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August 22, 1997     The Message
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August 22, 1997
 

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4 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana August 22, I , -- Taking the time to make a difference -- Good news can&apos;t be kept a secret A Gospel story reminded me recently of an experience I had as a child I don't remember many of the details, but I can still recall some of the emotion connected to it. My parents had completed some shopping for Christmas, I clearly remember. There was a cer- tain amount of commotion in the house, because we had visitors at the time. One of the visiting children managed to maneuver herself into position to see what my parents had purchased. My mother said to her, quite clearly, that it was o.k. for her to look at the items, but she was not allowed to tell anyone what she saw. I was excluded from the area, because some- thing my parents had bought was clearly intended for me. It was to be a Christmas present, a sur- prise, something to anticipate over the next few days. Within minutes, the visitor -- the one who had given her promise not to reveal anything, the one who had been granted the special privilege -- told me what she had seen. "It's a basketball," she whispered. I turned away, but looking the other way does nothing to block the words of a secret once spoken. "Some news is just too good to contain, even if a By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR person does not want to hear it. The story which prompted my childhood memory was about Jesus curing a deaf man who had an impediment in speech. As told in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears, and spitting, touched his tongue. After Jesus looked up, and said, "Be opened!" the man's ears were opened and he spoke plainly. Jesus "ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they pro- claimed it." A new book, Weekly Prayer Services for Teenagers, uses this gospel account for the first Sunday of September. The author, Sister of Notre Dame M. Valerie Schneider points out that it is usually Jesus who proclaims the good news, but in this case, it is the crowd who can't keep from telling it. The challenge at the beginning of the school year, Sister Schneider wrote, is "to proclaim the good news in word and action." She suggests that a good topic of discussion would be to ask, which is more effective -- pro- claiming God's word in speech or in action? She suggests some actions for students, 0: which could easily be adapted by individuals or families at home. Divide into groups representing home, school, church community and civic community. " od's Word in Draw or hst several ways to proclaim G word and action in these four places. ' Reflect on the thought that, "The only Bible some people read is the one bound in human skin. Write a promise on a card as a response to that thought. "I will be kinder in speech," is the example suggested. Cards could be collected from studentS, or from family members once a month, and used for a brief examination of conscience. * Learn a short prayer in sign language. Sister Schneider suggested this is a way to help think about not being able to hear well, "so that you can become sensitive to those who are challenged in their hearing ability." Members of the Christian Family and all who follow the principles of "Observe, and Act" -- might consider additional make churches and schools more hospitable for per- sons with varying abilities of hearing and speech' : Weekly Prayer Services for Teenagers lished by Twenty.Third Publications, P.O. Box Mystic, CT 06355. (800)321-0411. Comments about this column are welcome at prleing@cfm.org or the Christian Family Movement, P.O. Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. : ------wasnmqzon'*" "-" -'-" Letter , ,, New allies in the battle for school choice By NANCY FRAZIER Senate panel, an Africa " ican parent and MinneSow rg" official summarized the s" ment that the Black Cnber sional Caucus  and elight O'BB3F. Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) Tuition tax credits and vouchers, once considered the goal of only Republicans and Catholics, are also gaining support among black and Jewish groups. Some Democrats are joining the bandwagon, too. State Rep. Glenn Lewis said he was "in the minority of Democrats, and one of only two African-American members of the Legislature who supported the issue of school choice" in Texas. "I joined the debate, and will continue to do everything to fight for school choice because in my heart and mind I know it is the right thing to do," Lewis told a Senate panel in late Jub: At a press conference after the Senate hearing, represen- tatives of the Jewish Policy Center, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of Amer- The MESSAGE 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 of the Diocese of Evansville PuDlished weekly except last week in December by the CatholiC Press of Evansville P .............  C-a A. C,aar ...................................... Paul R. Lein stw ............................ Mary  Address all communcations to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $17.50 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 EntefKI as penod matte' at the post offce in Elnsvlte. IN 47701, Pulicalon rt, rt 84381 ler: Return POD form 3579 to Offce o! Pun 1997 Catho'.c Press ol Evansville . IlL] I I I I III I I I ira and Agudath Israel of Amer- ira spoke out in favor of pub- licly funded vouchers or tax credits that could be used in religious schools. "A growing number of Ameri- cans of all races, religions, eco- nomic brackets and political ide- ologies have expressed support for school choice policies on the federal, state and local levels," said Abba Cohen, director and counsel of Agudath Israel of America's Washington office. "And it is important for Con- gress to know of, and to hear from, the diverse communities -- including those in the Ortho- dox Jewish communi.ty who wish to enroll their children in Hebrew day schools and yeshiv- as -- that will benefit from these programs," he added Agudath Israel is an interna- tional Orthodox Jewish move- ment that works in the fields of religion, education, children's welfare and social action Nathan Diament, director of the Institute for PublicAffairs at the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, said support for school choice comes from "a broad and diverse cross- section of American society." 'Once again blacks and Jews are uniting in a common cause, to secure hope and opportunity for all our children through excellent education," he said. "Determining how best to teach a child is a parent's deci- sion, which the government should respect and support, not contest," Diament added. "We look forward to working with the African-American community, the Catholic com- munity and many others to secure this opportunity for all American families." Cheryl F. Halpern, who chairs the National Jewish Coalition, a group of Jewish Republicans, said school choice can help Jews in the "fight against assimila- tion" by helping parents to send their children to Jewish schools. "We are losing our children," she said. "These parental choice education programs give us the opportunity to save them." Not every Jewish group sup- ports school choice, however. In a statement distributed before the press conference, Phil Baum, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, said his organization opposes vouch- ers "not only because they are a clear violation of the First Amendment separation of church and state, but because they would provide a diversion of resources from the public schools at a time when the schools face enormous challenges." Based on similar arguments, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People voted at its annual convention in July to oppose school vouchers But Rep. Floyd Flake, D-N.Y., said the topic has even come up tbr cliscussion by the 30-member Congressional Black Caucus this sumlner. "This is a phenomenal step," said Flake, an African Methodist Episcopal minister and longtime supporter of school choice. "Ordi- narily our posture has been: 'Public schools at all costs. Noth- ing else can ever be considered. We're not even going to hear it." The new openness in the Con- gressional Black Caucus might have something to do with recent polls that show growing support foi" school choice in the black community. A survey by the Washington- based Joint Center for Politi- cal and Economic Studies found that support for vouch- ers among African-Americans increased by more than 10 per- centage points between Janu- ary 1996 and June 1997. The latest survey showed that 57.3 percent of blacks supported school vouchers for use in pub- lic, private or parochial schools, an increase of 10.6 percentage points over the 47.9 percent of blacks who supported them 18 months earlier. A larger majority of Hispan- ics (65.4 percent) said they sup- ported vouchers, while whites were evenly divided at 47.2 percent in favor and 47.4 per- cent opposed Among African-Americans, 86.5 percent of those between 26 and 35 and 66.4 percent of those ages 18-25 supported the use of vouchers. The only African- American group in which a majority opposed vouchers were those over 50. But in testimony before the members of Congress  m be most likely to hee;d. : : "This debate is not abOt! vate vs. public educatioI' about kids. Kids who are rently failing. Kids on the ash heap," Fridge, nesota Department o: Rights and mother "We eration to pass through J that does not change, work and does not tition," she added. "W ourselves and especl kids to act now." Assumption of Mary shows our eternal destiny, pope says CASTEL GANI)OLFO, Italy (CNS) --- The Blessed Virgin Mary's assumption into heaven reminds Christians of the glory that awaits them alter death, Pope John Paul II said. In the example of Mary, "assumed into heaven, we are shown the eternal destiny which awaits us beyond the mystery of death: a destiny of full happi- ness in divine glory," the pope said during Mass Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption. From her exalted place in heav(.n. Mary watches believers, he said Mass at Castel summer residence Rome. The fact that assumed, body heaven, he said, "very high human being, inci her corporeal For his midday the Angelus, the pope' by hundreds of from several countrieS' ....  <  ...... !? : ':i )}ii'i;ii!ii:) Bishops' Region VII Retreat, Mundelein, Ill., , day, Aug. 24 through Thursday, Aug. 28. National Black Congress VII, Baltimore, Md.' ,rbu: day, Aug. 28 through Saturday, Aug. 30.