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January 2, 1998     The Message
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January 2, 1998
 

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Another end, another beginning By PAUL R. LEINGANG Editor It was a casual conversation, but somehow the depth of winter intruded into my thoughts not long afterward. As I was leaving the office one evening, not too long past the officially listed closing time, another employee was packing up her things to leave, too. "Going home early?" I joked. She usually puts in long hours, working many evenings. This particular evening, though, she was leaving after only a half an hour of extra effort. She said she was "going home early" -- but only because she had stopped working, not because she had finished her work. I recalled that once upon a time, there were days when I felt as if I had actually finished my work. But those days were long ago. During school years, I remember, there were many times when I as a student could feel that some- thing was finished -- homework, book reports, paper and projects. Exams brought even greater times of celebrating completion, the end of a quarter, the end of a semester, just the end, the fact of finishing. At home, too, there was something quite enjoy- able about completing the few tasks my mother and father had me do around the house. Not that I didn't complain at times. There was satisfaction in the ordi- nary completion of a day's work, as ordinary as it may have been. It was done. Work on the farm or in the garden, too, was satis- fying for me -- especially since I wasn't the one with the responsibility for year-round success. All I had to do was a simple task or two -- each of which had a clear beginning and a definite ending, like a row of young sweet corn stalks with weeds in between the plants. All a person had to do was start at one end, hoe the weeds or pull them out, and continue to the end of the row. . But today, nothing seems to be complete. Each day, each deadline, each row of corn seems to blend into the next one. And worst of all, some days, the corn and the weeds are almost indistinguishable from each other. The thought keeps recurring, that for Jesus, the work was not done until his death on the cross, when he could proclaim, "It is finished." St. Paul wrote about running the race, completing the course -- a passage often used at a funeral to describe the completion of a life on earth. This is the time of the year for such reflection, on days clouded over and nights overly long. The new year is begun, but it takes an effort to notice that it is not just another row ending, another beginning. It takes time to stop for a needed mark on the measuring stick of this life. Talk to friends and family about fire your life which came to an end in 1997-- job, a relationship, the life of someone you 1 perhaps a task you set out to lem to be solved, or a situation to be events brought happiness? Whict sadness? Decide for or friends to work with you -- to help your community to get to the end of a painful situation. Choose a ty or work Bring an end to hopelessness, or loneliness. Work with a church group or a civic to multiply your efforts. " Take the time in 1998 to make a others in your family and in your difference, too. Comments about this column aJ prleing@cfm.org or the Christian Family Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. Washington Le00er For America's poor, it's not. the best of times By MARK PATTISON Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Perhaps it is the time of year that prompts the notion that America is in a paradoxical, Dickensian situation. Is Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" better thought of in this day and age as "A Tale of Two Societies"? Exhibit A: The United States is experiencing its most robust economy in decades. Unem- ployment is at its lowest level in 26 years. The federal budget deficit is nearly gone due to economic growth, nearly mak- ing the recent deficit elimination agreement moot. Exhibit B: Catholic Charities USA reported Dec. 10 that its network of affiliates helped 12.8 million people in 1996, up 18.5 percent from 1995's figure of 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711  Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published waekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Pi,r,i ............. Bh +,-.,-.,-.,-.,-.,- A. Geelfmger Ed@to ...................................... Paul R+ Leingar Production Tec'an ............... Joseph Detrich Adverng ................................... Paul Neaiand Staff Wrrtar ......................... Mary Ann Hughes Address all comrnun.ations to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $1750 per year Single Copy Price: $50 Entered as I)eod;ca! maer at  t ce +n EcanswtIe, iN 47701 P,,at:on number 843800 Plmaste': Return PO0 forms 3579 to Offe of CoWr't 1997 Caff Press of EvansvEtle 10.8 million. Half of the people Catholic Charities helped in 1996 needed food, Exhibit C: The U.S. Confer- ence of Mayors' 13th annual survey of hunger and home- lessness, issued Dec. 15, said that in 29 cities surveyed, requests for emergency food were up 16 percent; While requests for emergency shelter increased at a lower rate in 1997 than in '96, more people were turned away than ever before due to a lack of beds. Exhibit D: A study Dec. 16 by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty found that local opposition to housing and services to home- less people across the country resulted in programs being delayed, their costs driven up -- and, in some cases, stymied altogether. For many in America, "it is the best of times," said Tom Cochrane, executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. But for others, it is the worst of times. From ongoing economic experience, Cochrane said he has learned that "a rising tide does not lift all boats." The U.S. Conference of May- ors survey said many cities cited aid cuts approved in the 1996 federal welfare law overhaul as the reason for the increase in requests for emergency food. The survey added that many once;jobless people now work- ing are getting paid wages so low -- and with no benefits -- that they still must seek help. It told of a Detroit woman, "Moll)'," a mother of two girls, now homeless for the fourth time. The last time she was in a shelter, she successfully kicked a drug habit, then rented a flat upstairs of her mother and sis- ter, who could take care of the kids while she worked. But a big storm so damaged their home that the landlord abandoned it. Now, not only are Molly and her children in a shel- ter, but her mother and sister, too. The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty reported two examples of how the "NIMBY" syndrome -- Not In My Back Yard -- affected two Catholic agencies. In July 1995, two days after the Connecticut State Bond Commission approved $1.5 mil- lion for use by the St. Vincent de Paul Society to convert a vacant factory in Meridien, Conn., into a transitional housing facility the building was burned down. The housing plan was strongly opposed by the mayor and many prospective neighbors. Fire investigators ruled arson. It was the second time in a year in which a building the St. Vin- cent de Paul Society planned to convert into housing for low- income people was set afire. In November 1995, Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., was approved for a federal Department of Housing and Urban Develop- ment grant to create a 21-unit transitional housing facility to house about 75 homeless peo- ple, most of them women. A onetime Catholic school was going to be the site, and a contract had been negotiated with the parish. But to forge ahead, a zoning variance was needed. The Perth Amboy Board of Adjustment -- acting on resi- dents' concerns the project would lower property values and their fear of the would-be residents living among them -- voted 8-1 against granting the variance. Catholic Charities sought to aplSeal, but that required having a transcript of the initial hearing. All but one of the tapes of the .hearing had been "lost." The hearing had to be held a second time. This time, though, Catholic Charities paid for a court stenographer to transcribe the proceedings lest the hearing tapes somehow got lost again. An appeal was ultimately successful and a zoning vari- ance granted. But so much time passed that the HUD money, and the grade school, were no longer available. Transitional housing in Perth Amboy has yet ::iX to be built. Jesuit Father head of ( said from all received, the 1997 those needing he higher than the released in More ment people are from poverty, make wel you've got to like vans" to where the jobs child care, Father The gap betweea poor is continueS tO I nomenon not seen before World Kammer said. Auxiliary bishop named for new auxiliary bi uled for March dral of Mary timore. WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope John Paul II named Jesuit Father Gordon D. Bennett, president of a Los Angeles Catholic high school, as an auxiliary bishop for the Baltimore Archdiocese. Archbishop Agostino Cac- ciavillan, apostolic pro-nuncio to the United States, announced the appointment Dec. 23 in Washington. The installation Mass for the Bishop,s currently High School in Prior to that and master of Peace Calif,, and High School. Mass and Dinner with the Bishop, Vocations Office, Sarto Retreat House, Monday, CST. Confirmation at Holy Spirit Church, E Jan. 6, 7 p.m. CST. Personnel Board Meeting, bishop's house, Jan. 7, 1:30 p.m. Bishop's staff meeting, Catholic Center, 9 a.m. to noon. IY