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January 3, 1997     The Message
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January 3, 1997

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se takes a look ahead with Future Parish Staffing Task Force e- / y < / Steckler was ordained to the priesthood Church, Huntingburg, by Bishop Ger- to Know east of the Epiphany is celebrated. ! calendar of the Roman Catholic Church, Epiphany occurs on the January 6 ("the ). In the United States, it is cele- rest Jan. 6 -- this year, Jan. 5. "manifestation." the Eastern Church in the third century, B the manifestation of God to the aptism of Christ. The Eastern Church to link Epiphany with the Baptism of introduced into the Western Church the focus shifted from Christ's Bap- tes the manifestation of God world, symbolized by the Three the East to honor the newborn Jesus. from Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Indiana, 1991. By MARY ANN HUGHES Message staff writer The future was the focus of 1996 as the Future Parih Staffing Task Force predicted dramatic changes which will be required in order to provide sacramental ministry for all Catholics in the Diocese of Evansville. During 1996, Father Kenneth Steckler was ordained to the priesthood. Ground-breaking ceremonies were held at Pre- cious Blood Church, Jasper, and the new St. Nicholas Church was dedicated in Santa Claus In November, Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger delivered the First State of the Diocese address to an assembly of parish leaders and diocesan staff. Ordinations Father Kenneth Steckler was ordained to the,priesthood on July 13 at St, Mary Church, Huntingburg, by Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger. Bishop Gettelfinger used the imagery of field and farm in his comments to the new priest and to those who gathered to cele- brate with him. State of the Diocese Bishop Gettelfinger took a look back and then looked ahead during his State of the Diocese address, given to parish leaders and diocesan staff on No: 23 at Good Shepherd Church, Evans- ville. Bishop Gettelfinger began with a brief summary of the fifty-plus years of the diocese, and then he presented an overview of the church during the 31 years since Vatican II. He then concentrated on developments in the diocese since his arrival in 1989. He dis- cussed parish staffing, religious education and formation, lay leadership, stewardship, tech- nology, evangelition, and mar, riage and family life. He concluded by emphasizing the importance of two social sacraments: matrimony and holy orders. Building plans, renovations A building boom was under- way throughout the diocese in 1996. Among the projects under- way were * Precious Blood Church, Jasper: A new church and class- room building, estimated at $4.1 million; St. Ferdinand Church, Fer- dinand: A new building for reli- gious education, parish offices, estimated at $1.1 million; St. Nicholas Church, Santa Claus: A new church and parish facility, $1.2 million. A dedica- tion ceremony was held Dec. 8. Washington Catholic Schools: A new middle school building adjoining the present high school, and renovation of the elementary and high school buildings, esti- matod at $2.5 million. ...... ..... Holy Rosary Churv Evans- ville: completion of renovation at See 1996page 8 1996: Physician-assisted suicide key issue in world of religion By JERRY FILTEAU Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Whatever the U.S. Supreme Court decides in 1997 about physician-assisted suicide, 1996 will go down in history as the year that set the stage for the high court's most momentous life-and-death policy decision since it legalized abortion in 1973. In March and April two feder- al appeals courts -- the 9th Cir- cuit Court in San Francisco and the 2nd in New York -- declared, each on different grounds, that terminally ill Americans have a constitutional right to kill them- selves and have a doctor help them do it. The Supreme Court agreed Oct. 1 to review both cases. In November the U.S. Catholic Conference and numerous other religious bodies filed friend-of- the-court briefs urging the nation's highest judicial body not to enshrine a so-called "right to die" in the U.S. Constitution. In Michigan Dr. Jack Kevorkian -- assisted suicide's most widely recognized advocate because of his frequent defiance of the law to help patients die and publicize his cause -- played a role in more than a dozen new suicides in 1996 after a jury acquitted him of criminal charges in two of the earliest sui- cides at which he assisted. 1996 was also a year of U.S. presidential elections and bitter debate over partial-birth abor- tion, new troubles in the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans and Northern Ireland, further ecu- menical advances and difficul- ties, and new Catholic intra- mural conflicts. It was a year when Congress passed a two-step increase in the minimum wage, a move long urged by the U.S. bishops and many Catholic social service agencies. But Congress also enacted welfare reform legislation that imposed strict time limits on welfare eligibility, excluded legal immigrants from most public assistance including Medicaid, and sharply reduced future food stamp expenditures. The U.S. bishops called the new welfare law "deeply flawed" and the head of Catholic Chari- ties USA called it a "national dis- grace." New federal legislation on health care insurance made it easier for people to retain cover- age despite job changes or pre- existing conditions. A new law called for V-chips in future television sets to let par- ents block offensive programs, and networks tried to work out a voluntary content warning sys- tem to avoid federal regulation. It was on partial-birth abor- tion, however, that the U.S. hier- archy tried hardest to make its voice heard. In April President Clinton vetoed the legislation to ban such abortions, which involve suctioning the brain of the fetus, allowing for easier delivery of the collapsed head. In a joint letter to Clinton, the nation's eight cardinals and Bishop Anthony M. Pilla of See WORLD NEWS page 12