currently lives in Porto Alegre in Rio Grande do Sul state in Santo Enrique de Ossó Home, adjacent to the Provincial House of the Teresian Sisters of Brazil, the community she entered in 1927 at the age of 19.

According to the home’s coordinator, Sister Lúcia Ignez Bassotto, Sister Inah “is always focused on others and not on herself.” She is “a very resilient person, isn’t demanding, appreciates everything, thinks that everything is fine, has enormous admiration for the congregation, for the company. She prays for everyone, she is concerned for everyone.”

“Her life is truly exemplary,” continued Sister Lúcia, who has known Sister Inah since she was a student in the town of Sant’Ana do Livramento.

Another characteristic of Sister Inah is that she always wants to be active. She continues to participate in community prayers, and she likes to be in the garden and spend time with her sisters.

Sister Lúcia said that although the elderly nun’s health has declined a little in the last couple of weeks, on the days when she is well she is very talkative and playful.

Until recently, she continued, Sister Inah “painted napkins, made cards, did many things. When she had nothing to do, she would pick up a deck of cards and start playing. If she didn’t have anyone to play with, she would play alone. She had a lot of fun.”

Inah Canabarro Lucas was born in the town of São Francisco de Assis in west-central Rio Grande do Sul on May 27, 1908, and is the second to last of seven children.

She is the great-great-niece of Gen. David Canabarro, one of the main leaders of the Farroupilha Revolution (1835–1845) in Rio Grande do Sul.

When she was a child, one of her brothers told her mother that Inah could study at a convent in her town. Inah then asked: “What are nuns?” Her mother answered that they were women who dedicated themselves to praying to God, to which she replied: “I’m going to be a nun.”

Sister Inah studied at the nuns’ school and at the age of 19, she went for her novitiate with the Teresian Sisters in Montevideo in Uruguay.

Over more than a century, she has experienced many changes in the world and in the Church. She has lived through two world wars and has seen 10 pontiffs. The year she was born, the pope was St. Pius X.

“Aunt Inah was very skinny and thin since she was a child,” Kléber Canabarro Lucas, 83, the nun’s nephew, told ACI Digital. Due to her frail appearance, everyone thought that she would not live long.

“That’s why she’s been here for 115 years and the rest of the class is all gone,” he remarked.

“Sister Inah is our pinnacle in terms of religiosity, faith, goodwill, a kind and good-humored person; she has been like that all her life. Now the poor thing is declining with age,” he noted.

“But God is going to help her and she is going to turn 116, 117, we are going to be 120, God willing,” the nephew said.

“She is super happy, a person who has life, has love, truly loves,” said Sister Teresinha de Aragón, 83, who has known the nun since she was a child, because her sister was her student at Sant’Ana do Livramento.

The 115-year-old nun is someone “who holds everyone in her heart. There are no exceptions. She treats everyone well, with love, whether they are little ones, adults, or elderly. “She’s a person that loves, she really loves,” Sister Teresinha related.

Sister Inah was a teacher all her life. She taught Portuguese, mathematics, science, history, art, and religion in Teresian schools in Rio de Janeiro, Itaqui, and Sant’Ana do Livramento, a city she loved because it was where she spent most of her life.

According to her nephew, she was “strict, a disciplinarian and affectionate teacher who won over everyone.”

Many of the sisters who currently live at the provincial house in Porto Alegre were the nun’s students or tell stories about how Sister Inah helped them discover their vocation.

Additionally, Sister Inah is one of the few nuns in her congregation who still wears her habit. According to the sisters of her community, since the Second Vatican Council (1963–1965) wearing the habit has been optional. Each person can choose to wear it or not. Since the elderly sister is not fully capable of deciding, and has always worn her habit, her caregivers decided to always dress her in it because it’s the way she has always seen herself, as a religious.

“I feel very happy, very grateful to God because it was [Sister Inah] who guided me along this path and now I can be useful to her, help her in the moments when she needs me,” said Sister Velmira, who is a nurse and in recent years has been the one caring for Sister Inah’s health.

“Mother Inah helped me find this place where I feel so happy, I feel very good with everyone,” she said.

A notable achievement in her life was creating the marching band at Santa Teresa school in Sant’Ana do Livramento. The band played 115 musical instruments and performed throughout Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.

Apart from saying that she prays for everyone, among the few words that Sister Inah spoke during the interview was also a praise for her favorite team, “because it’s the people’s team, of good, poor, very honest, very good people.”

This story was first published by ACI Digital, CNA’s Portuguese-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by ACI Prensa/CNA.

Former pro football player prepares to take final vows as a nun – News from Catholic News Agency

Former pro football player prepares to take final vows as a nun – News from Catholic News Agency

Toronto, Ohio, Jun 18, 2018 / 03:26 am (CNA).- Every single vocation story is different, but Sr. Rita Clare (Anne) Yoches is probably one of the more unusual.
Sr. Rita Clare, who this month will profess final vows with the Franciscan Sisters T.O.R. of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother, was a four-time national champion professional football player prior to entering the convent.

Yes, that’s American football. (She was a fullback.) Nowadays, the only football Yoches is playing is the annual two-hand touch game she organizes with the 38 T.O.R. sisters she lives with in Toronto, Ohio.
Although she was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools, Yoches said she never once considered becoming a nun. Her family attended Mass each Sunday, but that was about it in terms of her faith life. A talented athlete, Yoches earned a full basketball scholarship to the University of Detroit-Mercy, where she played for four years.
After college, she began her football career in 2003 after a successful tryout with the Detroit Demolition, a now-defunct women’s professional team. She left the team in 2006, and in March of 2007, the former self-described party girl experienced a calling to enter religious life. She ended her relationship with her boyfriend, and entered the Franciscans shortly after.
“(I) loved to stay out as late as could on Friday and Saturday nights, but always went to Mass on Sundays. But I never really listened to what God was saying,” said Yoches in a video about her conversion.
One Sunday, after a particularly moving homily, Yoches realized that she needed to drastically change her lifestyle.
“And I was like, that’s me. I’m sick and dying on the inside. So that convinced me to go to Confession for the first time in a long time.” Her priest provided her with guidance about reading scripture every day, and she began attending Eucharistic Adoration.
It was during Eucharistic Adoration that she felt truly embraced by God, and really began to get a sense of His plan for her life.
“And then I felt God the Father just wrap his arms around me and give me a hug, and just pulled me onto his chest like only a father can hug a daughter,” she said.
“And my life was forever changed. I just wanted more and more of Jesus.”
She says while her family was supportive of her decision to enter the convent, her friends were surprised, as she had largely kept her faith life private.
“People were very surprised that this was really who and what I wanted to do and be,” she told the Detroit Free Press.
Sr. Rita Clare will profess final vows on June 30.