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Through baptism, all Christians are united and equal in Christ, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) ─ There is no place for discrimination or divisive distinctions among people who believe in Christ, Pope Francis said during his weekly general audience.

That everyone is made new and equal in Christ overcomes all ethnic, economic and social differences, even between the two sexes, "establishing an equality between man and woman which was revolutionary at the time and which needs to be reaffirmed even today," he said Sept. 8 to those gathered in the Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican.

"How many times we hear expressions that denigrate women," he said, adding that even today women experience a kind of slavery in which "women do not have the same opportunities as men."

The pope continued his series of talks on St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians by looking at what faith in Christ brings.

With faith and baptism, people become new creatures, "clothed" with Christ and children of God in Christ, the apostle writes. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is no male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

The pope said this shows how "baptism, therefore, is not merely an external rite. Those who receive it are transformed deep within, in their inmost being, and possess new life" with an identity that is so new "that it prevails over the differences that exist on the ethnic-religious level" and social and economic levels.

St. Paul's teaching was "shocking" and "revolutionary" at a time when distinctions, for example, between slaves and free citizens "was vital in ancient society," the pope said.

"By law, free citizens enjoyed all rights, while the human dignity of slaves was not even recognized," he said.

The same thing is happening to many people in the world today, "who do not have the right to eat, who do not have the right to education, who do not have the right to work. They are the new slaves. They are the ones who live on the margins, who are exploited by everyone" and whose human dignity is denied, he said.

"Equality in Christ overcomes the social differences between the two sexes, establishing an equality between man and woman," he said, calling for a reaffirmation of this truth.

St. Paul "confirms the profound unity that exists between all the baptized, in whatever condition they are bound to, because every one of them is a new creature in Christ. Every distinction becomes secondary to the dignity of being children of God."

Therefore, "it is decisive even for all of us today to rediscover the beauty of being children of God, to be brothers and sisters among ourselves, because we have been united in Christ, who redeemed us," he said.

Differences and conflicts caused by separation "should not exist among believers in Christ," he said, cautioning against creating differences between people, "many times unconsciously."

"Rather, our vocation is that of making concrete and evident the call to unity of the entire human race."

"Everything that exacerbates the differences between people, often causing discrimination -- all of this, before God, no longer has any meaning, thanks to the salvation effected in Christ."

At the end of the general audience, the pope marked the day's feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary by asking people to pray that "our mother help us to rediscover the beauty of being children of God and, overcoming differences and conflicts, to help us live as brothers and sisters."

The day is also when the people of Cuba celebrate their patroness, Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, he said. Recalling his visit to her shrine in 2015, "I want to once again present at the feet of the Virgin of Charity the life, dreams, hopes and sorrows of the Cuban people," so that wherever they find themselves, they may experience the tenderness of Mary be led to Christ.

The pope also greeted all students heading back to school, saying he hoped the coming academic year would be "a time of educational growth and deepening of the bonds of friendship."

"May the Lord help you safeguard the faith and cultivate science in order to become protagonists of a better future in which humanity may be able to enjoy peace, fraternity and tranquility."

New global initiative seeks to ‘unlock’ Catechism of the Catholic Church

Initiative’s co-founders include two members of Archdiocese of Detroit; project seeks to present catechism’s ‘pulsating heart’ — Jesus Christ

WASHINGTON (CNS) — When is the last time you cracked open the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Odds are, it's sitting on your bookshelf collecting dust.

A new global project, Real + True, seeks to “unlock” the catechism and modernize the way Church teaching is presented to a digital age.

The catechism “is not just a technical book,” said Real + True co-founder Edmund Mitchell, “but it's written to really change our relationship with Christ.”

Launched Sept. 7, the initiative includes videos, social media content and a podcast organized along the four pillars of the catechism. Each month, a new unit will be released, with 12 units for each pillar, totaling 48 units.

Aimed at millennial and Generation Z audiences, the content is meant to supplement evangelization and catechesis efforts that already exist as well as be a resource to those seeking answers to questions online, said co-founder Edmundo Reyes.

The material is free and available on realtrue.org in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

Reyes, who also serves as communications director for the Archdiocese of Detroit, said the inspiration for Real + True came six years ago in Portland, Oregon, when he encountered BibleProject, a nonprofit with a library of resources to help people read and understand the Bible.

While the organization isn’t Catholic, Reyes was impressed by their work, which he’d “never seen done in a church setting.” After learning about BibleProject’s creative process, he came back “with the hope of one day doing something similar with the church.”

When Reyes returned home, something unexpected happened. He started watching BibleProject’s videos on his phone and three of his children joined him.

“They kept saying, ‘let’s watch the next one, let’s watch the next one.’ And at the end my son said to me: ‘Dad, I feel I learned more about my faith from those videos than all my years of religious education,’” Reyes said.

“That moved me in two ways,” Reyes said. “One is a bit of sadness, like, man, I’m letting my kid down here, but also a lot of hope that the message that we proclaim, the Gospel message, it’s truth and it’s beauty and it’s attractive in itself. We just need to be able to communicate that message in a way that is relevant to them, in a way that they can understand it.”

The Church is moving in the direction of an “evangelizing catechesis,” said Reyes, citing the example of Pope Francis instituting the ministry of the catechist in May and the Vatican updating the “Directory for Catechesis” June 2020. He sees Real + True as participating in that evangelizing catechesis.

Reyes quoted the catechism, which states: “Periods of renewal in the church are also intense moments of catechesis.” And with the 30th anniversary of the catechism next year, the time seemed ripe to launch the initiative.

Reyes described Real + True as a “passion project,” apart from his work as the director of the communications in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Co-founder Emily Mentock explained that the project’s goal of “unlocking the catechism for the modern world” means bringing the “content of the text into more digital media channels to better reach the audience that we're after” -- people that are not against the Church but are curious and open to learning more about their faith.

Mentock, 29, said her own journey back to practicing Catholicism informed her work on Real + True. A pivotal step in her story was seeing a tweet quoting Bishop Robert E. Barron’s sermons podcast.

The tweet piqued her interest, so she started listening to the podcast and eventually “became compelled to go back to Mass and from there became compelled to actually read all the Gospels,” said Mentock, who works as associate director of digital strategy at the Archdiocese of Detroit.

That experience shaped “what I believe in and the ways we can use digital and social media channels as a tool to support that pathway back to Christ,” she said.

Each Real + True unit contains three videos -- a proclamation video, an explanation video and a connection video -- as well as a podcast that is geared toward formal and informal catechists.

Mitchell, 32, who worked in parish ministry for 10 years, said his training in a methodology of catechesis called, “the ecclesial method” by Msgr. Francis Kelly, influenced the approach to developing the structure and scripts of the videos.

The first stage is preparation, he said, by “getting the attention of the heart of someone who isn’t yet ready to hear the catechesis.” The proclamation videos are meant to rouse “spiritual curiosity” and prep the person to have a “burning question on their heart” that connects to the section of the catechism the unit covers.

Then the explanation video goes deeper into the teaching and the connection video applies the material to everyday life. For creating the video topics, Mitchell said he was influenced by podcasts like “Radiolab” and “This American Life” that aren’t Christian but explore the phenomenology of the world.

Using the natural world as a vehicle for questions posed in the videos keeps the content relevant, especially for a global audience, since “the catechism is universal,” said Mitchell.

Funded by a grant from Our Sunday Visitor, the Real + True initiative is also seeking donations to translate content into more languages and produce videos at a faster pace.

“The work of evangelization online is significant and important, especially in a world so connected, which is what we saw in the pandemic,” said Reyes.

Isolation is one of the challenges the Church faces today and the initiative organizers hope that by having “content that leads to Jesus,” young people can help “get connected spiritually,” then ideally continue a “journey of discipleship toward true community and communion,” he said.

Eucharist is source of joy, God’s presence, speakers tell global congress

BUDAPEST, Hungary (CNS) ─ The ultimate purpose of the Eucharist is mission, Mary Healy, a professor of Sacred Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, told the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress.

More than 60 speakers from nearly 40 countries on five continents are in Budapest for the Sept. 5-12 congress, which will close with a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

In the United States, some churches "have signs posted at the exits to the parking lot, so that you see them every time you leave the church on Sunday morning: 'You are now entering mission territory,'" Healy said in her Sept. 6 address. "They have the right idea. In the Eucharist, the whole pattern of Christ's redemption is made present to us.”

Healy is a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, a body of scholars that engages in research for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

At the Congress' opening Mass Sept. 5 in Heroes Square, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences, said the Eucharist "goes beyond all loneliness, all distance and all indifference." Ucanews.com reported that the Italian archbishop welcomed the representatives of Eastern Christians with whom he works and prayed "to build Christian unity" so that "our witness may be credible."

Cardinal Bagnasco told young people from Catholic schools at the Mass that "faith is not a series of prohibitions, but rather a great 'yes' to joy, even when it is demanding, because love is a serious thing."

The congress, which is held every four years and was postponed from 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions, aims to deepen knowledge and respect for the Eucharist. The theme is "All my springs are in you," and each day includes Mass and cultural and spiritual events around the Hungarian capital.

Celebrating Mass Sept. 7, Archbishop José Palma of Cebu, Philippines, spoke about the experience of being family each time the Eucharist is celebrated.

"Right at the start of the Holy Mass, we let go of our social status and the many things that divide us, for we become one family of believers," the archbishop said in his homily. "It is also in every Eucharist where we let go of our titles and call each one as brothers and sisters, and we ask the Lord to make 'my sacrifice and yours be acceptable to the almighty Father.'"

The congress is important "because it deals with all aspects of life," Cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix of Quebec told Vatican Radio.

"We're all in tune with the life of the church in our own regions, in our own countries, but to meet other Christians, other believers from all over the world, is such an uplifting experience," said Cardinal Lacroix, who addressed the congress Sept. 7.

The cardinal, 64, said the first eucharistic congress he took part in was when he was 18. "I'm the oldest of seven children, and we all went with my parents in a little tent to spend the week in Philadelphia; that was my first experience. It was overwhelming to pray with thousands of people," he said.

The congress is "a place where we come to the Source, where we come to the Lord as humanity, as church and allow him to renew us, give us more strength so we can continue living in the midst of this very troubled world and find hope," Cardinal Lacroix said.

Other speakers include Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, president of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences; Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, the Chaldean Catholic patriarch; Archbishop Piero Marini, president of the International Committee for the International Eucharist Congress; Brazilian Cardinal Orani João Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro; Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments; and South Korean Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul.

Pope Francis has designated Quito, Ecuador, as the venue for the 2024 International Eucharistic Congress.

Archdiocese’s new evangelization director brings an educator’s heart to ministry

Marlon De La Torre, Ph.D., of Fort Worth, Texas, brings decades of experience, says he was inspired by Unleash the Gospel’s mission

DETROIT  Marlon De La Torre, Ph.D., is a big believer in the connection between education and Christian witness. 

Specifically, he says, one can’t proclaim the Gospel if they don’t know what the Gospel says.

“If you are an effective teacher, that means you’re an effective witness of the Gospel,” De La Torre told Detroit Catholic. “You can’t be strictly an evangelist and not be able to articulate the faith in some way.”

De La Torre, who has decades of experience working in evangelization and education, including 10 years as director of evangelization and missionary discipleship for the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, was named the Archdiocese of Detroit’s new director of evangelization and missionary discipleship effective Sept. 7. 

De La Torre succeeds outgoing director Fr. Stephen Pullis, who was assigned to serve on the faculty at Sacred Heart Major Seminary effective July 1. 

“On behalf of the Church in Detroit, I want to extend a warm welcome to Dr. De La Torre as he joins the Archdiocese of Detroit to lead our Department of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship,” Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said. “I look forward to working with him as we continue to respond to the Holy Spirit’s charge to transform our community into one filled with joyful missionary disciples united in Jesus Christ.”

De La Torre, who lives in Fort Worth but will be relocating to southeast Michigan, will lead the archdiocese’s Department of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship, which oversees the offices of Cultural Ministries, Discipleship Formation, Engagement and Family Ministries, Evangelical Charity, and Christian Worship. 

“It is a great joy to share in the Lord’s work with the Catholic communities of the Archdiocese of Detroit, and I am truly humbled by Archbishop Vigneron’s trust in me to assist in the continual proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, especially through the Holy Family,” Dr. De La Torre said. “There is a sense of awe and wonder when our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ calls us to serve our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and even more so when the call is one you least expect.” 

De La Torre’s most recent work has been as president of the National Association of Professional Catechetical Leaders, an apostolate that helps catechetical leaders, schoolteachers, administrators and those involved in evangelization and formation with training workshops, courses, webinars and meeting people in the field doing evangelization. 

De La Torre said he was inspired by Archbishop Vigneron’s 2017 pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel, and was honored to have been asked to lead the archdiocese’s missionary evangelization efforts. 

Marlon De La Torre, Ph.D., the Archdiocese of Detroit's new director of evangelization and missionary discipleship, lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with his wife, Amy, and has four children: Miguel, 22, Gabriella, 19, Maria, 16, and Gianna, 7. (Courtesy photo)

“I read Unleash the Gospel and was impressed with (Archbishop Vigneron’s) approach,” De La Torre said. “The sincerity of his desire to effectively bring people back home to the Catholic Church, emphasizing the role of the family, modeled after the Holy Family, is inspiring. We have to be converted and love our Lord in both word and deed.” 

De La Torre and his wife of 24 years, Amy, have four children: Miguel, 22, a seminarian for the Diocese of Fort Worth; Gabriella, 19, a sophomore at Franciscan University of Steubenville; Maria, 16, a senior in high school who plans to attend Franciscan; and Gianna, 7, who just made her first Holy Communion. 

In his role with the NAPCL, De La Torre worked with multiple dioceses and ministries across the country, which gives him a unique perspective on ministry both within and outside a diocesan structure. 

“When you are in a diocesan structure, you see the acute needs of a particular diocese, the direction of the archbishop, its priests, its faculty, and staff with a particular need,” De La Torre said. “Working in an apostolate, it helps you see the other side of how apostolates or ministries could be an asset to a diocese or archdiocese.”

Earlier in his career, De La Torre was an adjunct professor of catechetics for the online Catholic Distance University and Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving, Texas. He also served as superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and as principal of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic High School in Memphis, Tenn.  

He holds a doctorate degree in Catechetics, Catholic Education and Catholic Doctrine from the University of Notre Dame-Australia, a master’s in Educational Administration and Curriculum from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in theology from Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, and a bachelor’s degree in Mental Health and Health Services, also from Franciscan University.

It is this educational background that sets the foundation for De La Torre’s perspective on evangelization, he said. 

“When you are evangelizing, it’s not specifically a pronouncement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is primary, but prior to that, you have to be an authentic witness,” De La Torre said. “You have to be prudent, calm, gentle, disciplined; all of those factors are part of being a good evangelist. And those are also traits of a good educator.” 

Knowledge of the Gospels and the Catechism don’t replace authentic faith, but as an educator and evangelist, De La Torre said, it’s critical that people have both: By knowing the faith, one can live the faith. And by living they faith, they in turn teach others. 

“To be a disciple, you need to first and foremost have a good grasp of what Christ professes and proclaims,” Dr. De La Torre said. “As an educator, you are first and foremost an evangelist and a witness to truth.”

De La Torre sees his new role as empowering pastors, principals, catechetical leaders, and the laity to take ownership of the Gospel and the tenants laid out in Unleash the Gospel, specifically the proclamation of the kerygma — or basic message of salvation — and the role of the family as the primary evangelists and catechists. 

“From an outsider’s perspective, those things for me were key to what any bishop or archbishop would want for his flock,” De La Torre said. “Having read Unleash the Gospel, having studied it and listening to Archbishop Vigneron face to face, it gives me a good sense of what his vision is. We want to be sound evangelists, walking side by side, guiding and serving as a resource to others.” 

USCCB launches initiative to address polarization in U.S. society

CLEVELAND (CNS) ─ Polarization across society has prompted the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to launch an initiative that looks to bring people together to serve the common good.

Called "Civilize It: A Better Kind of Politics," the initiative is designed to "move forward the kind of conversations that we need to be having to overcome our divisions," said Jill Rauh, director of education and outreach in the USCCB's Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, which is coordinating the effort.

The USCCB introduced the initiative Sept. 7.

The effort draws heavily from the teachings of Pope Francis, particularly his call in the third encyclical of his papacy, "Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship."

"We are in a situation where both in society and the church we are experiencing a lot of division and polarization," Rauh told Catholic News Service. "In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis specifically is calling Catholics and all people of goodwill to build a better kind of politics, one at the service of the common good."

The Civilize It initiative is meant not just for political leaders, but for all people, Rauh added.

A special webpage for the initiative, CivilizeIt.org, has links to a tool kit with resources to help parishes, small groups and individuals address polarization of any kind.

"Pope Francis is very clear in 'Fratelli Tutti' and the bishops have been clear in 'Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship' that we are called to engage in the public sphere and to do so year-round, to be working together and to try to identify ways to work for the common good," Rauh said.

"Forming Consciences" is the bishops' quadrennial document on election participation.

Other USCCB offices also are promoting the initiative, Rauh said. In addition, leaders in at least 45 dioceses are planning to incorporate the initiative in diocesan programs and more are expected to also take part.

Tool kit resources range from a Prayer for Civility that draws from the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi to a reflection titled "Loving our Neighbor through Dialogue." Other materials include a study guide and parish bulletin inserts.

Website visitors are invited to sign a pledge saying they will rely on "charity, clarity and creativity" to promote understanding and dialogue over division.

Signers pledge to affirm each person's dignity, even when they disagree with someone and respectfully listen to others "to understand experiences different from my own."

The pledge also invites signers to engage in "critical examination to ensure that my perspectives are rooted in truth, that my sources of information are unbiased and that I not open myself to manipulation by partisan interests."

Other actions listed with the pledge include becoming a "bridgebuilder who participates in constructive dialogue based in shared values" and to see differences in perspectives as "opportunities for creative tension which can yield solutions for the common good."

The initiative builds on a program with a similar name introduced by the Department of Justice Peace and Human Development for the 2020 election cycle. That effort sought to remind people that civility in political discussions, not rancor, is a virtue.

The idea for "Civilize It" originated in the Social Action Office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 2016. Its success in Ohio caught the attention of the USCCB, which decided that the model, with a few tweaks, could be introduced nationwide in 2019.

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

Choose life by choosing to care for creation, Christian leaders say

VATICAN CITY (CNS) ─ The recent extreme weather events and natural disasters show humanity is now paying the price of how it has been treating creation, said a joint message by three Christian leaders, including Pope Francis.

For the sake of younger generations and their future, "we must choose to eat, travel, spend, invest and live differently, thinking not only of immediate interest and gains but also of future benefits," the message said.

"We repent of our generation's sins," the leaders said, and join together in prayer, hoping for committed action by individuals and world leaders ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.

The joint message was signed by the pope, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, an early leader in the Christian ecology movement, and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, England.

"This is the first time that the three of us feel compelled to address together the urgency of environmental sustainability, its impact on persistent poverty and the importance of global cooperation," said the joint message dated Sept. 1, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. The message was released by the Vatican Sept. 7 and it marks the monthlong Season of Creation, which runs until Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology.

"Together, on behalf of our communities, we appeal to the heart and mind of every Christian, every believer and every person of goodwill. We pray for our leaders who will gather in Glasgow to decide the future of our planet and its people," it said.

"We must decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations. God mandates: 'Choose life, so that you and your children might live.' We must choose to live differently; we must choose life," the joint message said.

Christianity presents a concept of stewardship, showing there is an "individual and collective responsibility for our God-given endowment," it said, as well as warnings against "adopting short term and seemingly inexpensive options of building on sand, instead of building on rock for our common home to withstand storms."

However, "we have taken the opposite direction. We have maximized our own interest at the expense of future generations," it said.

"By concentrating on our wealth, we find that long-term assets, including the bounty of nature, are depleted for short-term advantage. Technology has unfolded new possibilities for progress but also for accumulating unrestrained wealth, and many of us behave in ways which demonstrate little concern for other people or the limits of the planet," it said.

The world must make a change and "pursue generosity and fairness in the ways that we live, work and use money, instead of selfish gain," the message said.

"Today, we are paying the price. The extreme weather and natural disasters of recent months reveal afresh to us with great force and at great human cost that climate change is not only a future challenge, but an immediate and urgent matter of survival," it said.

"Tomorrow could be worse. Today's children and teenagers will face catastrophic consequences unless we take responsibility now, as 'fellow workers with God' to sustain our world," so for the sake of future generations, the message said, may Christians choose to live sustainably and be committed to prayer and dedicated to action "for a future which corresponds ever more to the promises of God."

We can't let people forget 9/11, says retired NYFD captain

MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (CNS) ─ When the last days of August roll around every year, that's when the memories start to return to Thomas Damore.

No matter the weather, no matter what he's doing, they come back. Even though 20 years have passed and the retired captain of the New York Fire Department now lives hundreds of miles from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

In his mind, he goes back to a day when fire, smoke, debris and death rained from a blindingly clear blue sky over New York City and back to the 50 days he spent climbing over piles of twisted metal where fires still burned, pushing aside piles of concrete and other debris, searching, always searching for anything left of thousands of people who perished in an instant at ground zero.

"Most of the year I don't think too much about it, but beginning at the end of August, I can't help but think back to that time," Damore recalled recently.

"I can still hear the machines that were working to dig out all the debris. I can still smell the burning debris and when we were getting close to a body, you would get the smell of decay. I conjure that up too. Sometimes it doesn't seem like it was 20 years ago. Sometimes it seems like a thousand."

Damore is a parishioner at St. Michael Church in Murrells Inlet, about 15 miles south of Myrtle Beach, where he enjoys a game of golf, or a walk on the beach with his wife Veronica.

Although his life has completely changed from what it was 20 years ago, he will never forget where he was on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

Back then, Damore was part of Engine Company 48 in the Bronx. He was off duty that morning and didn't realize what had happened miles away in lower Manhattan until a fellow firefighter called him with the news and quipped, "I'll bet you're glad you're not working today."

But Damore immediately knew he had to get to the scene.

He and six other men from his engine company joined about 30 other firefighters who got their equipment, commandeered a city bus and headed for lower Manhattan. Both towers had fallen by the time they got there around 11 a.m.

"At the time, it was total pandemonium with people running every which way," Damore said. He said they reported to a fire chief in charge and got the assignment to do search and rescue. He said he directed his men to look anywhere they could for any sign of life, which they did for the next eight hours."

They explored every open space, every void in the smoldering wreckage where it might be possible for survivors to be but found no one.

From that day forward, Damore split his time between regular shifts at his Bronx station and working at ground zero. He didn't get home to his family in Queens until eight days after the terrorist attack.

Hope of finding survivors dwindled quickly after 9/11 and Damore and his fellow workers realized they were part of a long-haul recovery operation.

"Even when we did have a recovery, it was rarely a complete body," Damore said. "Sometimes it was just a hand, a foot, a finger or toe. I tried to get my men to realize any recovery we made was going to be significant to the families. When we did find somebody, it became almost a joyous occasion because we knew that someone was going to be able to get some closure."

Whenever someone was found, all work at the site would stop, he said. The person was placed in a stretcher, covered with an American flag, and carried to a waiting ambulance.

Damore said faith helped sustain the workers during their grim tasks. Fire department chaplains were constantly present and he and others frequently walked to a nearby church where volunteers offered food and there was a daily noon Mass.

He worked his shifts at ground zero until Feb. 6, 2002. On his last day there, his team recovered the remains of the son of his former battalion chief which he said was "a fitting emotional end for my time down there."

Once that service ended, Damore went back to full-time work in the Bronx for a few more months and then retired in December 2002. He moved with his family to South Carolina in 2006.

Damore takes part in annual 9/11 memorial ceremonies at St. Michael Church and brings along the battered fire helmet he wore while working at ground zero.

Since both of his daughters were born after 2001, Damore said he knew how important it was to pass on the story of what happened that day to younger generations. He said telling the story is even more important 20 years on, and he stresses the importance of remembering how good overcame the evil that brought on 9/11.

That good, he said, was evident in the support he and his fellow first responders saw from their fellow New Yorkers -- and from people around the country -- as the nation came together in grief.

He said he still spends a lot of time in prayer for the firefighters he knew who died on 9/11, for all the other souls lost that day and for the ground zero workers who are sick because of the toxic debris they were exposed to day after day.

"I didn't get sick; I'm one of the lucky ones," he said.

"Because of all the people we lost on 9/11 and those who have died since, we can't let people forget what happened. We still have people to this day who try to claim it was all a hoax, so we have to keep teaching the history. We simply can't let people forget."

Let’s pray today for the Blessed Virgin’s motherly protection

The following is a message from Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron to the people of the Archdiocese of Detroit:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we come to the First Saturday in September this year, we find ourselves in a place which many of us had hoped to have left behind by this day. We find ourselves still struggling with the effects of the COVID pandemic. Despite the progress we have made in dealing with the pandemic, there remain woven into the fabric of our days the suffering of those infected, too often even now leading to death; the fatigue and discouragement of health care workers combating the illness; our fears and anxiety about the impact of the pandemic on our families and communities; and the contention to which these concerns so often give rise.

My aim in this message is to ask that you join me in making this First Saturday of September 2021 a day of particular prayer to renew the entrustment of our plight to the loving protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother.

In the rhythm of the Church’s life, the First Saturday of each month is particularly devoted to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God. I invite all of you to approach the Blessed Mother on this First Saturday to ask again for her help and protection to carry us, her children, through this time of trial.

In the first months of the pandemic, Pope Francis, as he addressed the whole world from St. Peter’s Basilica, entrusted us “to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea.” The sea has yet to become calm, so let us once again renew the entrustment of ourselves to Mary.

In my “Ten Guideposts for Christians in the Time of the Coronavirus Pandemic,” I made my own appeal to entrust ourselves to the Blessed Mother: “From the cross Jesus gave us his Mother to be ours. In every age — from the days before Pentecost until today — the Church has been blessed through the Mother of God interceding for us, from her being close to us with her care and protection.” Once again, with a constancy born of confidence in the love of Our Lady’s Heart, “let us renew our commitment to ‘fly to her protection.’” Once again, “I invite you to join with me in praying the Memorare every day to commend not only the Church but also our country, indeed the whole world, to the loving care of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
Amen.

With each of you this day, in praying for all of us, I remain

Yours, in the Heart of Christ,
Archbishop Allen Vigneron

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
St. Anne, pray for us.
Bl. Solanus, pray for us.

U.S. bishops’ Labor Day statement calls for economy that works for all

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The "present ills of our economy" invite Catholics to reflect on ways to propose new and creative responses to vital human needs in a post-pandemic world, said Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in the U.S. bishops' annual Labor Day statement.

Acknowledging that the economy is showing signs of recovery despite the continuing pandemic, Archbishop Coakley said the current time presents an opportunity to "build a consensus around human dignity and the common good.”

But despite signs of an economic recovery, he said in the statement released Sept. 2, millions of Americans continue to struggle financially because of unemployment, poverty and hunger made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.

"There are still many uncertainties around this pandemic; however, we do know that our society and our world will never be the same," the archbishop said.

Archbishop Coakley credited and thanked the many workers "who have kept our country functioning during these trying times and worked under difficult and often underappreciated conditions.”

"We also pray for those who lost or continue to lack resources or income, as research indicates 47% of adults experienced employment income loss" from March 2020, when pandemic shutdowns began, and February 2021, he said.

Despite some job gains, the statement noted that the unemployment rate in July, at 5.4%, was higher than the 3.5% unemployment rate in February 2020.

"Adults in lower-income households were more likely to experience employment income loss than those from higher income households," the archbishop said. "And women accounted for more than half of the job losses during the first seven months of the recession (during the pandemic) even though they make up less than half of the workforce.”

Archbishop Coakley also pointed out that more than 600,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States.

"It is especially heartbreaking that up to 43,000 minor children in the U.S. have lost a parent as a result of the pandemic. The families who lost a breadwinner are now more financially vulnerable, with a projected 42 million people in the United States experiencing food insecurity this year, including 13 million children," he said.

Such concerns, the statement continued, point to the need to heed the words of Pope Francis in his encyclical "Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship," where he shared a vision for the post-pandemic world "that aspires to a global fraternity which leaves no one at the margins of society.”

"He decries the reality that women are not yet recognized as having the same dignity as men, that racism shamefully continues, and that those who are poor, disabled, unborn, or elderly are often considered dispensable," the archbishop said.

Further, the archbishop explained, the pope has stressed that such a "universal fraternity" can be realized "when our social and economic systems stop producing victims.”

Noting that the pope has reflected that the answer to economic inequality lies not in neoliberalism or the financial markets themselves, but in "proactive policies centered on the common good," Archbishop Coakley said.

Instead, he added, the pope in his 2020 book "Let Us Dream" promotes a "new ethos" around economic thinking based on the work of economists Mariana Mazzucato and Kate Raworth.

Quoting from the book, the statement said the economists' "ideas formed from their experience in the periphery reflecting a concern about the grotesque inequality of billions facing extreme poverty while the richest one percent own half of the world's financial wealth.”

In the book, the pope also said that he sees thinking that is "not ideological, which moves beyond the polarization of free market capitalism and state socialism and which has at its heart a concern that all of humanity have access to land, lodging, and labor. All of these speak to priorities of the Gospel and the principles of the church's social doctrine.”

Going forward, Archbishop Coakley, cited the second reading from Sunday Masses prior to Labor Day where St. James "tells us that we become judges with evil designs when we remain distant from the poor.”

"Pope Francis has made a similar point as he observes that we sometimes justify our indifference to the poor by looking the other way and living our lives as if they simply do not exist. Not only are our actions insufficient, but our sight as well, when we ignore the poor and do not allow their pleas to touch our hearts," he said.

He invited Catholics to accept the challenge of "reemerging from this crisis with an economy that works for all of God's children.”

He also urged people to pray for those who have died during the pandemic, people who are ill, those who have lost their jobs and for a final end to the crisis.

In addition, the archbishop called on people to "do what we can to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities from rising infections." And he suggested that people find time to volunteer or donate at a local parish, with Catholic Charities or a Catholic Campaign for Human Development-funded organization working to rebuild communities.

"Finally, let us engage in building 'a better kind of politics' by entering into dialogue with elected officials, calling them to an authentic politics that is rooted in the dignity of the human person and promotes the common good.”

May They Rest in Peace: Sr. Gloria Glinski, IHM

Sr. Gloria Glinski, IHM, died Aug. 30, 2021 at her home, the IHM Senior Living Community.

On Nov. 7, 1926, Gloria Rose Glinski was born to Walter and Julia (Lewandowski) Glinski in Detroit, Mich. Along with her three brothers, the family belonged to St. Ladislaus parish in Hamtramck, where the children attended the elementary and high schools. Her father was a City of Detroit Police Officer and her mother managed the household and children’s education. Gloria graduated from Girls’ Catholic Central in 1944. She entered the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe and received the religious name Sister Roberta Marie. 

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, services were private at the IHM Motherhouse Chapel on Thursday, Sept. 2.  
Sr. Gloria Glinski, IHM

Sister Gloria was a long-time elementary school teacher in the state of Michigan; including St. Joseph, Monroe; St. Boniface and Our Lady of Good Counsel, Detroit; St. Phillip, Battle Creek; St. Thomas, Ann Arbor; St. John, Jackson, St. Michael, Flint; and St. Regis and Holy Name, Birmingham. 

During this time, she earned a bachelor’s degree at Marygrove College and master’s degree in Education at Wayne State University. In 1982, she returned to formal study at Madonna College, Livonia, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Gerontology. Her ministry moved into social services and pastoral care at Marian Place, Monroe, and Cadillac Nursing Home, Detroit. 

Another change came after a year of renewal in 1990, when Sr. Gloria first left Michigan to minister in Winter Haven, Florida, at St. Joseph Parish, and Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Incarnation School, Sarasota. Returning to the Motherhouse in 1997, she continued her work in Pastoral Care and as a Clinic Aide. Even after retiring in 2004, she continued to volunteer in Pastoral Care. 

Sister Gloria is survived by brother Jerry, sisters-in-law Dolores Glinski and Helen Glinski, cousins, and her sisters in community. Brothers Eugene and Robert preceded her. 

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, services will be private at the IHM Motherhouse Chapel on Thurs., Sept. 2. The services will be Livestreamed beginning at 10 a.m. and may be viewed until Sept. 23, 2021. Arrangements are under the direction of the Rupp Funeral Home. Memorials may be made to the IHM Retirement Fund, 610 W. Elm Ave., Monroe, MI 48162-7909.

Obituaries for clergy and religious who have lived or served in the Archdiocese of Detroit may be emailed to [email protected] Obituaries are printed as they are submitted, but may be edited for grammar and style. Detroit Catholic reserves the right to refuse or edit any submissions.