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Published: Friday, 12/9/2005

Catholic convert guest speaker for prayer meeting

FROM BLADE STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

Alex Jones, a former Pentecostal minister who converted to Catholicism in 2001, will be the guest speaker Wednesday night at the Toledo Diocesan Prayer Meeting, presented by the Ministry to Catholic Charismatics.

Mr. Jones was a Protestant minister for nearly 30 years and pastor of his own church for 20 before being confirmed at St. Suzanne s Catholic Church in Detroit.

He was joined by 62 members of his former church, who also converted to Catholicism.

The prayer meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Good Shepherd Church, 550 Clark St. Information: 419-691-6686.

2 personnel appointmentsmade by Bishop Blair

Bishop Leonard Blair of the Toledo Catholic Diocese has made two personnel appointments:

wThe Rev. David Beck, pastor of St. Jude Parish, Toledo, will be associate pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Findlay, effective Jan. 1.

wSister M. Shannon Schrein has been named to a three-year term on the Diocesan Pastoral Advisory Council. The recommending body is charged with assisting Bishop Blair in setting the direction and vision for the diocese for pastoral ministry.

Sister Shannon is chair and professor of religious studies at Lourdes College.

Rare new Catholic dioceseto be formed in Vietnam

HANOI About 10,000 people participated in a ceremony for the creation of a new Roman Catholic diocese, the first in more than 30 years in Vietnam, in another sign of thawing relations between the communist government and the Holy See.

The ceremony to create Ba Ria Diocese was presided over by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, who heads the Vatican s evangelization office, the Rev. Nguyen Duc Quynh of Chu Hai parish said. Monsignor Thomas Nguyen Van Tram was appointed the bishop of Ba Ria.

Ba Ria Diocese will have more than 220,000 Catholics, Mr. Quynh said.

Menu and tree linked toChristmas are removed

SEATTLE Holiday religious issues arose in two suburban school districts, one for lunch menus with the words Merry Christmas and the other for a giving tree.

In Federal Way, between Seattle and Tacoma, December lunch menus for all 23 elementary schools were recalled and reprinted with the words Happy Holidays at a cost of $494 after a new nutrition services employee mistakenly prepared them with the greeting Merry Christmas, spokesman Diane Turner said.

Using Merry Christmas on the menus violated school system policies because it has a religious connotation for some people, Ms. Turner said. The 11,500 calendar-style menus were never distributed and were recycled.

In Medina, east of Lake Washington, a Christmas-style tree bearing mittens labeled with gift ideas was up for about a week at Medina Elementary School before it was removed, office manager Chris Metzger said.

The idea was for pupils to take a mitten, get the listed gift, wrap it, and take it to school to be given to someone at Lake Hills Elementary School in a less well-off section of neighboring Bellevue.

Some parents had put up the spiral, lighted tree with a star at the top, but it was removed Monday after another parent complained that it had religious connotations, Ms. Metzger said.

The mittens were transferred to a counter in the office so the gift program could continue.

We covered the star and called it a giving tree. We hoped it would suffice, but it didn t, Ms. Metzger said. Now we just have a giving counter.

Prayers offered for Greekchurch lost in 9/11 attack

NEW YORK As Christians around the world celebrated St. Nicholas Day, the Greek Orthodox faithful headed for ground zero to pray for the St. Nicholas Church lost in the 2001 terrorist attack.

This 36-foot tall church was just a stone s throw away from the trade center. People tried to buy air rights over it, or to move it, said Peter Drakoulias, a member of the almost century-old congregation. But the church stayed. It was always the little church that could.

The big question now is: Will the tiny house of worship that stood on 24 by 55 square feet of ground zero be part of the rebuilt World Trade Center site?

We re working closely with St. Nicholas, the Port Authority, and other partners to find an agreeable location for a rebuilt church on the World Trade Center site, John Gallagher, a spokesman for the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., said.



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