Chaplains help foster pros spiritual side

VANCOUVER - Pro athletes receive huge salaries and benefit from armies of professionals behind the scenes tending to their mental and physical health so they can perform at the top of their game.

However, when the pressure takes its toll on players and they start to feel spiritually drained, the sports chaplain’s ministry comes into play.

“Our purpose is to serve the community within the team, and our focus is on the person, not their position,” said Dave Klassen, national pro ministry director for Athletes in Action, Canada, whose members work to nurture the spiritual side of athletes. “We’re not trying to find a cure for the athlete so that they can get out on the field and perform as quickly as possible; we care about the whole person.”

After 75 years of service, only one proposal worthy for this sister

FORT SASKATCHEWAN, ALTA. - At age 18, Ada Toner was still contemplating what to do with her life. She had no parents, no education and no profession. As well, within the span of a year, she had received marriage proposals from four different men.

“I was picking berries one day, and I looked over and asked myself which one of those guys would I like to spend the rest of my life with. Then I saw the face of Jesus, and I don’t know if it was in the clouds or a feeling within me or what it was,” she said.

This was her first calling to religious life — a calling she was at first reluctant to accept. She felt like a nobody, with nothing of value to offer the Church. But she took hold of the opportunity and on Sept. 8, 1936 joined the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception.

Long search ends for sister

EDMONTON - While others around her believed she would make a good sister, it took Sr. Christina Wong a long time to realize it herself.

As a high school student in Hong Kong, she was asked by the sisters who ran the school whether she had considered becoming a nun.

“I was under 20 and I didn’t take their question too seriously because in a convent school the sisters looked after the students,” said Wong, seeing a reverence in them that she did not see in herself.

But after years of searching, Wong made her perpetual vows as a Sister of Providence Sept. 17 at the chapel of Providence Renewal Centre.

From Chile to a religious call in Canada

EDMONTON - By most standards, Sr. Loreto Andrea Leon Soto was like any other girl growing up in Santiago, Chile. Becoming a nun never occurred to the young girl who had a normal upbringing with close friends and a boyfriend.

But enter religious life she did. After five years of religious formation, Leon made her first profession of vows Sept. 20 at Providence Renewal Centre.

Leon came from a strong Catholic home where faith was essential. Christmas and Holy Week were more than just liturgical celebrations, they were a time to fully express the faith.

Justice office aids refugees

VANCOUVER - The most shocking experience of her life, says Lindseigh Lochhead, was the year she taught English in refugee camps in Thailand.

“I met many who had been persecuted. The conditions in the camps lacked dignity, and many despaired of ever being able to return home,” said the administrator of the Refugee Outreach Program of the Office of Service and Justice of the Vancouver archdiocese.

Shaken but not discouraged, Lochhead became determined to help. She returned to Vancouver to get a degree, expecting to return to Thailand. Instead an opportunity opened up to work with refugees coming to Canada through government sponsorship programs.

Church must move closer to Gospel, not to worldly values, pope says

FREIBURG, Germany - The church must change to respond to the Gospel call and the needs of real people, but that change must be dictated by Christian values and not by greater adaptation to the values of the modern world, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Meeting Sept. 25 with about 1,500 Catholics involved in church ministries, lay movements and civic, political or social activities, the pope said he knows Germany is experiencing a decline in religious practice and is seeing many of its members drift away from church life.

The audience, which included German President Christian Wulff, gave the pope a standing ovation when he finished his speech.

Despite challenges, Catholics in India must evangelize

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - Despite challenges, hardship and trials, Catholics in India must continue to evangelize, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"You must always be prepared to spread the Kingdom of God and to walk in the footsteps of Christ, who was himself misunderstood, despised, falsely accused and who suffered for the sake of truth," the pope told a group of bishops from India.

India has seen a steady rise in anti-Christian violence since the 1990s and the passage of anti-conversion laws in some states. Without specifying "the challenges that the missionary nature of the church entails," the pope told the bishops to "not be deterred when such trials arise."

Seders give Christians the Passover experience

A rabbi holds up matzos during a Passover Seder. More Christians are experiencing this at interfaith Seders. (CNS photo)Christians can’t think of the Easter Triduum, let alone live through it, without thinking of the Passover. Increasingly, Christians are letting that thought lead them to an authentic experience of the Jewish Passover in interfaith Seders.

A Seder is a family meal that ritually re-enacts the Exodus story. It’s the beginning of the Jewish celebration of Passover. Foods served at the Seder are connected directly with the Exodus and the story of Israel’s escape from Egypt is retold, reading the Haggadah aloud through the course of the meal. The Haggadah is a sort of expansion of the Bible story with roots in the Mishnah, a collection of Jewish writings based on oral tradition.

“It’s a story of liberation,” explains Beth Porter. “We’re really meant to appropriate that story for ourselves as we sit at the Seder table — to think about our own journey from bondage to freedom.”

Pope earmarks Holy Thursday collection for disaster relief in Japan

Men sit amid debris in an area that was destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, in Minamisanriku, Miyagi prefecture, in northern Japan, April 6. (CNS photo/Toru Hanai, Reuters) VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI has decided the collection taken up at his Holy Thursday evening Mass will be used to help those affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan.

The March 11 disaster left more than 13,000 people dead and another 13,700 unaccounted for. More than 150,000 were made homeless and many lost their jobs, especially in the fishing industry.

Each year, the Pope chooses where to send the collection taken up during the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the diocese of Rome.

'Silent Night' gains World Heritage List recognition from UNESCO

'SIlent Night' has been added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in recognition of its role in fostering cultural diversity. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemit z) WARSAW, Poland - The world's most popular Christmas carol, "Silent Night," has been added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in recognition of its role in fostering cultural diversity.

"This is a song of freedom for the world, whose beautiful melody and text have inspired versions in more than 300 languages," Michael Neureiter, president of Austria's Silent Night Society, told Catholic News Service.

"Although it comes from the Catholic tradition, its calm, harmonic sound has made it accessible internationally. As such, it's not just a Christian song, but also a human song."

"Stille Nacht," or "Silent Night," was written as a poem in 1816 by Fr. Joseph Mohr in Mariapfarr, where he was assigned as an assistant parish priest. It premiered as a carol for two solo voices on Christmas Eve 1818 at the newly established St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, near Salzburg, with music composed by the church organist, Franz Gruber.

Truth still matters

Lack of honesty the root cause of most problemsWith campaign jets soaring over the land and campaign buses rolling down highways, it’s sometimes easy for Canadians to be cynical about the honesty of politicians. But truth in politics still matters to Canadians, and politicians recognize it, said Prof. Richard Feist, dean of the faculty of philosophy at Ottawa’s Saint Paul University.

“The incumbent party certainly does not say something like, ‘Well, so what if we were defeated on non-confidence, or not providing (information).’ ” said Feist. “They want to talk as if ‘No, we were defeated on the budget.’ ”

Feist runs the Masters in Public Ethics program at Saint Paul, training civil servants in the philosophy of honesty. Truth, who tells the truth and whether citizens can recognize it, is important in how we run our politics and how we run our country, he said.