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November 14, 1997     The Message
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November 14, 1997
 

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Everyday hopes and promises By PAUL R LEINGANG Editor The rental company promised to have the car at our house at 5:30 in the evening. The time approached, came, and went -- with no sign of the car which had been promised. A phone call to the company a half hour later brought no satisfaction. The office had closed at 6 p.m. A promise had been made, and broken. Our waiting was over, and all we had to show for it was disappointment. The modern world is full of the fast. Food is fast, banking is quick, credit is instantaneous. Yet, despite our quickness to consume, we wait at times, and we wait with impatience, and we wait with flickering hopes, and at times we wait for things that never happen. A high school friend from Michigan has sent me e-mail -- a letter delivered electronically, from his computer to mine, almost instantly. I haven't written back for over a week, and I suspect that he is waiting and wondering about my reply. A close friend from college days once gave my wife and me a quotation burned into a board that had been weathered and worn. The wood showed so deeply the signs of passing time, of many days of sun and many more of rain and cold. And the words, cut deeply into the wood, were true: "To wait for someone is to say that the present does not begin until he arrives." The time of waiting passes slowly -- but when the present begins, when the awaited one arrives, time is no longer important. The season of Advent is upon us. For many Christians, it is the time to celebrate waiting -- an unusual idea, to say the least. Our senses are filled with the sighs and sounds of a world which wants to give us what we want right now. The very idea may seem foreign h to take the time to examine and enjoy the season of waiting, putting the present on hold, so to speak. I admire the steadfast faith I find in the Hebrew scriptures. I wonder if I could have waited with such hope for a Messiah. I fear my faith would have gone the way of my trust in the car rental company. A half hour was enough to kill my confi- dence; I marvel at a people whose hope remained alive day after day, lifetime after lifetime, through generation after generation. My trust was lost in a car rental company, but theirs was preserved-in the one God. Spend some time talking with your children or with others in your household about waiting. When did you wait for someone? When did you wait for some event? Take a good look at your neig city or town, too. Who among your waiting? Who among them has hope? trust? Plan now to observe Advent as a ing. Identify one instant activity or (for the body or the soul) that you -- and concentrate on the time you spent for it. Use that time for a prayer for has given up hope. With family or friends, take an action make time more pleasant for someone w ing. See if you can provide wort material in waiting rooms. Examine your church community someone who is waiting for a welcome from the community. Help observance of the various times of for First Communion, for reception for baptism or reconciliation. Write a letter or send e-mail to a tive who has been waiting to hear from Take the time to make a difference. Comments about this column are prleing@cfm.org or the Christian Famih P.O. Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. ! Welfare's charitable choice provision: is it reform By NANCY HARTNAGEL Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) "Charitable choice," a provi- sion in the new federal welfare law, was intended to encour- age faith-based organizations to expand their involvement in the welfare reform effort, according to its sponsor, Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo. The provision -- Section 104 in the law m says states allowing independent-sector providers to deliver social services may not exclude providers because they have "a religious character." It also protects the religious integrity of participating faith- based providers and the reli- gious freedom of welfare recip- ients. In addition, recipients are guaranteed the right to choose a nonreligious independent-sec- tor provider for services. Ashcroft observed last year that many states already had experienced positive results from partnerships with faith- based organizations. "These institutions have proven to be efficient and effec- tive while serving the poor with dignity and compassion," he said in a guide to the provision. But, more than a year after enactment, the provision's impact remains unclear, partic- ularly for larger faith-based groups that historically have contracted with the govern- ment. "We don't know how charita- ble choice is going to affect our local agencies," said Sharon Daly, deputy to the president of Catholic Charities USA, a net- work of 1,400 social service agencies and institutions based in Alexandria, Va. Both proponents and oppo- nents of charitable choice over- estimated "how much of a change this is going to be," Daly observed. Bert J. Goldberg, executive vice president of the Association of Jewish Family and Children's Agencies in Kendall Park, N.J., said he hopes charitable choice will provide "lots more oppor- tunity, but so many local (gov- ernment) entities haven't yet decided what to do or how they're going to do it." Salvation Army Lt. Col. Paul Bollwahn, the national social services consultant at the Army's Alexandria headquar- ters, said it's "a little early to tell" what kind of impact the provision will have. "Many of the states are only months-old in their planning and development," he said. But he noted a case in Spring- field, Ill., where local officials, once they became aware of the intent of the provision, reversed themselves and awarded a con- tract to the local Salvation Army corps. Bollwahn said he suspects "charitable choice is not so much having an effect on the big providers who have fought the battle for the last 30 years." In fact, the biggest faith-based providers -- Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, Salva- tion Army and various Jewish agencies  already have gov- ernment contracts running into the billions of dollars. According to Daly, the annual total cash income of local Catholic Charities agencies is $2 billion, and 60 percent of it, or $1.2 billion, comes from gov- ernment contracts. Joanne Negstad is president of Lutheran Services in Amer- ica, an umbrella organization in St. Paul, Minn., for 280 cor- porations affiliated with the two largest national Lutheran church bodies: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The total income of its corpo- rate members for fiscal year '97, which ended June 30, was $3 billion, Negstad told Catholic News Service. About 50 percent of that, or $1.5 billion, was fed- eral, state.and/or local govern- ment money To understand the scope, Negstad added, the largest member, a, corporation called the Good Samaritan Society, operates 236 nursing homes for the elderly Bollwahn provided CNS with figures on the Salvation Army's government-funded programs for fiscal year 1996. Local Salva- tion Army corps throughout the country entered into more than 2,000 contracts with govern- ment entities, totaling more than $160 million. The 145 members of the Asso'- ciation of Jewish Family and Children's Agencies have "or are in process of getting" about $10 million in government con- Office of Development, said, take a period of see what are the opening up to based But she sees it as velous opt people in both parishes could resources and skills 4200 N. Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 W newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Pub#st wee/dy except /ast week/n December by lhe Calho#c Pre of Evann4 ................................... Pa R.LW ................................ P N,d AddmU  commun4catkx to P.O. Box 4tee, , iN 47724-0169 rate: $17.50 per year Single Copy Price: S.50  m pedl mat at ele post oce in v=,imle, I 47t01. llliOn nuoer 8438. ltmas': Raum IK)0 forms 3579 to Office of lg97  Press of Evans .:i!!!ii ,Z tracts, Goldberg said. Bollwahn believes charitable choice "is going to be a real help- ful law" for smaller providers that are not part of a nationwide network. "There are thousands of locally independent Single settlement houses or churches that do a social work practice," he added. He also said the provision will "encourage states and counties. When they subcon- tract, they are compelled to include in the mix, to give level proposal ground, to these inde- pendent organizations." Patricia King, who monitors health and welfare issues for the U.S. Catholic Conference ple move from welfare for example, througla i and mentorin The charitable sion has no bt for evaluation, with whom CNS sP 0 feedback on the impact is anecdotal. Daly said, "One nonprofits have money to follow up tions." But she foundations or might begin to fund outcome research. In the meantime, Ashcroft's the senator See Confirmation, St. Joseph Church, Princeton 15, 6 p.m. CST. Brut4 Society, Holy Redeemer Church, day, Nov. 16, 2 p.m. CST. Principals" Retreat, Spring Mill State Park, 16, through Tuesday, Nov. 18. Finance Council, Councils Room, Ca Wednesday, Nov. 19, 4 p.m CST. Mass for Religious Education class at Holy Church, Evansville, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m. Indiana Catholic Conference review and sors, Sarto, Evansville, Thursday, Nov. 20, 11:15 a.r. Forum on the Voice of Youth: Shaping the Third nium, Kansas City, Thursday, Nov. 20, throu Nov. 22.