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Evansville, Indiana
January 10, 1992     The Message
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January 10, 1992

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Perspective By PAUL Message Editor The interior of the building seemed dark, but the door was open so we wert inside. We followed a path of dim lights toward an open area. "We picked a place to sit, and .looked at our surroundings. There were only two other people in view. They sat quietly, together, but not talking to each other• We had chosen a place on the other side of the room from them, where wetoo sat in the early morning quiet of a Sunday morning. Later, three more people came in and selected a place. They were loud and boisterous, at least by comparison to those of us who had arrived earlier• The three new people spoke to each other, but not to us. We did not speak with them. We remained that way. We were seven people in one room -- two here, two there and three more together but apart from the ret of us. We had come for the same reason, it was safe to presume, but our common purpose did not unite us. We remained isolated• Sunday morning: A brief reflection Sound like church? I hope not, but it could be. Our Sunday morning experience was at a truck stop, where my wife and I stopped for a pre-dawn breakfast on the way back to South- western Indiana. The two people there first were hunters, ac- cording to their clothing. The group of three gave no clue about their identities. Perhaps they had come from a party• All of us came for a meal. All of us sought nourishment. If the others felt at all like I did, they also sought to find a certain amount of comfort or rest -- perhaps "peace" is the word to use. If the others were at all like me, they also came to the restaurant to prepare themselves for what was next in their lives. They may have come to continue the process of awakening, to achieve a greater degree of being alert. Or they J may have come to conclude the party celebration with a meal together before each of them left for separate journeys. Sound like church? It could be, but I hope not. There may be much in common between what happened at that truck stop and what hap: pens in our churches, but what was so obviously lacking was a sense of community. In the truck stop, we were nameless and alone• Sharing a meal in community is not the only reason we come to church, of course• We praise, we adore, we give thanks and we the God who made us, the Son who redeemed us and the Spirit who sustains us. But if we assemble for the liturgy, and we are unaware of the lives of the people who are with us -- the twos and the threes and the ones who are all alone -- then our church is not much dif" ferent than a truck stop on an early Sunday morning• Washington Letter Choice in education: A look at wnere it stands By INES PINTO ALICEA Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) Mor and more parents na- tionwide are getting to pick which public school their children should attend and many more may soon have the option of sending their (:bil(Iren to private or reli- gious schools. Choicc , the concept that says parents should decide which school their children will attend, has become such a focus of tle national educa- lion reform movement that the question is no longer whether parents should be given a choice but rather whether their choice shouht be limited among public schools or opened to all schools, including, private and religious ones. More than 15 states have enacted laws or are debating legislation to allow parents to choose among public schools across district lines, but only one, Wisconsin, has allowed some of its students to choose among private schools. None, however, have allowed fund- The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47720-0169 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evansville Publisher .............. Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfingsr Associate Publisher ............... Rev. Joseph Ziliak Editor ............................................ Paul Leingang Production Manager ........................... Phil BaSer Circulation .................................... Susan Winiger Advertising .................................... Paul Newland Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, tN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $17.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2nd class matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701 .-Publica- tion number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication Copyright 1992 Calholic Press of Evansviile ing for religious schools. That could soon change when Congress reopens for work in January. Two sepa- rate choice bills are expected to be voted on by the Senate and House. Neither bill calls for spe- cific ways to finance choice, either through tax breaks or vouchers, but both could make it easier for private schools to be included in choice t)rograms, said Father Bill Davis, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales who is the U.S. bishops' representative for Catholic schools and fed- eral assistance. The Senate version, which originally limited choice to public schools, could get an amendment tacked onto it that calls for choice demon- stration project that includes all types of schools, while the House version would leave it up to the states to decide which schools participate, Father Davis said. Supporters, like President Bush, the U.S. Catholic Con- ference, the National Catholic Educational Association and the National Association of Independent Schools, say choice, i'f open to all schools, will promote competition among schools, improve bad ones and maybe even reduce the cost of educating stu- dents. Private school educators admit they are concerned that if they get government fund- ing, they may lose some of their schools' independence. But they add they already face numerous government safety, health and attendance regulations, and under Presi- dent Bush additional regula- tions may not be a factor. "I don't think participation is going to embroil you in seas of red tape," Bush told the Association of Christian Schools International conven- tion Nov. 26 in Anaheim, Calif. The choice movement has had its share of starts and stops because of the strength of its opponents, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peo- ple, the National Education Association and many public school supporters, who say pnblic schools will be short- changed of funds if private schools are allowed to get aid from choice programs. The, oplmnents add lhat choice proposals that call for tax breaks for families who send their children to private schools will only benefit the wealthy- not the poor -- and families wire already had 'chosen private education for their children. Opponents even have con- tested the use of vouchers, government credits which follow poor students to the school of their choice. Such is the case in Wisconsin, where $2,50O state-funded voudhers given to 550 poor public school students in Milwaukee so they can attend the private, non-religious academies of their choice have been hotly contested in the courts• Critics, including State Schools Superintendent Her- bert Graver and two teachers unions, succeeded in getting an appeals court to strike down the program, saying it was wrongly passed as part of a budget bill. But supporters of the program turned to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in October and were expecting a decision in January. Milwaukee Rep. Polly Williams, who pushed the choice plan through the state Legislature, told Catholic News Service that even if the court sides with the teachers unions, she expects choice plan will survive• She said she will introduce the plan in a bill by itself and supporters will help get it passed on its own merits. "Even the opponents know these children are much bet- ter off than they were," Williams said. "If we were to stop now, it would be like the children have been saved from a burning building and then putting them back into the burning building." In Ohio and Pennsylvania, similar efforts to include pri- vate sctaools in choice phms have been defeated. The Pennsylvania bill, voted down because it was said to have violate, d the con- stitutional separation of church and slate, called for more tban $300 million in state funding to give families grants to pa) tuition at any school outside ttleir lmme district. Choice supporters said they would introduce a le, ss ex- pensive proposal in January that would not include such grants but would let parents choose among available pub- lic schools and let high school students take college courses. But the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference has vowed to push for a bill that would allow "true choice" and help financially ailing parochial schools. The conference's stand has raised the ire of public school educators, particularly Jack Grier, president of the Easton Area Education Association who was quoted in The as£ ton Express-Times as saYl, the Catholic Church wa.S L' "the enemy to public edO tion" in Pennsylvania. . "If tht Ca ..... e ", tlaollc C h'q wer to cease to exist aed, appear today, it would be ' ter for all of us," he adde.a, Philadelohia Cardinal - thonv B(;vihWala called  J ..... • " .J0," Pennsylvanians to t;OllOV:',! ' "this hate-filled rhet°rn, being us;d by choice OpP nents "to t'raim Ibis isstl0  anti-Catholic terms." .., In California, a citl;e chol group is trying to get a be initiative on the NoVer°,ld 3tl 1992 ballot• The olan W tt allow state scholarshipit, children wbo choose t ,, tend onvate school. Tla -4 t ' • " . lit torney general's office ,,h0 Dye ts approval befor..,,. • gr °eU_ gPa :;{i ihe 1 ' bill on the ballot. .tff Some parts of the c°k # are not waiting for ]aWli¢, • n IlY" to test choice amo g P,-001s' private and religious scld0 In Indiana the Golden ,',']lV Insurance Co. and lli ;i pharmaceutical coraP# have earmarked more.ilv $1.2 million to give 1° ° 0¢ come parents vouchers L., to to send nearly 800 children' any school they chooSj Bishop's schedule The following activities and events are listed on th0 schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger