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August 21, 1998     The Message
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August 21, 1998
 

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Agust 21, It is already written within us "You ought to write those things down," she said -- but then she admitted that she never did, and always wished she had. We were talking about vacations, and how after only a few years, the details of even the most extraor- dinary travels and adventures get mixed up and , maybe even forgotten. She was right. Just this summer, my wife and I and some friends from the Christian Family Movement took a vacation which I can hardly find words to describe. It was more than exciting, it was at times chal- lenging, it was certainly enriching. We had traveled for a week in China, and just a bare-bones listing of places and events is almost too much to ask anyone to listen to. We climbed the Great Wall, ate Peking duck, watched Peking Opera, walked through Tiananmen Square, explored the Forbidden City, marveled at the Summer Palace, visited the Temple of Heaven u and that was just in and around Beijing, the first of three cities we visited. Near Xian we saw the Terra Cotta Warriors, per- haps the most significant archeological discovery of the twentieth century. At Kunming, we traveled on the famous Burma Road, and and then explored the Stone Forest. In China, we visited big cities and rural villages. We saw Buddhist temples and Catholic Christian churches. We participated in Mass and prayed together with a congregation as a bishop ordained a deacon. The places and events in such a full week Of experiences are still nearly fresh in my mind, bu t I know they Won't be for long. But whether I write down what w.e did, or leave my memories to flwindle in the months ahead, I know that some experiences will only grow richer and more powerful. The abiding and unforgettable experiences are of people -- individuals, unique in all the world. The priest we met in Beijing was bright, capa- ble in several languages, and full of zeal for the Gospel. The young woman we met in a dry goods store in Xian was friendly and eager to use the few words of English at her command. Despite our total lack of Chinese, we learned she was a secretary. Her father is an engineer, her mother, a factory worker. She signed her name in our guide book, and even though we cannot read the characters, we will remember her. A family in Tiananmen Square took a picture of their daughter and my wife standing together. We must have been the first Westerners they had ever seen, and they wanted a picture to show to their friends. They, too, had come to a memorable place -- but the memory they would brag about to friends would start with something like, "Guess who we saw when we went to Beijing!" The feeling must be universal. Places and thing s go begging in comparison to such richness, such depth, such mystery present in the human persons, body and soul. The experience of meeting real people is already written down in our hearts. Take the time today to reflect on the people you have met this past summer. Perhaps they were friends encountered on your vacation, or re-discovered at a reunion. Or perhaps they were tile people upon whom and within whom the Gospel st0"i' ries have come alive for yo u. Make an effort to "write them down" among people for whom you pray. =F 1b Help a child meet a new friend. Get to know a foreign exchange student and the student's family. Welcome a stranger at church, and become a friend. Take the time to make a difference in another per- son's life. Comments about this column are welcome at prleing@cfm.org or the Christian Family Movement, P.O. Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. School reform: Catholic educators should participate By CAROL ZIMMERMANN Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Fif- teen years after a negative report on public schools was issued, many of the same problems exist and may only continue, unless some unlikely allies, like Catholic educators, lend a hand. The 1983 report, "A Nation At Risk," compiled by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, warned of a "rising tide of mediocrity" taking over the nation's public schools and threatening our country's future. When the report came out, today's high school seniors had- n't even started school. But now, not much has changed as these students face their graduating year. Grim statistics of the low test scores of American students, seem to come fast and furious, but as one college professor 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711  Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Press of Evanswlle E ..................................... PPL SW ........................... UHu Address aU  to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $1 8.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as t mat',er at t't)e pos .:, in Evansw, N 47701. Pu0to nurr'ber 843800 Postmaster: Return POD ms 3579 to O.e of Pt,eiicaor. Cooyrig 1998  Press of Evarlie notes, they should by no means make Catholic educators smug in the academic success of their own schools. "Rather than gloat and say, 'We're doing better,' we should be dreadfully concerned" about the state of public schools, said Thomas Groome, professor of theology and religious education at Boston College. Each new statistic of how stu- dents can't read or compute basic math, understand history or science is "more dismal than the next," said Groome. The fig- ures also tend to promote a self- congratulatory attitude among Catholic educators which comes across as "triumphalist or a one up," and "not a Catholic attitude at all," he added. Even from a purely self-inter- est point of view, that he described as "narrow," Groome said Catholics should be gravely concerned about public schools, because 80-85 percent of Catholic children attend them. But beyond that, he said, Catholics should also "commit to the common good of society of which a strong school system is central." Catholic educators also have much to contribute in the public discourse of school reform "out of our own long tradition of edu- cation," he told Catholic News Service. Groome serves on a National Catholic Educational Association committee that has proposed the U.S. bishops write a pastoral let- ter about education as a public policy concern. "It's ironic, if not embarrass- ing, that the only major issue the bishops haven't addressed is education," he said. Three years ago, the U.S. Stories conflict on Communion service To the Editor:. In the July 24 edition of the Message there were two sepa- rate articles containing infor- mation on how Sunday services without a priest should be held which directly contradicted each other. On page 2 you reported on a workshop for certifying parish leaders in which Fr. William Deering said that consecrated hosts from an earlier Mass should not be held over just in case a priest my not be able to get to the church for a Sunday Mass. Instead, the certified leader at a parish should pre- side over a service using Scrip- ture, prayers of petition and the Lord's Prayer. On page 3, in the Vatican Let- ter, the pope states that while the objective must always remain the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass parishes that do not have a priest should still gather on Sundays to pray, listen to the Word of God and, if possible, receive the Eucharist, which a Thank you for "The Secret's out" To the editor:. I write to say Thank You for publishing the Natural Family Planning series, The Secret's Out. It is very informative and I'm intrigued at how wide a range of health care needs can be addressed through the use of this plan. It's wonderful to be reminded that it meets the teachings of the Church and therefore is a very real option for married couples to abide by. The added gift of being a very effective communication tool between spouses is also great. Thank you for letting the secret out! Donna Dilger St. Wendei priest had consecrated earlier. Here we have directly con- tradictory statements from two church leaders. Would you please explain which is cor- rect? This is not a rhetorical question but one of genuine concern. Mike Goedde Evansville Editor's note: Questions raised can not be answered in brief form. Articles on the topic will be pub- lished in future issues of the Message. Catholic Conference's education committee took on this issue i0 their document: "Princi Educational Reform in ed States." _a The document acknow ledg the poor academic of American students and fundamental lack of education basic religious, moral and values." It said the U.S. Catholic ops "want to make a and lasting contribution" and national' discussionS school reform, pointing own success, partic inner-city schools. "We believe that our can learn much from and how we apF important endeavor," ment said. Amohg their sul reform was the the moral and spiritual students.  "Even in our pluralistic; ety, with its many it is possible to reach and teach these and still avoid ic religious faith," it sm But where easily teach moral of their educational public schools are and restrained so, said Leonard See WASHING Installation of Father William Traylor as pastO John the Baptist Church, Vincennes, Saturday, Aug ..... p.m. Mass, National Leadership Training Conference, Na al Catholic Commission on Scouting, Nashville, Tenn., da); Aug. 23, 8:30 a.m.