Posted on 09/3/2021 00:00 AM (Detroit Catholic)
Fr. William (Bill) Riegel, CSB, entered eternal life on Aug. 23, 2021 at the age of 78.
Fr. Riegel was born on June 3, 1943. He was ordained a priest on June 3, 1973. Fr. Riegel was a native of Detroit but spent most of his Basilian life ministering in Ontario. He moved to live with the Basilian Fathers of Novi and ministered at Detroit Catholic Central High School in 2014, where he assisted in campus ministry, occasionally taught a theology class, and served as a counselor for students.
Fr. Riegel also assisted at various parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit, most regularly at St. Joseph Parish in South Lyon.
Fr. Riegel is predeceased by his parents, Alden and Laura (Ouellette) Riegel, and his sister, Carol Ann Wood. He is survived by his two sisters, Sr. Alice Riegel, OP, and Mary Lou Zarem, as well as nephews and nieces.
Visitation took place at the Chapel of St. Basil, Catholic Central High School, 27225 Wixom Road, Novi, MI 48734 on Friday, August 27, with an evening vigil prayer service.
Visitation was also held at St. Joseph Parish, 830 S. Lafayette Street, South Lyon, MI 48178 on Saturday, Aug. 28, with a Mass of Christian Burial following.
Posted on 09/3/2021 00:00 AM (Detroit Catholic)
HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (CNS) –– Archbishop Joseph Nguyen Nang of Ho Chi Minh City has encouraged people in his archdiocese, a COVID-19 epicenter, to cling to hope and support one another.
He said local people have been in lockdown for three months to contain the delta variant outbreak but remain at grave risk of infection, reported ucanews.com.
"Difficulties and challenges now are no longer just food and medical and financial supplies, but psychological and spiritual suffering because our loved ones are infected or have passed away hastily without immediate cremation. They will return in urns of their ashes," he said.
The Center for Disease Control in Ho Chi Minh City reports an average of 241 deaths daily. Archbishop Nang noted priests and religious have died of COVID-19, while many others have recovered.
Binh An Parish recorded 70 deaths during July and August, and many other parishes have 10-20 deaths. Many families have two or three dead relatives, while some families have no one left, ucanews.com reported.
"How can our hearts not ache when we witness these distressing scenes and see children left alone because their families died from COVID-19?" Archbishop Nang asked. Ucanews.com reported he pledged priests and parishes will care for and bring up those who are orphaned by COVID-19.
Noting that if one member suffers, all members suffer, the archbishop said the local church is in communion with people bearing emotional and physical pain.
"We grieve and cry just as Jesus himself did when he stood before the coffin of the son of the widow of Nain and the tomb of Lazarus," he said.
The archbishop urged people to send out this message: Do not lose hope. He quoted St. Paul: "Praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Archbishop Nang said he and local priests celebrate daily Masses with special prayers for those who have died of COVID-19, and he said Catholic families should recite prayers for the dead.
The archbishop also asked local Catholics to do everything possible to make the message of hope come true by prayers, visits, consolation, encouragement, sympathy and aid. No one is disappointed by their indifference and ignorance.
"Our hope is anchored firmly and securely in the mystery of the cross and resurrection of Christ, and we are guaranteed to never be disappointed when we walk in the dark," he said in his letter, posted Sept. 1.
Sr. Mary Tran Ngoc Thao Linh, a member of Tan Viet Lovers of the Holy Cross died of COVID-19 Aug. 24. She was 32, ucanews.com reported.
In a letter to other nuns before her death, Sister Linh said the virus was the cross God offered her so that she wholeheartedly lived out her vocation of loving the cross. All people have their crosses to help them follow God and become holy.
"Thinking about life and death, I see that it is just the name of two different life forms. In fact, we never die, so I do not beg God to let me get well or live a long life," she said.
If walking on a journey, what the traveler wants most is to be able to reach the destination as soon as possible, the nun said.
"If death comes early, it's probably a good thing. Although death is not our destination, it is a sign that we are very close to it," she said.
On Sept. 2, the Center for Disease Control in Ho Chi Minh City reported that more than 91,000 COVID-19 patients were being given medical treatment in their homes, 21,000 others were in quarantine centers and more than 40,000 were hospitalized.
Some 6.2 million people in the commercial hub of 9 million have been vaccinated but only 350,384 are fully inoculated.
The city plans to provide humanitarian aid to 4.5 million people affected by the outbreak in the coming months.
Posted on 09/3/2021 00:00 AM (Detroit Catholic)
DETROIT — A crowded assortment of young adults mingles around the grounds of Sweetest Heart of Mary Church in Detroit.
They are bankers, health care workers, teachers, interns, startup executives and media relations personnel, all coming from an assortment of parishes, but all looking for the same thing:
Connection. And maybe a quick meal.
August marked the start of the fifth year of the Detroit chapter of Young Catholic Professionals, an apostolate geared toward those in the 22-39-year-old age bracket who are looking to live out their faith in a professional work environment.
Trey Bauman, who is beginning his second term as president of YCP Detroit, said 100 to 150 people show up regularly to YCP events. Even in an ever-connected — and increasingly socially distant — world, people are still looking for those one-on-one relationships with fellow Catholics, Bauman said.
“People are longing for connection, and YCP is especially attractive, I would say, to those 23- to 27-year old who have left college, now transitioning into their first or second career, and want to be around others who are building their lives and want Christ involved in that life,” Bauman, a parishioner at SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Sterling Heights, told Detroit Catholic.
YCP Detroit usually hosts two events a month: an executive speaker series featuring a prominent Detroit-area professional who offers testimony about living out their Catholic faith in a secular workplace, and a happy hour at a local establishment for networking.
The group also has events and outings for the 30 dues-paying members of the organization, which are also open to non-members for a fee. Bauman said members pay $150 a year.
Membership includes the opportunity to have a spiritual mentor for direction, professional development and free admittance to happy hour events where non-members have to pay.
“The folks who pay the $150 actually get a member experience, to be actively part of an organization that’s professionally driven,” Bauman said. “By becoming a member, it’s a financial commitment, which leads to a great investment in the organization. That investment leads to benefits in terms of professional development events we have through the year.”
Jonathan Lucken, a parishioner at St. Mary in Royal Oak, joined YCP after being involved in the Detroit Catholic Young Adult Committee. Lucken was seeking to join a community with other young adults after moving to the Detroit area from Cincinnati.
“Seeing the impact YCP has had on the community, mainly for young Catholics in today’s day and age when we can be drawn away by our phones or hide in our hermit holes, was really attractive to me,” Lucken said. “YCP really draws us out and gives us a community we are actively look for, especially as we come out of COVID-19. That’s something people are looking for: an authentic experience.”
Beyond meeting other Catholic professionals in the area, Lucken said he’s been more comfortable sharing his faith in the workplace in a respectful, professional way that still boldly proclaims the Gospel in a way that fits a modern workplace.
“Detroit is a very big Catholic town, and it’s been fun to meet other Catholics and speak with coworkers who have kids my age who are just out of college and looking for a job, telling them about this great resource,” Lucken said. “We have representatives from every industry (in YCP), from automotive to insurance, finance and medical. It’s a great opportunity to grow.”
Czeena Devera, a parishioner of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth who works in the publishing industry, found YCP Detroit in 2018 after moving to Michigan in 2016.
Devera discovered a YCP event at St. Joseph Oratory in 2018 using the MeetUp app and has been involved in the organization ever since.
“As a Catholic who works in the secular world, I like how the speakers YCP brings in show you how to live your faith in a non-Catholic world, how you can still bring your faith into the workplace,” Devera said. “Plus there is usually food and drinks at these events, which is always a positive.”
Events, especially the executive speaker series, always begin with prayer, and a priest is usually available for confessions. Recently, the YCP team has been incorporating Mass to start the event, before people congregate for socializing and networking and then returning to the church for the speaker’s keynote.
“I love the fact we start with Mass now,” Devera said. “I try to go to daily Mass, but now that I’m back at the office for part of the week, it’s hard to do that. So any opportunity I get to go to daily Mass is great. It’s kind of an icebreaker; you don’t have to talk to everyone right away, and it builds something for us all to have in common.”
Placing Christ front and center of the ministry is what will lead to YCP’s continued growth in its fifth year, Bauman said.
“YCP strives to be that welcoming environment where anybody looking for a place to make friends will have 150 peers waiting to meet them,” Bauman said. “It’s not like walking into a place they don’t know. It’s for people who are working, are strong in their faith, and want to meet like-minded people.
“Not only are you meeting new people and getting a good meal, it’s a spiritually focused environment without being overwhelmingly spiritual,” Bauman added. “It’s a place where people can learn about being Christ in the workplace, which I think people are hungry for.”
Posted on 09/3/2021 00:00 AM (Detroit Catholic)
WASHINGTON (CNS) –– Former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick pleaded not guilty Sept. 3 in a Massachusetts court, where he is facing three counts of sexually assaulting a teenager in the 1970s.
Local news reporters posted a video on Twitter of the 91-year-old McCarrick, wearing a face mask and slowly heading toward Dedham District Court with the aid of a walker as protesters shouted, "Go to hell, McCarrick," and "How many lives, how many children?”
He was not taken under custody but was ordered to post $5,000 bail and have no contact with the alleged victim or children. The former high-ranking, globe-trotting church official also was ordered not to leave the country and surrendered his passport.
The day before the arraignment, a former employee and a former priest of the Archdiocese of Newark filed lawsuits alleging unpermitted sexual contact by McCarrick for alleged incidents in 1991.
However, the Massachusetts case is the first time McCarrick has faced charges for assault of a minor, which is alleged first to have taken place at a wedding reception and continued over the years in different states.
Others have publicly accused McCarrick of abusing them as children, but charges weren't filed as the statute of limitations had run out in some states where the abuse was said to have taken place.
Posted on 09/2/2021 00:00 AM (Detroit Catholic)
BLUE POINT, N.Y. (CNS) ─ Father Kevin M. Smith, a veteran fire chaplain, trauma counselor and loyal friend to scores of active and retired firefighters in the New York metropolitan area, receives more phone calls in early September than any other time of the year.
Most of the calls are from firefighters who served amid the carnage and chaos in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on New York City's World Trade Center.
A fire chaplain with 30 years of service, Father Smith, 60, is commissioned by Nassau County, New York, to minister to members of the county's 71 volunteer fire departments, many of whom work full time with the New York Fire Department.
He also is a member of the county's Critical Incident Stress Management team, which provides support to firefighters and emergency medical services workers who are dealing with trauma associated with their duties as first responders.
Father Smith's cellphone starts ringing and dinging with calls and texts from firefighters in the days leading up to and including the 9/11 anniversary. They come from front-line heroes who have been emotionally and, in many cases, physically affected by the cataclysmic event.
Father Smith -- pastor of Our Lady of the Snow Church in Blue Point in the Diocese of Rockville Centre -- can empathize with the callers. He, too, was a first responder at ground zero, arriving near the scene as the World Trade Center's North Tower was collapsing, completing the total destruction of the two 110-story buildings and resulting in a mountain of crushed concrete, twisted steel and pulverized debris where they once stood in lower Manhattan.
In an interview with Catholic News Service to mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, Father Smith spoke about his role as a chaplain on and after 9/11.
"I can't believe it was 20 years ago," he remarked. "There are days when it feels like yesterday."
For Father Smith, Sept. 11, 2001, began at St. Rose of Lima Church in Massapequa, some 40 miles east of the city. An associate pastor at the time, he had been preparing to celebrate morning Mass when a parish secretary told him to turn on the television where he witnessed the second of two hijacked jetliners crash into the World Trade Center.
Several minutes later, his fire pager chirped, alerting him about the mass casualty incident.
After notifying his pastor that he was responding to the call, Father Smith jumped into his black Chevy Trailblazer -- a vehicle with emergency lights and sirens -- and headed toward the city. Along the way he picked up his younger brother, Patrick Smith, an off-duty New York City firefighter, and dropped him off at his firehouse in the Bronx.
When he eventually arrived in lower Manhattan, Father Smith encountered a surreal scene. The devastation was overwhelming.
"The whole place was filled with smoke," he recalled. "There was a lot of stuff coming out of the air. Fire trucks and Emergency Service Unit vehicles were catching fire from the falling debris and exploding."
Throughout the day and into the early hours the following day, Father Smith -- protected by a fire helmet and bunker coat -- offered prayers, emotional support and assistance to firefighters and other emergency personnel. A trained firefighter, he also helped search for victims.
As shaken first responders went about their business amid the mayhem, a number of them asked Father Smith to hear their confessions.
"They wanted absolution before heading down to 'the pile' because you didn't know what was going to explode next, what was going to fall down," he said.
In addition to ministering to the firefighters, the priest blessed the bodies of many of the FDNY's 343 fallen heroes, including Franciscan Father Mychal Judge, the beloved FDNY chaplain and first certified casualty of 9/11.
For several months following 9/11, Father Smith would commute almost daily from his parish to ground zero, where he continued to offer support to the firefighters, including his brother Patrick, who was among those participating in the recovery efforts.
He said his faith helped sustain him through the difficult work and grueling schedule. "Prayer, adrenaline and the Holy Spirit," were the emboldening forces, he said, adding: "I had a sense that God was with me."
Referring to his vocation as "a ministry of presence," he said he spent time with the firefighters when they were working at ground zero and during their meals and rest breaks.
"I appreciated being a priest and a lot of people appreciated me being a priest. A lot of guys said, 'Father, thank God you're down here with us.' ... I felt needed."
Father Smith was also present to the bereaved members of the fallen firefighters' families. He estimates that he concelebrated 30 to 40 funeral Masses of firefighters, sometimes two or three in a single day.
"I knew a lot of the guys," he said.
He also had been friendly with a number of people who worked inside the towers. One of his former parishes, St. Mary Church in Manhasset, lost 22 parishioners and alumni from its elementary and secondary schools, the majority of whom Father Smith had known personally. He concelebrated several of those funeral liturgies.
"I remember a year or two after 9/11 looking at a list of victims to see how many people I actually knew," Father Smith said. "It was about 60. Sixty friends that I had contact with and knew their families. They were firefighters, guys from Cantor Fitzgerald and the other financial groups at the Trade Center."
Like many emergency responders who served at the World Trade Center site on 9/11 and post-9/11, Father Smith developed health issues related to the toxic conditions of the environment.
"I have chronic sinusitis. I have sleep apnea. I've had some skin cancer," he said. "All have been certified as 9/11-related."
His brother Patrick, meanwhile, was forced to retire from the FDNY in 2006 with a 9/11-related respiratory illness.
Father Smith said he has proactively addressed the emotional scars that he bears from his time at ground zero. "I go to counseling," he said. "It helps, especially on the (9/11) anniversaries. If you're going to do trauma counseling, it's not a bad thing to check in with somebody from time to time.
"The first couple of years, I'd have nightmares, flashbacks, a lot of that stuff."
Father Smith's 9/11 recollections also include positive memories of a time when people expressed their appreciation for the firefighters, police officers, construction workers and many others who pitched in at ground zero.
"At night, when you left the Trade Center, there would be people on the streets with big signs saying: 'Thank You.' They'd hand you a bottle of water or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made by a school kid in Connecticut."
Father Smith fondly remembers strangers chatting with and helping one another, a byproduct of the collective pain people shared and their desire for healing in the wake of the catastrophe.
He said he misses the post-9/11 period that was marked by a heightened degree of charity and fellowship, along with intense national pride and unity.
"It petered out over time to the point today where we're probably yelling and screaming at each other a lot more than we should," the priest said.
"You wish that some of the lessons we learned from 9/11 would have been passed on, like reaching out to one another, forgiving one another, being a little more patient with one another."
The most important lesson, he said: "Cherish every single day."
Posted on 09/2/2021 00:00 AM (Detroit Catholic)
DREXEL HILL, Pa. (CNS) ─ The walk from the front gate of the SCI Phoenix state prison outside of Philadelphia to the chaplain's office is exactly half a mile long. John Killeen knows it well.
He also knows the guards, the parole officers and the incarcerated people he is there to support and coach through their time in prison and their transition home.
He knows who to call in Harrisburg, the state capital, how to set up an inmate with a local telephone number and how to walk a released prisoner through each hour of the overwhelming moments of their first day out.
Rather than packaging his inside knowledge of the prison system into a sterile program -- the kind with which many inmates are all too familiar -- Killeen simply remains present to share when the time is right.
"There is so much need, but nobody knows what they are looking for, or if they do, they don't know how to get it," Killeen said of incarcerated persons and their families.
Killeen doesn't do this work alone. He and his wife Sue have been continuing the ministry of the Mary Mother of Captives support group, now run out of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Drexel Hill for the past nine years.
The Killeens carry on the legacy of founders Jack and Sophie Weber, who in 1996 established the group to help family members survive the effects of having a loved one incarcerated.
More than a system or program, the work of the Killeens, and their parent organization the Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor, is a family of families facing a crisis.
While John's knowledge and guidance drive the transition program, Sue's heart carries the support group because she knows what it's like to carry the burden of seeing one's own child behind bars as she did with their son Jaime.
"Nobody gets it," Sue said, including "neighbors, family, pastors." Family members feel isolated as though they are the only ones in the world going through this experience. Mothers especially feel the shame of their child's incarceration.
During or before their first meeting with the support group, people are anxious about who else will be at the meeting and whether they will be forced to share something they don't want to share, Sue said.
Mary Mother of Captives is a way for participants to find people who will listen and understand one another.
Sue said she has seen mothers carpool to visit their children in jail as well as attend a child's court hearing together in support of the mom. Each group member's child is sent a card on their birthday.
The meeting format is simple. After an opening prayer, each person has the opportunity to share how they are doing, what is going on with their loved one in prison and how their family is coping.
Group members rely on one another for information, but everything shared is strictly confidential.
Mary Mother of Captives draws 112 families to St. Charles either in person or over the phone. The Killeens have ministered to people throughout southeastern Pennsylvania.
This large draw speaks not only to the need, but to the powerful connections and trust established between members. When the Killeens speak about the people they serve either in prison or out, it is like they are talking about their own children. John said many of his guys call him on Father's Day and Christmas.
Since its establishment, the group's service has grown to include sharing artwork and writing created by inmates and it circulates newsletters and videos that promote their human dignity.
The group, with the support of Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor, also runs a national pen pal program. What began as an outgrowth of monthly support meetings in which members would write to each other's imprisoned family members, volunteers now write to 900 prisoners in more than 175 state and federal prisons across the United States.
Often, the letter exchange is the only connection with the outside world for some inmates.
The Killeens want people affected by imprisonment to know they have someone to whom they can turn. The support group, transition program and pen pal program are open to people of all faiths.
Sweeney writes for CatholicPhilly.com, the news website of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Posted on 09/2/2021 00:00 AM (Detroit Catholic)
SEOUL, South Korea (CNS) ─ The mortal remains of the first three Korean Catholic martyrs have been recovered more than two centuries after their deaths, announced the Diocese of Jeonju.
Ucanews.com reported that following historical research and DNA tests, it has been confirmed that the remains are of Paul Yun Ji-chung and James Kwon Sang-yeon, both beheaded in 1791, and Yun's brother, Francis Yun Ji-heon, who was martyred in 1801. Bishop John Kim Son-tae of Jeonju made the announcement during a news conference Sept. 1.
During his visit to South Korea in 2014, Pope Francis beatified the three along with 121 other martyrs persecuted and killed during the rule of the Joseon dynasty in Korea.
Bishop Kim said the remains were recovered in March in Wanju, on the outskirts of Jeonju, near the burial ground of family members of another beatified person that was being converted to a shrine.
"The discovery of the remains is a truly amazing and monumental event," the bishop said, according to Yonhap News Agency.
"This is because our church, which has grown on the foundation of the bloodshed by martyrs, has finally found the remains of the people who began the history of martyrdom."
The diocese said the remains showed cuts made by a sharp object around the necks of Paul Yun Ji-chung and Kwon, and around the neck, upper arms and left femur of Francis Yun Ji-heon.
Christianity came to Korea during the Japanese invasion in 1592, when some Koreans were baptized, probably by Christian Japanese soldiers, according to church sources. It started as a lay movement. Korean Yi Seung-hun, who was baptized in China in 1784, began to baptize others that year.
As the faith began to spread, Catholics faced persecution and hardships from rulers who viewed the religion as a subversive influence. Korean rulers began to see Catholicism as a false religion that denied Confucian ethics and invited Western imperialism to the country, ucanews.com reported.
The persecution in the late 18th and 19th centuries saw thousands of Catholics murdered for refusing to renounce their faith. The largest persecution in 1866 produced some 8,000 martyrs.
Among the most famous martyrs was Andrew Kim Taegon, the first Korean-born Catholic priest and patron saint of clergy in Korea, who was beheaded in 1846 at the age of 25.
In 1984, during his visit to South Korea, Pope John Paul II canonized 103 martyrs, including St. Andrew Kim, and nine French missionaries who had been martyred in the 19th century.
The Korean church is celebrating the 200th birth anniversary of St. Andrew Kim this year.
Church officials say South Korea has about 5.6 million Catholics -- about 8% of the population -- spread in three archdioceses, 14 dioceses and a military ordinariate.
Posted on 09/2/2021 00:00 AM (Detroit Catholic)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) ─ Increasing calls to legalize euthanasia in several European countries, as well as the disregard for vulnerable people and the unborn, are signs of a "throwaway culture" that is gaining ground across the continent, Pope Francis said.
"What is (deemed) useless is discarded. Old people are disposable material; they are a nuisance. Not all of them, but of course, in the collective subconscious of the throwaway culture, the old, the terminally ill, and unwanted children, too; they are returned to the sender before they are born," the pope said in an interview with COPE, the radio station owned by the Spanish bishops' conference, broadcast Sept. 1.
"This throwaway culture has marked us. And it marks the young and the old. It has a strong influence on one of the tragedies of today's European culture," he said.
In March, Spain's parliament passed a law legalizing euthanasia in the country, making it the fourth European country to legalize physician-assisted suicide after Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Other European countries, such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Finland and Norway, allow for what is known as "passive euthanasia," in which patients, under strict circumstances, can elect to not receive treatments, such as nutrition or hydration, that would prolong their lives.
Recently, in Italy, 750,000 people signed a petition to abolish a clause in the Italian criminal code that makes assisted suicide punishable by five to 12 years in prison.
Supporters of euthanasia, the pope said, often use "the idea of compassion, 'that this person may not suffer.' But what the church is asking is to help people to die with dignity. This has always been done."
Pope Francis also lamented "the demographic winter" in Europe, particularly due to increased cases of abortion.
The pope said that while he does "not like to enter into discussions" on whether abortions are "possible up to here or whether it is not possible up to there," what is indisputable is the existence of human life.
"Any embryology manual given to a student in medical school says that by the third week of conception, sometimes before the mother realizes (that she is pregnant), all the organs in the embryo are already outlined, even the DNA. It is a life, a human life.
"Some say, 'It's not a person.' It is a human life!" he continued. "So, in front of a human life, I ask myself two questions: Is it licit to eliminate a human life to solve a problem, is it fair to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? Second question: Is it fair to hire an assassin to solve a problem?"
During the interview, the pope was also asked by COPE about the migration crisis in Europe and what approach should be taken by countries skeptical of welcoming those who cross into their borders.
Pope Francis emphasized the need for countries, especially in Europe, to "welcome, protect, promote and integrate" migrants.
Citing the 2016 terrorist attack in Zaventem, Belgium, the pope noted that those who committed the attack were Belgian-born "children of immigrants who were not integrated" into society.
He also highlighted the need for "dialogue between nations" and that countries must be "honest with themselves" and see how many migrants they can accept into their territory.
"And then there is also a reality regarding migrants -- I have already referred to it, but I'll repeat it -- the reality of the demographic winter. Italy has almost empty villages," Pope Francis said.
"What are you waiting for, to be left with no one? It is a reality. In other words, migration is a help as long as our steps toward integration are fulfilled. That is my position. But of course, a country must be very honest and say: 'this is as far as I can go,'" he said.
– – –
Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju
Posted on 09/2/2021 00:00 AM (Detroit Catholic)
DETROIT — Shortly after having her second child in 2018, Nicole Caruso realized she had fallen into a pattern of dressing for convenience, not in a way that reflected her inherent worth as a daughter of God.
“I didn’t feel like myself. I didn’t feel inspired, and I definitely wasn’t in the best disposition to love my family from a place of fullness and peace,” Caruso said.
Caruso, a professional makeup artist and beauty consultant, former beauty editor, and homeschooling mother of three, shared this sentiment with friends on social media, and in doing so realized she was not alone. they
Others, she learned, felt they were saving the clothing that made them feel good and worthy for special occasions, when in reality, it wasn’t the occasion that made them worthy, but rather, themselves.
Therein, the “Worthy of Wearing” movement was born. What started as a hashtag women used on Instagram to share their reflections eventually became a beautiful, hardcover book of the same name, written by Caruso and published by Sophia Institute Press in 2021.
The book goes beyond your average fashion book –– in its pages, readers will not only find style advice and wardrobe curation guides, along with beautiful photos of joyful women owning their worth, but also Caruso’s reflections on the feminine genius and how what people wear is a reflection of their place as daughters (and sons) of God.
“The truth is, faith and fashion go together,” Caruso writes. “God didn’t just make beauty; He is beauty. All of creation is a reflection of His beauty. . ... When we recognize, cultivate, and celebrate our own inherent beauty, both inside and out, we can change hearts.”
Detroit Catholic interviewed Caruso about her book, style and dressing well in the era of working from home, including how what one wears can help on in the mission to unleash the Gospel. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Nicole Caruso: I always come back to what is good, what is true, what is beautiful. Those things always point to God the Creator and Author of Life, and whenever we feel uninspired or discouraged or in doubt, turning to something good, true and beautiful will reignite our understanding of God as a Father. Especially now that people are working from home, we became disconnected from what is good, and true and beautiful. Because we were all so shocked by what was going on in the world, we were all wearing sweatpants and loungewear; we were giving up.
Using beauty and truth and goodness to serve the Church is really making ourselves a mirror of God’s goodness and of the beauty that he wills for our lives so we can share Him with others.
NC: I think there are a few things at play. Firstly, all of us have an inherent style. I think we can pull inspiration from what is coming out and trending, but we also don’t have to. There is that choice that we can make of, “Does this passing trend impact my style or not?” and “Do I want to give it a try or not?” I feel like making sure we have that autonomy is really important.
What sets us apart from the masses, especially as Catholic women, is that we have the eternal in mind, and we need to remember that we have the autonomy to decide whether we just become one of the crowd or stand apart from it and say, “That’s just not for me.”
In the same thread, seeing this switch from professional clothing (to) things that are made in more jersey and cotton and are easier to sit down in ... I think (brands) are trying to meet people where they are. They know people aren’t going to spend tons of money on dry cleaning right now, so the current trends kind of meet that need. At the same time, if you are someone who loves to work from home in a dry cleaning-only outfit because that is how you feel professional and ready for the day, I don’t think you need to compromise that.
NC: I really do. I know that’s my opinion, but in my experience the days that I spend just a few minutes putting on something that is different than loungewear, I feel ready. It is an external signal to my mind that it is time to be intentional in other things, too. I know if I stay in my pajamas –– which I do sometimes because I am a mom and things get really crazy and I just don’t have a minute to myself until then afternoon –– I feel this internal focus of, “I feel like a slob, I feel like I am gaining weight.” (By getting dressed), I think it can make a difference in how you think about yourself and how you perform your duties.
NC: That’s a great question. When you feel dignified and professional, even if you are home, even if not a human person will see you over the course of your day, I really believe your work will be your best work because of the intentionality I mentioned earlier. And when you perform well because you feel good and because you are in touch with your gifts, you are in touch with your identity in Christ and you are in touch with the charisms that you have, you are going to live more fully.
When we can receive people well, when we are approachable, when we are cheerful, when we are confident and calm, and our interior demeanor is not distracted and insecure and worried and focused inward on self, we can share Christ from a place of openness.
I think as long as we are getting dressed in a way that is very authentic to who we are, that is not trying to create a persona, draw attention or come from a place of vanity or materialism, we can give of ourselves from a place of wholeness where Christ can really pour through that.
NC: We have to have a purity of intention in everything we do. The only way to really examine our intention in dressing is to take it to prayer and say, “Lord, I have to get dressed every day. How do I do it in a way that serves you and doesn’t serve me or my passions, or my temptations or my tendencies?”
When you are examining the gifts Christ has given you, and when you are trying to represent that with how you dress, it’s almost difficult to fall into vanity. Because when you are wearing something that makes you feel like yourself, it is very hard to think about yourself. Your freedom is that you are able to speak to others without that kind of inward insecurity.
Women, especially in faith communities, should feel to delight in beauty, delight in their clothing in a way that is very simple and childlike. And if they are wondering how to do that, look at any toddler girl at Mass. She is probably wearing something that makes her feel like a princess for no other reason than it just brings her joy. Christ invites us to be more like little children, and I think in this we are allowed to have fun and to be playful, but not ostentatious.
If we are buying things outside of our means or doing things to be liked or to be noticed, of course that would not be stylish for the right reasons. That would be stylish in vain. But we can still be stylish and retain our humility.
NC: Yes! I think men can resonate with this idea because all of us have this desire to feel dignified and put together and to feel that little boost of confidence that comes from wearing something that is an accurate representation of self to others.
I think it is beautiful to look back at old movies of Carey Grant and actors from that era because I feel like men looked so dignified and handsome. The chivalry, the clothing and everything else were all in one package. As we have gotten more casual as a culture, we have sort of toned-down manners and etiquette and dating. I feel like it affects so many different parts of our culture when we take away some of that effort that is put forth in our personal appearance.
NC: I think there is something really beautiful about complimenting a complete stranger and letting them feel seen and known and loved. I have lived in different cities on the East Coast, and it always brought me a lot of joy when someone would say, “I love your shoes” –– just a random passerby on the sidewalk — and you just feel like, “Oh my gosh, wow, someone recognized something about me that they thought was special!” With children especially, I think it is so important that their preferences, their creativity and their dignity are acknowledged and affirmed.
I think one way we can increase this message is by letting someone know when you can tell they put forth a little bit of effort. Just show them that you noticed, and I think that can go a long way.
By Nicole Caruso
Hardcover – May 25, 2021
Learn more about the Worthy of Wearing movement at nicolemcaruso.com/worthy-of-wearing.
Posted on 09/1/2021 00:00 AM (Detroit Catholic)
NEW YORK (CNS) ─ The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has determined that allegations of sexual abuse of a minor against Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn were found "not to have the semblance of truth."
The finding was announced Sept. 1 by the Archdiocese of New York, which had initiated an investigation into the allegation under "Vos Estis Lux Mundi" ("You are the light of the world"), the norms issued by Pope Francis in 2019 to address sexual abuse allegations against bishops.
"Given this finding, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will not authorize any further canonical process to address the accusations," the archdiocese said.
After the announcement, Bishop DiMarzio reiterated that the allegation was false, a stance he has maintained since it was first made in November 2019.
"I repeat what I have said from the beginning. There is no truth to these allegations. Throughout my more than 50-year ministry as a priest, I have never abused anyone," he said in statement released by the Brooklyn Diocese.
He also said he cooperated with the inquiry by the New York Archdiocese "because I know I did nothing wrong."
"I have prayed for a conclusion to this investigation, and these final results further verify, as I have consistently said, that these allegations have absolutely no merit," Bishop DiMarzio said.
The bishop's attorney, Joseph A. Hayden Jr., said the decision by the Vatican's congregation followed "an impartial and rigorous investigation" by John O'Donnell, a former federal prosecutor, and an investigative firm founded by Louis Freeh, former FBI director.
He said the involvement of two former law enforcement officials in the investigation "should leave no doubt" about the Vatican's conclusion.
Bishop DiMarzio was accused of abuse by two men. In November 2019, Mark Matzek claimed that then-Father DiMarzio abused him when he was 12 years old in 1974 and 1975, when the priest was assigned to St. Nicholas Church in Jersey City, New Jersey.
A second man, Samier Tadros, now of Daytona Beach, Florida, subsequently filed a civil lawsuit in February 2021 after hearing about Matzek's accusation from a family member.
The lawsuit claimed Tadros was abused from 1978 to 1980 in Holy Rosary Church in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey. The Tablet, Brooklyn's diocesan newspaper, reported that Tadros contended in the lawsuit "that he was receiving one-on-one religious instruction" from Bishop DiMarzio at the time.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents both accusers, disagreed with the Vatican's conclusion based on the investigation's findings.
"The investigations concerning the credibility of my clients were subjective and biased because the investigators were controlled by and paid for by the Catholic Church," Garabedian said in a statement released soon after the New York Archdiocese's announcement.
"The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which rendered the decision, is in the business of continuing the secrecy of clergy sexual abuse by hiding the truth," Garabedian said.
He added that both men will continue to pursue their claims in the courts "and justice will prevail when the truth is revealed."