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In Egypt, Christians Fear to Buy Food

Worshippers pray in Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima in Cairo

Worshippers pray in the Chaldean Basilica of Our Lady of Fatima in Cairo Aug. 18. Christians, making up 10 percent of Egypt’s 85 million people, have coexisted with the majority Sunni Muslims for centuries. Violence erupted periodically, especially in the impoverished south, but the attacks on churches and Christian properties in the last week were the worst in years.

(CNS) — A Catholic bishop in Luxor, about 400 miles south of Cairo, said Muslims and Christians are afraid to leave their homes; because the shops are closed and no one is venturing outside, many are running out of food.

Coptic Catholic Bishop Youhannes Zakaria of Luxor told Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples: “I’m crying for all these simple people – Muslims and Christians – who live in the villages nearby and don’t have anything because their food supplies are running out and people are afraid to leave their homes.”

“Even those who are well off can’t buy food because all the shops are closed,” he told Fides Aug. 20. “I’d like to go help them myself, but I can’t because I’m also forced to stay inside.”

After Egyptian police and the military broke up camps of demonstrators protesting the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, more demonstrations took place Aug. 16, including in Luxor.

“After being chased from the center of Luxor, the pro-Morsi demonstrators arrived under my residence shouting, ‘Death to the Christians.’ Fortunately, the police arrived in time to save us. Now the police and the army have two armored vehicles parked here,” Bishop Zakaria said.

While the death and destruction in Luxor hasn’t been as bad as in other parts of Egypt, the bishop said the homes of some Christians have been burned, and it seems prudent for people not to go out if possible.

“For security reasons,” he said, they have canceled the Aug. 22 celebrations of the Dormition of Mary, the Eastern equivalent of the feast of the Assumption.

The bishop said the Muslim Brotherhood is going after Christians because “they think Christians are the cause of Morsi’s fall. It’s true that Christians participated in the demonstrations against Morsi, but 30 million Egyptians – most of them Muslims – took to the streets against the deposed president,” he said.

“By attacking Christians, they want to throw Egypt into chaos,” Bishop Zakaria said.

Father Fady Saady, a Coptic Catholic priest in the province of Luxor, said his church had suspended nighttime activities, including games for children and youth meetings, due to the newly imposed 7 p.m. curfew. He said Mass for the Dormition of Mary would be at 5 p.m., instead of the usual 8:30 or 9 p.m.

People walk around a destroyed Protestant church in Mallawi, Egypt, Aug. 17. Christians, making up 10 percent of Egypt's 85 million people, have coexisted with the majority Sunni Muslims for centuries. Violence erupted periodically, especially in the impoverished South, but the attacks on churches and Christian properties in the last week were the worst in years. (CNS photo/Reuters) (Aug. 20, 2013)

People walk around a destroyed Protestant church in Mallawi, Egypt, Aug. 17. Christians, making up 10 percent of Egypt’s 85 million people, have coexisted with the majority Sunni Muslims for centuries. Violence erupted periodically, especially in the impoverished South, but the attacks on churches and Christian properties in the last week were the worst in years. (CNS photo/Reuters) (Aug. 20, 2013)

“There is still a state of nervousness and thoughts that more difficulties lie ahead,” Father Saady told CNS by cellphone from his parish in the city of Naqada Aug. 20.

He said Naqada had “so far” been spared the attacks seen on Christian churches, schools and homes elsewhere throughout Egypt. He said the latest attacks on Christians were worse than those that occurred throughout the 1990s “because (the Muslim Brotherhood) is striking in the open, unlike before when they were striking in secret.”

Egypt’s Coptic Catholic Church has said it supports the country’s military in the face of what it calls “a war on terror” against the Muslim Brotherhood, which church and military officials blame for the attacks on Christian, government and security establishments. The Muslim Brotherhood has denied using violence in its campaign to restore Morsi to office.

On Aug. 20, Egypt’s Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak sent condolences to the families of soldiers killed in the Aug. 19 attack in the country’s Sinai region.

He called the dead soldiers “martyrs” and said the church was asking God to give their families “consolation and patience in this ordeal.”

He did not mention at least 35 prisoners who died in a prison van in Cairo Aug. 18. Egyptian security says they were killed trying to escape, but Brotherhood members and other opposition forces say they were killed in cold blood.

On Aug. 19, another Coptic Catholic official accused those attacking Christian and government facilities of trying to foment strife and destroy the state, something he said “will not happen.”

“Egypt’s Christians and Muslims are from the same thread…the people will remain united and the Lord will protect Egypt and its entire beloved people,” said Father Hani Bakhoum Kiroulos, assistant to Patriarch Sedrak.

“­­­­­­­­­­­What remains in my mind is the image of Muslims trying to extinguish the flames and saving priests and nuns. This is the Egypt we were raised in and want to live in,” he said on his Facebook page.

Contributing to this story was James Martone in Istanbul.

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Bolivia the Site of Korean Apostolate’s Mission

by Katherina Hwang

The Diocese of Brooklyn’s Korean Apostolate made its sixth annual mission trip to Cristo Salvador parish in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Volunteer activities included building houses and visiting the local day-care center.

The Diocese of Brooklyn’s Korean Apostolate made its sixth annual mission trip to Cristo Salvador parish in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Volunteer activities included building houses and visiting the local day-care center.

The Korean Apostolate of the  Brooklyn Diocese held its sixth annual Bolivia Mission Trip.

The volunteers had helped the Cristo Salvador parish – Father Francisco Ma, pastor – located in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, from July 1-13, mainly by building a chapel in Brecha Dies, a countryside region that lacks electricity.

The volunteers also attended a Sunday Mass with the local community, visited a center for special education, a day-care center run by a nearby convent and other voluntary activities.

 The volunteers were led by two priests, Father Francis Javier Jung and Father Benedict Jun, and by one lay coordinator, Katharina Hwang. Volunteers came from four participating Korean communities in each parish – St. Paul Chong Ha-Sang, Holy Spirit, St. Robert Bellarmine and Korean Martyrs’. They were Mitchell Lee, Sojeung Sally Park, Sung Won Choi, Willfree Kim, Tae Jung Kim, Michelle Heegoo Kim, Jin Soo Kim, Justin Jun Kim, Su Min Kim, Michael Joonho Chong, Suyeon Shin, Yooyeon Shim, Elisabeth Eunsun Yoo and Jennifer Sook Yun.

In its sixth anniversary year, the Bolivia Mission was started in 2008, and the program settled a firm relation with the parish of Cristo Salvador, helping the parishioners. For the past six years, the volunteers built houses for homeless parishioners, visited the day-care center and special school, befriended local volunteers from Cristo Salvador parish and otherwise experienced life and hardship in the  Bolivian countryside. The volunteers, many of whom were high school students from the Korean community of the Diocese of Brooklyn, enjoyed this program as much as the local parishioners.

The Bolivia Mission will continue in coming years.

Kor in B 2

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Benedictines Welcome Steelers

by Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller

Benedictine Father Paul R. Taylor, executive vice president of St. Vincent College, and Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive guard Ramon Foster, share a laugh after a workout session at the Steelers’ football training camp on the college campus in Latrobe, Pa.

Benedictine Father Paul R. Taylor, executive vice president of St. Vincent College, and Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive guard Ramon Foster, share a laugh after a workout session at the Steelers’ football training camp on the college campus in Latrobe, Pa.

LATROBE, Pa. (CNS) – Ask Pittsburgh Steelers’ chairman Dan Rooney why his football team has been training at St. Vincent College since 1966, and he says that the campus has the right facilities, it’s close to Pittsburgh and “for many reasons, it works well.”

 Then he adds with a laugh, “and it helps that it’s the Benedictines.”

For the past 48 preseasons, the college and archabbey have welcomed the six-time Super Bowl winners with the spirit of hospitality written in the Rule of St. Benedict.

“Chapter 53 talks about welcoming guests and reminds us that every guest should be welcomed as Christ himself,” Benedictine Archabbott Douglas Nowicki said.

At this time of year – it’s a three-week camp, ending Aug. 17 – that’s tens of thousands of guests from the solid fan-base in Pittsburgh 40 miles west, and from all over the U.S. On the busiest days, some 5,000 vehicles overflow from the parking lots into the grassy fields.

To the east, the Laurel Highlands break the big sky with rolling hills, one of the reasons that a Sports Illustrated writer once called St. Vincent “the most picturesque camp” in the league. But that’s not all that sets this apart from other NFL summer camps. There’s definitely a Catholic presence.

“One of the most outstanding things that you see is the basilica’s steeples,” Archabbot Nowicki said. “It’s in all the Steelers’ pictures.”Steeples of St. Vincent Basilica seen in the distance during the Pittsburgh Steelers football training camp at Pennsylvania college

That side of the campus was built by the original monks who in 1846 arrived with Abbot Boniface Wimmer to establish the first Benedictine monastery in the U.S., and a school for immigrants. From there, monks set out to found more schools and monasteries.

“The Benedictine communities for the last 1,500 years thrived on being participants in communities,” said Benedictine Father Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the college. “We have a place where people come and we are good neighbors, and our reach goes around the world in the Benedictine network. So for the Steelers to be partners with us and to be here helps us to do what we try to do best – that is, to welcome people.”

The friendship between St. Vincent and the Steelers began in the early 1900s when Art Rooney Sr., a student and athlete at Duquesne University Prep School in Pittsburgh, came to campus to play against St. Vincent Prep School’s football team.  He also came for retreats.

Art Sr. founded the Steelers franchise in 1933 and became its legendary “Chief.” His brother Dan was Father Silas Rooney, a Franciscan who once served at a St. Vincent mission in China.

Art Sr.’s son Art Jr. graduated from St. Vincent College in 1957, and Art Jr.’s brother Dan, now 81, is the team chairman and also served as U.S. ambassador to Ireland from 2009 to 2012. Dan’s son Art Rooney II is currently team president.

The team has been in the family from the beginning, and the Steelers hold the league distinction of having only three head coaches since 1969. So it’s more than a cheer when fans chant: “We are fam-i-ly!”

“The Rooneys are known for three things: faith, family and football,” Archabbot Nowicki said. “Art Sr. went to Mass every day and so does his son Dan. That has certainly been part of their upbringing in strong Irish Catholic families, and it’s very much who they are and their identities. The importance of faith, family and football permeates the entire organization.”

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive guard signs autographs after training session on campus of St. Vincent College in Pennsylvania

The team has chaplains, and Father Taylor, who works with the team development office, is invited as a friend and for the Catholic perspective. Some players attend Mass at the chapel and basilica, others have their own faith services, and quiet places on campus invite them all.

“The value of faith is very important, just like the value of physical development,” he said. “It’s one of the pieces of being a whole person. Today’s athlete can live out the writings of St. Paul when he says you are an athlete for Christ, run the race to win, and the winner gets the crown. When you see athletes today working so hard to achieve victory, you can take the same model and apply it to our faith life. Walking the journey of life faithfully to God is hard work. It’s hard work to be a Christian, but the work pays off.”

Jerry Olsavsky, a Catholic, who is the Steelers’ defensive assistant coach and a former player, said that coming to Latrobe for camp “for the past 24 years has really made me who I am.”

“That’s the unexpected result of being here at St. Vincent, you feel whole,” he said. “I’m not just a football coach and I’m not just a Catholic. It lets me be one person and wraps me all together, all of those different sides of me.”

He frequently goes to morning Mass with the Benedictine monks, and when his family is at the camp, they attend Mass with him. He says it grounds him and permits him to function as a coach with more humanity and focus.

Fans arrive at Pittsburgh Steelers football training camp at St. Vincent College in PennsylvaniaOffensive lineman Ramon Foster is not Catholic, but he said being at St. Vincent has deepened his spirituality. He also has formed friendships with the monks. Those influences have helped him become a better husband and father, he said. “Just being here gives you a humbleness. There is nothing but growth from this whole situation.”

In the spirit of St. Benedict, there’s no admission charge to watch the Steelers practice at scheduled times. That’s hospitality.

“This gives many people, particularly families and youngsters, the opportunity to see the Steelers close up when they might not otherwise be able to see them,” Archabbot Nowicki said. “That’s the welcome they receive here on campus, and that’s a commitment from the Steeler organization and St. Vincent to make this a positive experience.”

In February, he will be taking a black and gold Steelers Terrible Towel and autographed football to Rome and will present them to Pope Francis, whose love of faith and family has become known to all.

“We don’t know how he feels about football,” Archabbot Nowicki said, “but we’ll find out

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I.C.S.: ‘Best Little School in the Heart of Astoria’

by Marie Elena Giossi

School will be back in session soon, and while some will lament over the end of summer, Eileen Harnischfeger isn’t one of them.

The principal of Immaculate Conception School (I.C.S.) is excited to reunite with the students and teachers who, she says, make I.C.S. “the best little school in the heart of Astoria.”

ICS ScienceLocated on 29th Street and Ditmars Boulevard, I.C.S. is a neighborhood institution, where generations of local Catholics have sent their children since the doors first opened in 1924.

Twelve years ago, Harnischfeger became the first lay principal after having taught kindergarten and computer classes at the school for nearly a decade.

“I really love what I do,” says Harnischfeger – and that enthusiasm has contributed to a steady enrollment of 275 students from various ethnic backgrounds, a stable faculty and overall growth throughout this learning community.

Providing every child with a safe and nurturing environment that facilitates a love of learning as well as a love for God, others and self is the mission of the school. That begins with a solid academic foundation in nursery through grade eight, with daily religious instruction and weekly computer, art, music and gym classes.

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Classes are taught by a mix of seasoned professionals with a “wealth of experience” and recent college graduates who bring “a new perspective,” Harnischfeger said.

In accordance with current changes in academic standards across the nation, the school has begun and will continue implementing the new Common Core Learning Standards this fall.

The common core is designed to honor students’ various learning styles and paces while teaching them “to analyze, be critical thinkers and proficient writers,” according to Harnischfeger. She and four teachers are being trained in the new norms at St. John’s University, Jamaica, this summer.

Teachers are also preparing to introduce two programs that complement the updated guidelines: the SuperKids Reading Program for kindergarten, first and second graders to develop reading and language arts skills; and the Prentice Hall Mathematics: Courses 1, 2 and 3 Common Core Edition to build mathematical proficiency among sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

Differentiated instruction methods better meet each child’s unique needs, Harnischfeger says, and I.C.S. has been doing those techniques way before the common core. For students with delayed skills, learning difficulties and autism spectrum disorders, the school has Title I reading, math and guidance counseling as well as special education support services.

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Teachers enhance class lessons and meet students’ visual, auditory, social and communication needs using SMARTBoard technology, which is available in every classroom, and a SMART Table in the nursery classroom. Educators additionally make use of a computer lab, wireless laptop lab and Internet access throughout the building.

Although much has changed since the school was founded 89 years ago, what remains consistent are the Catholic teachings and values that are instilled in I.C.S. students.

Nearly 85 percent of the student body is Catholic these days, and children are formed in the faith through daily instruction, sacrament preparation, monthly liturgies and classroom visits from parish priests. Msgr. Fernando Ferrarese, pastor, even conducts a faith and film program for the upper grades.

One way the school community puts its faith into action is through a monthly Dress Down for Charity day. Children pay $2 for the privilege of not wearing their uniforms for the day, and all proceeds go to a charitable organization.ICS laptops

While they have donated to various causes, including animal care, none have garnered as much support as Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Following the superstorm, the school held a weeklong Dress Down for Charity, collecting over $5,000, which was donated to Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens for storm victims.

Lessons in Christian charity are not soon forgotten among students – or alumni, who host an annual auction to benefit the school. Harnischfeger is particularly grateful to alumnus Joseph McCann, who donated a new gymnasium floor to the school two years ago.

“Because of his (McCann) gift,” she said, “we not only have a new gym floor, we have a new CYO program. We have CYO basketball for boys and girls and a CYO volleyball team. He’s really helped to bring sports back to the school.”

And speaking of going back to school, Harnischfeger is anxiously counting the days, and she hopes her students are too.

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Pope to Approve JPII Canonization

(CNS) – Pope Francis will host a meeting of cardinals Sept. 30 to formally approve the canonization of Blesseds John Paul II and John XXIII; the date for the canonization will be announced at that time, said Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.

Pilgrims in St. Peter's Square hold up handkerchiefs featuring Blessed John Paul II the day after his beatification in 2011. The late Polish pontiff will be declared a saint, the Vatican said July 5, after officials approved a second miracle attributed to his intercession. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square hold up handkerchiefs featuring Blessed John Paul II the day after his beatification in 2011. The late Polish pontiff will be declared a saint, the Vatican said July 5, after officials approved a second miracle attributed to his intercession. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The cardinal told Vatican Radio Aug. 20 that only Pope Francis knows for sure the date he will proclaim the two popes saints, although he already implied that it is likely to be in 2014.

Speaking to reporters traveling with him from Brazil to Rome July 28, Pope Francis said he had been considering Dec. 8, but the possibility of icy roads could make it difficult for Polish pilgrims who would travel by bus to Rome for the ceremony.

Another option, he said, would be April 27, which is the Sunday after Easter and the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday, a celebration instituted worldwide by Pope John Paul.

Asked to describe the two late popes, Pope Francis said Blessed John was “a bit of the ‘country priest,’ a priest who loves each of the faithful and knows how to care for them; he did this as a bishop and as a nuncio.”

He was holy, patient, had a good sense of humor and, especially by calling the Second Vatican Council, was a man of courage, Pope Francis said. “He was a man who let himself be guided by the Lord.”

As for Blessed John Paul, he told the reporters on the plane, “I think of him as ‘the great missionary of the church,’ because he was “a man who proclaimed the Gospel everywhere.”

Pope Francis signed a decree recognizing the miracle needed for Blessed John Paul’s canonization July 5; the same day, the Vatican announced that the pope had agreed with the cardinal members of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes that the canonization of Blessed John should go forward even without a second miracle attributed to his intercession.

Before declaring new saints, the pope consults with cardinals around the world and calls a consistory – a gathering attended by any cardinal who wants and is able to attend – where those present voice their support for the pope’s decision. A date for a canonization ceremony is announced formally only during or immediately after the consistory.

Except in the case of martyrdom Vatican rules require one miracle for a candidate’s beatification and a second for his or her canonization as confirmations that the candidate really is in heaven with God.

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‘Zealot’ Portrays Jesus As Political Revolutionary

by Father John P. Cush

“Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” by Reza Aslan. Random House (New York, 2013). 333 pp., $27.

Some speak of a contemporary third quest for the historical Jesus. For a definition of the historical Jesus, a contemporary scholar, John P. Meier, states: “the Jesus whom we can recover, recapture or reconstruct by using the scientific tools of modern historical research.” The first quest for the historical Jesus is said to have begun in the 18th century with the writings of Hermann Reimarus and D. F. Strauss, who issued a clarion call for “unbiased” historical research on the life of Jesus. The second quest had been initiated by Albert Schweitzer and Martin Kähler, who focused on the faith that the historical Jesus inspires. Later scholars like Rudolf Bultmann took this to mean that we should separate the Jesus of history from the Christ of faith.

Perhaps fueled by archaeological and manuscript discoveries, new refinements in methodology and new interest in historical data, a third quest seemed to have emerged again in the last two decades of the 20th century and into the 21st century. This research into the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth can either be as subjective and ridiculous as the Jesus Seminar’s voting on the historicity of Gospel passages by dropping colored beads, or as well documented and grounded as E.P. Sanders’ Jesus and Judaism or John Meier’s A Marginal Jew. Depending on whom one reads, Jesus of Nazareth might be portrayed as an itinerant cynic philosopher (J.D. Crossan), a “man of the spirit” (Marcus Borg), a prophet calling for social change (Gerd Theissen) or an early feminist (Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza).

Reza Aslan’s new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, which recently shot to the top of the best-seller list, falls into this category of the third quest for the historical Jesus. The author, a Muslim-American who for a while practiced Evangelical Christianity, seemed to get himself into some controversy with Fox News back in July, primarily it seems because he is a Muslim writing on Christ.

Aslan’s book is very much part of this third quest for the historical Jesus. It tends to tell us much more about the author and his ideas than about Jesus himself. The book itself is a fairly easy read and almost reads like a novel, which is appropriate as the author is an instructor of creative writing. However, the author is also a professor of the sociology of religions, who focused his own particular study on the history of the Jihadist movement in Islam in the 20th century. This is reflected throughout his study.

Like many involved in historical Jesus research, Aslan’s attempt at objectivity makes a sharp distinction between the Christ whom we know through faith and the Jesus whom we know through history. Anything miraculous found in the life of Jesus is discounted by Aslan. Reading Jesus almost through the eyes of a modern religious zealot, he portrays a Jesus Who is a political revolutionary and Who would not have even understood the role of Messiah that we profess Him to be today.

Although an entertaining read and researched well enough, there are several issues with the book that would discount us taking it as a good “biography” of Jesus. His thought, that the faith is based on a concept of a mythical Jesus rather than the Jesus Whom the Apostles and disciples knew and loved and by Whom they were taught, is only one of them. The claims of Mr. Aslan in his book really are nothing that hasn’t been brought up over the past 300 years, and we as Catholic Christians would do better to focus in on other books written on who Christ is, like Thomas Weinandy’s Jesus the Christ; Roch Kereszty’s Jesus Christ: Fundamentals of Christology; or, for a more spiritual biography, Romano Guardini’s The Lord and Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth series. Like most of the books on the historical Jesus, Zealot is more revelatory of the scholar’s own interest and personality than the Jesus Who can be known through history and scripture.

We would do better to read some of the books listed above rather than this new controversial text that most likely won’t be remembered as a scholarly work in the future.


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New Green Roof ‘Tops’ At Bishop Loughlin

Bishop Loughlin M.H.S., Fort Greene, now has the second largest green roof in Brooklyn as of the end of July. The N.Y.C. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) selected Bishop Loughlin as the site for an ambitious green roof project, funded through the Green Infrastructure Grant Program. The green roof will have a significant impact for both Bishop Loughlin and the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill community.

 The Green Infrastructure Grant Program represents a key component of the N.Y.C. Green Infrastructure Plan – launched by Mayor Bloomberg in 2010 to support N.Y.C.’s goals for improved waterways.

The building rooftop is 18,000 square feet, and the school campus is bordered by Vanderbilt, Clermont, Greene and Lafayette Avenues. The school lies in a combined sewer area and, with it’s size, will dramatically decrease the amount of storm water from flowing unobstructed into drains during rainfalls. This will prevent the all too common overflow of the combined sewer system and the polluted waters that frequently enter nearby waterways.

In addition to relieving stress on sewer systems in the area, the project will also lower heating and air-conditioning costs for the school due to the added insulation a green roof provides. Hundreds of high school students will have a tremendous opportunity to learn from the biodiversity and habitat that will exist shortly after installation.

“We are looking for ways to do things differently and better at Bishop Loughlin, and the green roof project is an opportunity to do both,” said Bishop Loughlin president, Brother Dennis Cronin, F.S.C. “We see a great benefit in protecting our beautiful landmark building while also providing our students an opportunity to study the environmental issues confronting our city.”

The school is working in partnership with Highview Creations, a leader in green and blue roof installations throughout the city. Eric Dalski, founder of Highview Creations, is proud to work with Loughlin on this energy-saving initiative.

“It’s wonderful to see a green roof on Bishop Loughlin,” he said. “The school will be coupling the environmental and economic benefits of green roofs, as well as encompassing the educational component. Students will be able to learn about the ecology, plants, natural systems, environmental issues in New York City and Green Infrastructure.”

Green roofs have become more popular in recent years, especially in urban areas like Brooklyn for a variety of important reasons: the environmental benefits, energy savings and the DEP Green Infrastructure grant program. New York City, like other older urban centers, is largely serviced by a combined sewer system carrying storm water and waste water through a single pipe. The grant program was primarily launched as a way to protect the combined sewer system from frequent storm water overflows. The overflows occur during storms with heavy rainfall, which cause the discharge of polluted, nutrient rich water into N.Y.C. waterways.

It is estimated that the new green roof will keep more than 5,000 gallons of rainfall from area sewers during an average storm providing important relief to the system.


The new green roof at Bishop Loughlin M.H.S., Fort Greene, pictured above left, will keep more than 5,000 gallons of rainfall out of area sewers during a storm. Above right, a cross section of the roof displays how the water is trapped. The roof provides a cool, insulating layer that shields the roof from the sun’s rays. Not only will the roof reduce storm water run-off, but it will also reduce Bishop Loughlin’s energy bills, air-conditioning needs in the summer and heating costs in the winter.

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Pope Asks Soccer Players to Be ‘Models of Inclusion’

by Cindy Wooden

Pope Francis receives a soccer ball as gift from Italy's goalkeeper and captain, Gianluigi Buffon, during a private audience at the Vatican Aug. 13. Argentina will play Italy in a friendly soccer match Aug. 14 in the pope's honor. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis receives a soccer ball as gift from Italy’s goalkeeper and captain, Gianluigi Buffon, during a private audience at the Vatican Aug. 13. Argentina will play Italy in a friendly soccer match Aug. 14 in the pope’s honor. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

ROME (CNS) – With admiration and big smiles all around, the lifelong soccer fan Pope Francis met the star players and coaches of the Argentine and Italian national soccer teams hoping to compete for the World Cup in 2014.

The teams were led to the Clementine Hall in the Apostolic Palace Aug. 13 by Argentine captain Lionel Messi, a forward currently playing for FC Barcelona, and Italian captain Gianluigi Buffon, a goalie currently playing for Juventus FC.

The two teams were in Rome to play a “friendly” match in the pope’s honor Aug. 14; the game has no bearing on the process of qualifying for the World Cup tournament.

Pope Francis said he was relieved it was a friendly, but it would still be difficult to know for whom to cheer.

Claudio Cesare Prandelli, the Italian coach, said he was about to ask the pope if he would attend the match, but Pope Francis anticipated the question and told him that the Vatican security already considers him “undisciplined,” leaving the impression that it would be asking too much to have them arrange a trip to Rome’s Olympic Stadium.

In a brief speech to the players, coaches and referees, Pope Francis encouraged everyone involved with professional soccer to maintain the spirit and passion of it being a game, a team sport.

“Even if the team wins” the game, he said, without beauty, graciousness and team work, both the team and the fans lose.

“Before being champions, you are men, human beings with your talents and your defects, heart and ideas, aspirations and problems,” Pope Francis said. “Even if you are stars, remain men both in your sport and in your life.”

He asked the players to take responsibility for the fact that for millions of people, young and old, they are heroes and role models.

“Be aware of this and set an example of loyalty, respect and altruism,” he said. “I have confidence in all the good you can do among the young.”

The pope, who follows soccer, knows that in Europe the game has been plagued by incidents of players and fans making racist comments about players from Africa. He told the players they must be models of inclusion, working to “permanently eliminate the danger of discrimination.”

When teams are committed to good sportsmanship, he said, everyone in the stadium grows, “violence disappears” and “you’ll start seeing families in the stands again.”

Pope Francis also asked the players to pray for him, “so that I too, on the ‘field’ where God has put me, can play an honest and courageous game for the good of all.”

Speaking to reporters after their audience with the pope, Messi – who did not play in the Italy-Argentina match because of an injury – said the best way for the players to respond to what the pope said was to give fans a clean and exciting game and to live upright lives.

“Without a doubt, today was one of the most special days of my life,” he said

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Former St. Matthias Deacon Dies

gerard k steffensDeacon Gerard K. Steffens, an incardinated deacon of the Diocese of Brooklyn, died Aug. 15.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Aug. 19 at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, Nesconset, L.I.

Deacon Steffens was born on July 19, 1942 and was raised in Ridgewood.

He was ordained to the Diaconate on Dec. 2, 1978.

He served in the Diocese of Brooklyn at St. Matthias parish, Ridgewood, until his move to the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 2000, where he ministered at Holy Cross Church.


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Msgr. Funaro Believed In Possibility

A Mass of Christian Burial for Msgr. Joseph Funaro, retired pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs parish, Forest Hills, was celebrated Aug. 17 at the church. He died Aug. 14 at New York Medical Hospital Queens after a prolonged illness. He was 76.

funaro josephBorn in Brooklyn, he attended New Utrecht H.S., Bensonhurst; St. Jerome’s College, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada; and St. Vincent’s Seminary, Latrobe, Pa.

He was ordained May 29, 1965 by Bishop Bryan J. McEntegart at St. James Pro-Cathedral, Downtown Brooklyn.

He served as an associate at Our Lady of Grace parish, Howard Beach, 1965-73, and then was assigned to Catholic Charities as the director of communications. As director of the Diocesan Theater Guild, he directed 25 musical productions that raised funds for Catholic Charities.

He was named a monsignor in 1988.

In 1989, he was named pastor of Assumption parish, Brooklyn Heights, where he served until 2000 when he became pastor at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs. He officially retired in 2012 but continued to serve as parish administrator for the new pastor, Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez.

Before he was ordained a priest, Msgr. Funaro worked as a cartoonist for Paramount Pictures. He illustrated Casper the Friendly Ghost, Little Audrey, Popeye, Wimpy, Baby Huey, Catnip and Herman.

Bishop Sanchez was the main celebrant of the funeral Mass. Special concelebrants included Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto, Msgr. Edward Scharfenberger, Fathers Frank Passenant, George Cowan, Michael Carrano, Jan Czudek and Phillip Pizzo, who preached the homily.

“Above all else, Joe Funaro was a good priest,” Father Pizzo said. “He left behind a lucrative career to become a priest. He put his whole personality into it.

“Msgr. Funaro made everyone feel good about themselves because he knew he was a representative of Jesus Christ.

“He loved putting on plays.  Wherever we went someone would come up to him who was in this play or that play.

“He also was a consummate fund raiser for Catholic Charities and then he put this parish back on the map.”

Bishop Sanchez said that Msgr. Funaro was “a faithful priest who gave his all to the parishes he served and to Catholic Charities which he loved so much.”

Deacon Greg Kandra, who preached at the Vigil Mass, said, “Above all else, Joe Funaro was a man of faith. Tremendous, towering faith.

“We heard him express that faith again and again from this altar in five words that could have been his creed – ‘­­Nothing is impossible with God.’

“Joe Funaro proved that himself again and again. He was a man who believed in possibility.

Burial was in Holy Rood Cemetery, Westbury, L.I.

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