Issue Date: February 24, 2006
Forging new paths
In this era of declining religious vocations in the U.S. Catholic church, it can be tempting to give in to a feeling of dismay, as Fr. Robert Drinan describes the mood at a retreat of his fellow Jesuits. ( See story) Drinan finds hope in the vigorous church around the world -- and it is the phenomenon of that worldwide church sending its priests to the United States that is the focus of our lead article.
Patricia Lefevere reports on a newly released study, International Priests in America, which examines the lives of foreign-born clergy in the United States, and the debate sparked by pastoral concerns for the newcomers, their home countries, and the American Catholics they are serving. ( See story)
While foreign-born priests are used to staff U.S. parishes, writer Michael Gallagher applies his experience in management in both secular and Catholic employment to urge the bishops to think more creatively to reverse the priest shortage. ( See story)
Among women religious, reporter Renée LaReau found a great sense of hope and a willingness to forge new paths in the face of their declining numbers. This new approach includes emphasizing quality over quantity, and strengthening international ties and bonds among congregations. ( See story)
Meanwhile, the work of serving Gods people goes on. Two stories by a priest and a nun, respectively, about a journey with a man on death row -- one who was executed ( see story), another who found reprieve but still faces a life in prison ( see story). Writer Angelo Stagnaro tells of how he got a taste of the life of Franciscan friars serving the poorest of the poor in the Bronx, New York. ( See story)
-- Teresa Malcolm
National Catholic Reporter, February 24, 2006
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