Putting the talents of parish youth to work

When I was a teenager, my mother worked as the youth minister at my parish, so I ended up going to every service project and every prayer service we hosted. We weren't a big group. There were four of us on the core committee, with others coming in and out when they needed service hours for confirmation or graduation. I remember having a lot of fun. While we ran service projects, such as collecting coats for the homeless in the fall and painting Habitat for Humanity houses in the spring, a lot of other groups in the parish requested our help, too.

Looking into the natural world can lead us back to God

About a year ago, when I was living in a new city far away from the home I'd loved, I read a Mary Oliver poem called "The Place I Want to Get Back To." Like most of Oliver's poetry, its starting place was nature, and this was about an encounter with deer. I read it over and over. I loved the ending lines, "I live in the house near the corner, which I have named Gratitude." It spoke to me of the gratitude growing within me toward my new home.

Immigration reform debate reviving age-old biases

The flight attendant was giving the usual safety instructions, the language as unchanging and familiar as if reading from a prayer card. She concluded with directions on using an oxygen mask for those traveling with small children. The attendant went off script and ended by saying "if you are traveling with more than one child, determine which has the most potential and apply the mask to him or her first."

Decentralization without communication will never work

As we happily bid goodbye to a command-and-control, top-down way of doing things in many organizations, including in some instances church organizations, we have to come up with a culture of communication to make sure things work well in the future.

Don’t pretend: Forced sex, casual sex are in same discussion

At the Catholic University of America, where I serve as president, we have been working on some revisions to our code of student conduct. We're finding that it's challenging because we need to send students two different messages about sex that can at times clash awkwardly.

Flood of bad news forces a choice to run away or confront it

Father Eugene Hemrick[/caption] To say the least, the news is anything but comforting. Take, for example, news about the Boston bombing, the kidnapping of three girls who were enslaved for a decade, thousands killed in Syria and hundreds of thousands more now refugees, horrendous forest fires, first-time snows in May and a multitude of services being cut because of the sequester. If we listed all of our present woes, they would fill a voluminous book

In Syria, prayer and aid needed more than arms

The Syrian conflict already responsible for a reported 80,000 deaths since March 2011 is now even more dire. Shiite fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah are becoming more active on the side of President Bashar Assad. Refugees continue to flee their homes for the overcrowded havens of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. More than 4 million Syrians are displaced within the country and nearly 7 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Sen. Toomey missed chance to link Catholic teaching, economics in Villanova talk

As an economics major, I was intrigued that Senator Patrick Toomey’s address was essentially a treatise on laissez-faire economics. He promoted a significant faith in unbridled capitalism, though it was of a type that lacks any measurement of its ability to protect and promote human dignity. Capitalism must be judged carefully when, according the World Bank, one out of every three deaths worldwide is related to poverty.

Confronting cruelty in children

Character development and the cultivation of empathy are key components in any strategy to confront cruelty in children. The topic of bullying has been in the headlines on and off for many years. A fine book by Emily Bazelon, "Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy," caught the attention of prominent reviewers and provides a balanced picture for the consideration of parents and educators who are understandably concerned.

The church can be a means to meet expectations

Can a church that measures time by 40 days of Lent, 50 days of Easter and four Sundays of Advent appeal to a generation that has little regard for tradition and institutions? Will religion, as the visible institution of faith, be able to affect the trend or will the trend affect the church? These questions are provoked by a lengthy article in a recent Time magazine profiling "the millennials" -- the latest generation to capture the interest of sociologists and marketers.