The pope of the council

Pope Francis is a pope of many "firsts." He is the first non-European pope since the eighth century. He is the first Latin American pope. He is the first Jesuit to be elected pope, and he is the first pope to take the name "Francis." I have been surprised, however, that no one has pointed out that Pope Francis is the first pope to have been ordained after the Second Vatican Council. As a "post-Vatican II" priest, myself, I find this to be the most significant of all Pope Francis' "firsts."

Where is Christ in our midst?

One of my favorite traditions is gathering at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg for the annual chrism Mass. It is a glorious Mass celebrated by our bishop, Lawrence E. Brandt, concelebrated by diocesan priests, elevated by powerful music and attended by faithful people from all four counties of the diocese. Priests renew their priestly promises, and the bishop blesses the oils of the sick and catechumens and consecrates the sacred chrism, which are then distributed to all 85 of our diocesan parishes to be used throughout the coming year.

Protect children from evil, act to ban assault weapons

Although we knew it was true before they told us, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops labeled the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School “evil.” The bishops didn’t stop there. They challenged us to honor the memory of the children and teachers of Sandy Hook who were gunned down in minutes by supporting laws that protect society from assault weapons.

How to run a retreat for a youth group

Running a retreat is like running a marathon … if marathons lasted four to six months. First you have to prepare everything: get the main idea, the teachings, the theme, the talks, decorations and above all the two most important things: the team that builds the foundation and the candidates who experience the weekend. And I didn’t even go into specifics yet!

The myth of the multitasking marvel

Your smartphone may be able to do it all, but can you? As our society becomes more dependent on electronic gadgets and gizmos to perform myriad tasks, scientists have been studying the effects, benefits and drawbacks of people whose lives revolve around multitasking.

The difficulties teens face in finding a job

It probably comes as no surprise, but a lot of people are looking for work these days while few businesses are hiring. In a tight job market, high school students are left unemployed as established adults take entry-level jobs and college graduates who can't find entry-level jobs take jobs meant for college students and college students keep the jobs they had in high school.

An opportunity to showcase the faith during the papal transition

It was another one of those conversations that have occurred with some frequency in the past few weeks. "So, who do you think will be the new pope?" some asked. "I don't know, they haven't called," I said, forfeiting any claim to being a prestigious Catholic journalist in the know. The interest in who will be pope appears to surpass the interest in the teaching and philosophy of the church that the new pope will lead.

Even suffering can yield beauty when we look for Christ’s promise

In my travels, I often encounter artifacts from different countries and cultures. Among these, the most powerful are always the crosses and crucifixes crafted in a style that reflects the specific struggles and sufferings of those communities. Let me describe three.

Giving to the poor is good, getting to know them is better

Columnist Effie Caldarola and her daughter saw an old man sitting on the sidewalk. After giving him their pizza, and seeing him devouring a slice, it made her wonder why she didn't take the time, on a safe block on a busy street, to offer a little conversation with the meager gift? Was the man a real person or was he an object of their paltry charity? If Lent doesn't challenge us to embrace the poor, to connect, then we're missing the mark, she writes.

What you want to be when you grow up, at any age

There's one question we've all faced countless times: What do you want to be when you grow up? Some people know the answer at a young age. Others live their entire lives seeking but not finding. No matter where you are in that journey, you'll learn the answer is often more than an occupation; it's a state of happiness. Discovering the person you want to become is all about knowing who you are.