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Issue Date:  December 9, 2005

From the Editor's Desk

Living that day beyond

There is so much to talk about this week that one might have difficult choosing where to begin were it not for the appreciation of Patricia “Patty” Crowley who died Nov. 23 in Chicago at the age of 92.

To consider the life of Patty Crowley is to peer into the future. It is to discard the fear and the dysfunction that is paralyzing the church in so many spheres today and to encounter a Christianity and a faith breathtakingly healthy and bold. (See story)

To those for whom the Second Vatican Council is a dim point of history or less, know that Patty Crowley is a striking example of the real lives upon whom much of the thought of that council was built. The lesson, of course, is that it is impossible to educate young men and women to the significance of their baptism, as Patty Crowley was educated, and not invite trouble for those interested in maintaining the status quo. It’s a very Christian thing that happens.

It isn’t possible to absorb the Gospel’s radical teaching on the dignity of all humans and not raise the kinds of questions she raised in her lifetime.

To those who now take having women ministers in almost every area of church life as the norm, or who would never think of excluding someone from a discussion of theology or church history or ethics or ecclesiology or justice or peace because of their gender, know that such was not the norm before Patty Crowley, her late husband, Pat, and their ilk acted on the mandates of their baptism.

Sometimes it seems the task at hand for Catholics today is to simply try to ride out the paroxysms of scandal and strange documents and authoritarian jitters to some day beyond. Take a break from all of that and read the hope that is Patty Crowley’s life. She always lived that day beyond more fully aware of it than most of us.

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It would be easy, week to week, to talk about the extraordinary dedication that is rather ordinary among those who work for NCR, both full-timers and those who freelance. But Patrick O’Neill deserves special mention this week for dedication beyond the normal calling. (See story) He was completing his piece about the School of the Americas protest on Nov. 29, while waiting with his wife, Mary Rider, in the University of North Carolina Hospital where his 7-month-old daughter, Mary Evelyn, was undergoing heart surgery for an ailment related to Down syndrome. Mary Evelyn was resting comfortably Nov. 30. “Today’s nice,” he said in a phone conversation. The baby is the youngest of eight O’Neill children.

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I don’t mean to strain to tidy this up, but if one can take hope from the example of a life lived, I think one can also take hope, particularly in this season, from the work and the sense of anticipation of the young. And there was abundant evidence of both at this year’s SOA protest. The Jesuits, who have used this as a teaching opportunity over the years, are to be commended. It is easy to get lost in the jingoism of U.S. culture, particularly when the juices of nationalism and war fever run high. It is gratifying to know that young Catholics are being led to ask the kind of deep questions of themselves and their country that can only lead to more intelligent citizenship and a more profound life of faith.

-- Tom Roberts

National Catholic Reporter, December 9, 2005

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