First rule of retreat planning: The theme sets the scheme

If there’s no theme to a retreat, then a number of things have to be put on hold: a design; advertising since there’s no design; which means candidates get put on hold because they can’t find out about it; and the team is put on hold because we can’t have a team unless we have most of the ideas either optional or set in stone. So as we can see, the theme sets the scheme.

Rules to live by in the social media world

Many people see a photos posted on a social media site as creative ways to express personal beliefs. But what about those who disagree? One person's cute photo can be another's hateful attack. If you take exception, never forget to disagree without being disagreeable.

When will the media’s honeymoon with Pope Francis end?

We can be grateful for the coverage of the new pope in newspapers, television and on websites. But the media is as likely to fall out of love as quickly as they were to fall in love with Pope Francis. This will come when he does something seen as conservative or heavy-handed, perhaps reaffirming a doctrine of the faith.

Easter is more than one day – celebrate for 50

Easter is a time of celebration. The day that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ rises from the dead and conquers death is a day that we should always remember not just on Easter Sunday. In fact, the Easter season is 50 days long. We should be wishing people a “Happy Easter” for a while! Everyone seems to celebrate Easter, but not so much the Easter Season. My family in particular has a family reunion. Everyone on my dad’s side of the family gets together and brings a dish that their mother was known for. The gathering is so big we rent out a hall every year … yes we are very Italian.

50 Years of Advocacy for Catholic Health Care in Pennsylvania

Much has changed in healthcare over the past half century, from rising costs to incredible advancements in technology and treatments. Throughout these changes, the Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association (PCHA) has never wavered in its mission to continue Jesus’s healing ministry and advocate for the sanctity of life, access to health care for all and the common good. Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, the PCHA has 60 members, including hospitals, long-term care and other related health care facilities, and individuals involved in Catholic healthcare in Pennsylvania. A guiding force for much of PCHA’s 50 years has been the association’s president of 30 years, Sister Clare Christi Schiefer, O.S.F.

With different pro-life views, can our country be called united?

Perhaps you, too, enjoy travel books about places and people. Books such as John Steinbeck's "Travels With Charlie" and "Blue Highways" by William Least Heat-Moon are classics of this genre. These essays about off-road places provide a flavor of the unique character that distinguishes a place. With this in mind, one wonders how to understand the United States (with the emphasis on the adjective "united").

Why so few religious vocations? Reasons are many

According to data compiled by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), between 1900 and 1965 women religious numbers showed phenomenal growth, peaking at about 180,000. Since then they have declined to 54,000, a drop of 70 percent. More telling for the future, the average age of a religious sister is now in her 70s, and only about one percent is under 30. If this is to continue, and there seems to be nothing out there to suggest it won’t, inevitably many of the congregations will be forced to merge in the coming decades.

For youth group ministry, good leaders find good successors

With great leadership comes great replacements. Many people do not fully understand the role of a leader. First and foremost, you must lead (I think that may go without saying). However, the second most important aspect of becoming a good leader is finding a good replacement.

Voices from the Holocaust speak, perhaps not for long

Lice, dysentery, bedbugs, fleas and two showers a year. These aren't childhood memories a woman should carry with her, yet when concentration camp survivor Inge Auerbacher talks about her young life in Theresienstadt, a Nazi-run camp in Czechoslovakia, a vitality and optimism seem to transcend the horror. Auerbacher is now 78, but when she spoke at a church in Omaha, Neb., recently, she told the gathering, "I'm still that little girl," the little Jewish girl who was shipped off from her native Germany at the age of 6.

Appreciating our faith and what it gives us

Having concluded, some with disappointment, that Pope Francis will not change the church's stance on abortion, same-sex marriage and other issues in the first week of his pontificate, the bulk of the thousands of journalists covering the papal election left the Vatican.