Bishop, universities push for DACA solution

WASHINGTON DACA DEMONSTRATION

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals supporters demonstrate near the White House in Washington Sept. 5. (CNS photo)

 

BY MARY SOLBERG | FAITHLIFE
AND CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

    Bishop Lawrence Persico and Erie’s Gannon University and Mercyhurst University joined the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in pushing for a legislative solution to President Donald Trump’s decision Sept. 5 to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

DACA was established through executive action in 2012 by President Barack Obama. Congress could not agree then on legislation that would have legalized youth brought to the U.S. as children.

Hours after President Trump rescinded DACA, he challenged Congress to come up with a legal way to protect DACA’s 800,000 beneficiaries.

If Congress doesn’t act in six months, Trump vowed to “revisit” the issue.

“The United States of America made promises to young people known as the ‘dreamers,’ immigrants whose parents brought them across the border into the United States before their 16th birthday,” Bishop Persico said in a statement Sept. 6.

Bishop Persico, who also is chairperson of Gannon’s board of trustees, called on lawmakers to find a legislative solution to the matter.

Mercyhurst President Michael Victor, in a statement the same day, encouraged the community to urge legislators “to seek a long-term remedy that will afford these young people the opportunity to study and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation.”

Victor added: “DACA beneficiaries at Mercyhurst University have been commendable students and their presence has enriched the learning environment for our entire community. Mercyhurst stands with its founding Sisters of Mercy, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other Catholic organizations in support of compassionate immigration reform.”

Gannon University joined Bishop Persico in his push for a compassionate solution.  President Keith Taylor said: “We stand with our bishop in his call for a sound legislative solution, and we stand with our students who may be affected by the rescinding of DACA.”

Bishop Jose Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration; Sister Donna Markham, president of Catholic Charities USA; and Jeanne Atkinson, executive director of Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC) have issued a letter calling on President Trump to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

“Your decision to continue this program would ensure that young people can continue to work, study, and be protected from deportation while Congress debates broader legislative fixes to our broken immigration system.

“A decision to end this program would turn our nation’s back on immigrant youth who are seeking to reach their full God-given potential and fulfill the promise of gratefully giving back to the only country most have ever known,” the letter notes.

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NATURE’S FURY: Gannon’s Florida campus weathers the storm

HURRICANE HARVEY TEXAS

Residents wade through floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey Aug. 28 in Beaumont Place, Texas. (CNS  photo)

BY MARY SOLBERG | FAITHLIFE

   Sara Golshiri, a first-year doctoral student at Gannon University’s satellite campus in Ruskin, Fla., is a transplanted Northerner who’s never experienced the ravages of a hurricane.

The weekend of Sept. 10-11 changed all that. Life-threatening Hurricane Irma churned over the Sunshine State, forcing what some consider to be the largest mass evacuation in U.S. history.

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Sara Golshiri

Golshiri, 23, was among thousands of university students from throughout the state who were advised that classes were cancelled until further notice.

“Honestly, prepping for the hurricane was the most terrifying thing I’ve done,” Golshiri told FaithLife via text from her refuge with friends north of the Ruskin campus. “This is my first hurricane and I had to go into it blind. Thankfully, we have a good network at school and in the community to provide us with information.”

Gannon University officials in Erie were in close contact with Ruskin’s physical plant manager before, during and after the hurricane. Classes were cancelled beginning Sept. 7 and were expected, at press time, to resume Sept. 18.

According to Dr. Sarah Ewing, the Erie-based dean of the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences, students received text and email alerts, and Gannon President Keith Taylor issued a video expressing his heartfelt concern.

“Student safety was and continues to be our top priority,” Ewing said.

Ruskin

Gannon University’s Ruskin campus in Florida reportedly sustained little damage from Hurricane Irma. (Contributed photo)

The graduate/doctoral-level campus is located no more than a half-hour’s drive from the Gulf Coast, which was expected to be one of the hardest hit areas. As it turned out, Irma weakened as it traveled inland.

Buildings on the Ruskin campus experienced no structural damage from the high winds, but there was minimal ground water seepage, Ewing said.

Golshiri commended Gannon for maintaining ongoing communication, even after students moved to safe locations.

She added, “I felt very supported and I’m thankful that it was not as bad as it could have been.”

A native of Maryland studying occupational therapy, Golshiri said she went from “worrying about snowstorms to worrying about hurricanes.” Now she’s eager to get back to her house in Ruskin.

“I’m spending the next couple of days cleaning,” she said.

In a statement released during Irma’s onslaught, President Taylor told Ruskin students, “May God bless you, and may He bless your families and all those you love. May you be blessed with His safety, security and help in these days of challenge.”

CUBA HURRICANE IRMA

A man is rescued from a flooded neighborhood in Havana, Cuba, after Hurricane Irma swept through the Caribbean and then made its way to Florida. (CNS photo)

Before Hurricane Irma hit Florida, Hurricane Harvey pummeled southern Texas and caused unprecedented devastation. Bishop Lawrence Persico asked parishes throughout the 13-county Diocese of Erie to hold a special hurricane relief collection Sept. 2-3.

At press time, more than a dozen parishes donated nearly $37,000. All of those funds will be forwarded to Catholic Charities USA, the agency working with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Those wishing to donate to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts may still give at www.ErieRCD.org.

Students at Villa Maria Academy and Cathedral Prep in Erie held a dress-down day to support the work of the American Red Cross in Texas.

The Kennedy Catholic Family of Schools in Hermitage and Seton School in Meadville held similar events, raising a total of $3,000 to help Harvey victims.

On Sept. 8, the Prep and McDowell High School football teams put aside their rivalry and agreed to donate receipts from their game to benefit Texas emergency efforts.

 

SEARCHING for GOD: Monk offers contemplative prayer retreat 

1 Meninger

StaFather William Meninger, OCSO

FaithLife staff report

The laity need contemplation more than anyone else because of the stresses of everyday life, according to Father William Meninger, OCSO, a Trappist monk who will be in Erie this month to present a two-day retreat at Mount St. Benedict Monastery.

“Lay people live in a situation that doesn’t necessarily commend itself to quiet and meditation,” Father Meninger told FaithLife in a phone interview. “But they have a greater need for it because of the hectic life people live today.”

One of three principal architects of the Contemplative Prayer movement, Father Meninger will lead the Sept. 15-16 retreat, The Loving Search for God, which is the title of his popular 1994 book printed by Bloomsbury Publishing. The Loving Search for God was inspired by the anonymous 14th-century spiritual classic, The Cloud of Unknowing, a little-known, dusty volume that Father Meninger found in 1974 in the library at St. Joseph Abbey in Spencer, Mass.

Although written in Middle English, The Cloud of Unknowing provided what Father Meninger considered a simple, teachable process by which to learn contemplative prayer. It would, he thought, enable the average person to prayerfully experience God.

He immediately began teaching contemplative prayer, using The Cloud of Unknowing as a guide. With his colleagues, Father Basil Pennington and Father Thomas Keating, he reintroduced the volume to the world and organized the Contemplative Prayer movement.

In the mid-1970s, contemplative prayer was “almost completely dead,” Father Meninger said, except in cloisters, convents or abbeys.

“No one even suspected it was a kind of prayer they could do,” he said.

In 1994, he published The Loving Search for God. Today, at age 85, he still is presenting workshops on the various aspects of contemplation as an advanced form of prayer. Centering prayer as taught in The Cloud of Unknowing is just one of many forms of contemplation.

“It’s simply loving God. This is the highest form of prayer you can do,” he said. “Everyone is called to love God.”

He believes the daily practice of contemplation is “transformative” and can lead to an elevated sense of insight and experience of God. One has only to look at the fruits of Pope Francis’ papacy, he said, to see the benefit of centering one’s thoughts and prayers on God alone.

“He [Pope Francis] has a handle on the pulse of the world,” Father Meninger said. “He’s not blinded by his position or the entrenchment of people who surround him and who are oblivious to what is going on in the church.”

The weekend retreat is sponsored by St. George and Our Lady of Mercy parishes, both in Erie, the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, and House of Prayer in Erie.

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RETREAT SEPT. 15-16

The Loving Search for God

Cost: $95, which includes the retreat program and four meals.

Register online at www.stgeorgeerie.org/news/weekend-retreat.

For more information, contact Joe Sarbak at 814-746-1015.

Inner-city school opens with new name

1 MTA

Jamie Brim, principal at the new Mother Teresa Academy, welcomes Baylee Lightner to her first-grade year. 

Story and photos by Mary Solberg

The first day of school was filled with firsts Aug. 28 at the newly named Mother Teresa Academy in inner-city Erie.

New principal, Jamie Brim, greeted the elementary school’s students who poured through the front doors of the brick building on E. 9th Street. For the past century, the school has been known as Holy Family, but declining enrollment and financial concerns prompted the Diocese of Erie to rename it and reassess its outreach as a mission school.

Brim’s jitters and excitement matched that of first-graders Baylee Lightner and Olivia Hughes, who walked past the large statue of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Holy Family that has greeted students for generations.

“To run a school named after Mother Teresa is really overwhelming,” Brim said. “I have very big shoes to fill. I just want to be the very best for these kids.”

Brim wore a necklace engraved with a quote from Mother Teresa: “Do small things with great love.”

“It’s our philosophy here, day by day,” Brim added.

2 mta

Amber Hughes, standing, introduces her daughter, Olivia, to first-grade art teacher, Griffin Currie.

First-grader Olivia Hughes walked into school with her mother, Amber Hughes, a graduate of Holy Family. Olivia attended a nearby public school for kindergarten, but was enrolled in Mother Teresa this year after Bishop Lawrence Persico announced its innovative tuition structure.

“It’s nice because we wanted to send her to a Catholic school last year, but it was just not affordable,” Amber Hughes said. “I knew Holy Family was a really good school for me, so I know she’ll be really good here, too.”

Although annual tuition will be set at $5,000, those who qualify for free lunch under the Federal Poverty Guidelines for Free and Reduced Lunch will only have to pay $250 per year. Families who qualify for reduced lunches pay $500 per year. Needy families also benefit from before- and after-school care as part of the tuition costs.

Mother Teresa is modeled after Jubilee Catholic Schools in Memphis, Tenn., and other cities.

“I like it and I’m a little shy,” Olivia Hughes admitted before meeting her art teacher, Griffin Currie.

Currie also is new to the school; it’s her first year of teaching.

“I am very excited. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for the kids,” Currie said.

1 mta sign

This Jesus, Mary and Joseph statue had been a fixture at Holy Family School, Erie, but now looks over the new logo for Mother Teresa Academy.

First-grader Baylee Lightner happily walked into Mother Teresa on the first day. She was a veteran, after all, having been in kindergarten at Holy Family. Her aunt, Jessica Green, dropped her off, along with Green’s son, Shane, a sixth-grader.

Despite the tuition reduction, Green said she still would gladly pay whatever it costs for a Catholic education.

“I have no other choice but to send my son to a Catholic school in order to keep our faith. I feel like kids need more church in their lives,” Green said.

Enrollment at Mother Teresa Academy doubled from what it was at Holy Family last year, jumping to 188 registered students. According to Chris Hagerty, director of strategic initiatives at the Erie Catholic Preparatory School, which includes Cathedral Prep and Villa Maria Academy, there is a waiting list of 100 students eager to take advantage of the tuition break and enhanced academic environment.

An initial round of philanthropic community support and one “substantial” gift from an anonymous donor made it possible to open Mother Teresa, which will be owned and operated by Prep and Villa.

“Although fundraising has gone exceptionally well, we will always be looking for community partners to continue providing philanthropic support to this amazing mission,” Hagerty told FaithLife.

2 mta doorway

Principal Jamie Brim greets students Aug. 28.

For now, though, Brim is adjusting to her new life as principal and preparing for what is to come. For the past 11 years, she has been a teacher, instructional coach and school-wide support faculty at Wayne Middle School in the Erie School District.

Her husband helped landscape the front of the school in preparation for the first day of classes. And her staff welcomed children with chalk drawings on the sidewalk outside the school.

In January, Mother Teresa will open at its new site at the former St. Peter Cathedral School, located fewer than two miles away at W. 11th and Sassafras streets. Renovations at St. Peter are expected to be completed in late fall.

“There are a lot of great opportunities that are going to happen here,” Brim said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith magazine, FaithLife win big

1 CPA winners2

Staff members Schuyler Stupica, Rich Papalia, Anne-Marie Welsh, Mary Solberg and Elizabeth Butterfield celebrate their CPA awards. Missing from photo are Abby Badach and Brenda Williams.

Faith magazine and FaithLife newspaper of the Diocese of Erie captured nine awards this summer at the Catholic Press Awards in Quebec City, Canada.

The Catholic Press Association presents the awards every year to recognize outstanding work by journalists from across the United States and Canada.

“We are happy to continue to provide our readers with top-quality news and features from our diocesan publications,” said Anne-Marie Welsh, director of communications.

Father McGivney Award

  • Best Story on Volunteerism—“The Heart of Christmas” by Abby Badach

First Place Awards

  • Most Effective Use of Small Space—MercyWorks series
    Rich Papalia and Mary Solberg, FaithLife
  • Best Interview—“I’m Amazed that I’m Still Alive” by Schuyler Stupica, Faith
  • Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues: Solidarity—“Encountering Islam”
    by Schuyler Stupica, Faith
  • Best Reporting of Social Justice Issues: Call to Family, Community and Participation—“Deacon Ralph Shakes Things Up” by Anne-Marie Welsh, Faith

Second Place Awards

  • Best Multiple Picture Package: Year of Mercy—“That’s Mercy? Who Knew”
    by Schuyler Stupica and Anne-Marie Welsh, Faith

Third Place Awards

  • Best Front Page Broadsheet—Mary Solberg, Rich Papalia, FaithLife
  • Best Single Photo: Year of Mercy—“Glass Holy Door Closes” by Mary Solberg, Faith

Honorable Mention

  • Best Title and Lead-in—“I’m Amazed That I’m Still Alive” by Schuyler Stupica.

 

Sister Marie Celeste Bindseil, SSJ, celebrates diamond jubilee

Bindseil 3

Sister Marie Celeste Bindseil, SSJ

Sister Marie Celeste Bindseil, SSJ, originally felt a call to join the foreign missions, but she decided instead to follow what she considered her real call from God: to become a religious sister.

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, she was christened Lieselotte Albina Bindseil, a daughter of the late Edwin and Josephine Bindseil. She also became the stepdaughter of Albina (Weis) Bindseil.

In 1923, when she was only 1, her family sailed to the United States, where she took the name Charlotte Albina Bindseil. It wasn’t until she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania, in 1942, that she was named Sister Marie Celeste. She entered the community from St. John the Baptist Parish in Erie.

She first noticed her call to religious life when she was a student at St. John the Baptist School in Erie. During her high school years at Erie’s Academy High School, she came to know seminarians who impressed her with their lives of faith. She entered the SSJs in 1942 and professed her final vows on Aug. 15, 1948.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in business education from Villa Maria College, Erie, and took courses in purchasing at Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind., and accounting at IBM and at Penn State-Behrend, Erie.

For 10 years after entering the SSJs, Sister Marie Celeste taught at Sacred Heart School in Erie, St. Agatha School in Meadville, and St. Leo Elementary/High School in Ridgway. She then ministered for 38 years at Saint Vincent Hospital in various positions, including director of admissions, director of purchasing, equipment coordinator, patient advocate and chaplain. She retired from Saint Vincent in 1991, after serving for more than 10 years as its pastoral care chaplain.

From 1960-74, she was active with the Hospital Purchasing Agents of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Additionally, Sister Marie Celeste worked as an advocate for the Diocese of Erie’s Marriage Tribunal, and she served as a receptionist at the Villa Maria Conference Center and the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network, both in Erie.

She volunteered at the Regional Cancer Center in Erie and helped minister to ill members of her religious community after moving to the congregation’s Community Living Center in 1993.

She currently participates in the community’s Prayer Call Ministry, and continues to hold membership in the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

She regularly practices her native German and still loves to play Scrabble and other challenging games.

Through 75 years of religious life, Sister Marie Celeste has grown in her dependence on God’s graces. She describes her life today as a “ministry of prayer.”

“One needs a deep and intimate relationship with God, putting him first in life,” she says. “God desires that we grow in our love for him, our knowledge of him and a life of service to him…that we would be holy and blameless before him.”

Sister Marie Celeste Bindseil, SSJ, celebrates diamond jubilee

Bindseil 3

Sister Marie Celeste Bindseil, SSJ

Sister Marie Celeste Bindseil, SSJ, originally felt a call to join the foreign missions, but she decided instead to follow what she considered her real call from God: to become a religious sister.

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, she was christened Lieselotte Albina Bindseil, a daughter of the late Edwin and Josephine Bindseil. She also became the stepdaughter of Albina (Weis) Bindseil.

In 1923, when she was only 1, her family sailed to the United States, where she took the name Charlotte Albina Bindseil. It wasn’t until she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania, in 1942, that she was named Sister Marie Celeste. She entered the community from St. John the Baptist Parish in Erie.

She first noticed her call to religious life when she was a student at St. John the Baptist School in Erie. During her high school years at Erie’s Academy High School, she came to know seminarians who impressed her with their lives of faith. She entered the SSJs in 1942 and professed her final vows on Aug. 15, 1948.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in business education from Villa Maria College, Erie, and took courses in purchasing at Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind., and accounting at IBM and at Penn State-Behrend, Erie.

For 10 years after entering the SSJs, Sister Marie Celeste taught at Sacred Heart School in Erie, St. Agatha School in Meadville, and St. Leo Elementary/High School in Ridgway. She then ministered for 38 years at Saint Vincent Hospital in various positions, including director of admissions, director of purchasing, equipment coordinator, patient advocate and chaplain. She retired from Saint Vincent in 1991, after serving for more than 10 years as its pastoral care chaplain.

From 1960-74, she was active with the Hospital Purchasing Agents of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Additionally, Sister Marie Celeste worked as an advocate for the Diocese of Erie’s Marriage Tribunal, and she served as a receptionist at the Villa Maria Conference Center and the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network, both in Erie.

She volunteered at the Regional Cancer Center in Erie and helped minister to ill members of her religious community after moving to the congregation’s Community Living Center in 1993.

She currently participates in the community’s Prayer Call Ministry, and continues to hold membership in the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

She regularly practices her native German and still loves to play Scrabble and other challenging games.

Through 75 years of religious life, Sister Marie Celeste has grown in her dependence on God’s graces. She describes her life today as a “ministry of prayer.”

“One needs a deep and intimate relationship with God, putting him first in life,” she says. “God desires that we grow in our love for him, our knowledge of him and a life of service to him…that we would be holy and blameless before him.”