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The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

People in the Pews Archives

What is the “mind of the Church”?

posted by jmcgee

Good question, and it’s something every deacon should ponder.  But Deacon Bill Ditewig has an anecdote that speaks volumes: One day, as I was leaving the building, I encountered one of our bishops waiting for a taxi. He had been […]

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Looking for something to do on Friday?

posted by jmcgee

Try fasting, says one British bishop.  From the Guardian: The Right Rev Kieran Conry, of Arundel and Brighton, said the traditional Friday Fast Day was a “source of pride” and something that marked Catholics out as different. In his pastoral […]

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Parishioners raise bail for accused priest

posted by jmcgee

How is this for a testament of faith? From UPI: A California priest accused of sex crimes against a 12-year-old boy has been freed on bail with money raised by parishioners who say they believe he’s innocent. The Rev. Alejandro […]

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Sparky Anderson, “a great human being and a man of faith”

posted by jmcgee

The baseball world is mourning the passing of legendary manager Sparky Anderson, who died today at age 76. But as much as his heart belonged to baseball, it also belonged to his Catholic faith, which he embraced as an adult: […]

Men get a “divine two-by-four across the face”

posted by jmcgee

Ouch. It happened in Connecticut, at a men’s conference that attracted hundreds of the faithful: The bright, sunny Saturday, Oct. 23, was a perfect day for men to tackle important projects: rake leaves, clean rain gutters, install storm windows, deepen […]

“My God is an awesome God…”

posted by jmcgee

So sang the thousands of young people who gathered last weekend at Six Flags Over Texas for the Lone Star State’s World Youth Day. You can get a taste of what they experienced by visiting this link and watching a […]

New book reveals “Smorgasbord Catholics” who love their Church

posted by jmcgee

There are some pretty compelling conclusions here — and I’m sure there will be a lot of debate about what it all means. Details: Public outcry about the sex-abuse crisis, disdain for arrogant bishops and disagreement with church doctrine about […]

Cheers: priest opens bar in a Roman crypt

posted by jmcgee

Not only that, but it’s named for a beloved pope. From AFP: The beer is cheap, the waiters are talkative and the music is 1960s Motown — but the new pub that opened its doors this week in a historic […]

Did you see any kids?

posted by jmcgee

I got an email from a reader and blogger, D. Scott Miller, alerting me to this post of his. He’s involved with youth ministry, and in the course of his blogging, referenced a blog post of my own, about the […]

Stormy weather: TV weatherman fired over his faith?

posted by jmcgee

That seems to be what happened, according to this account: A Virginia Beach TV weatherman has been fired — and the reasons management gave him were all related to his after-hours ministry. Jon Cash, a 21-year employee of WAVY-TV, appeared […]

Grace under water

posted by jmcgee

A church in Washington state held is Blessing of the Animals a little early this year — on Friday. But the local paper was there and captured this colorful gallery of pictures. A choice moment, below. God bless us, everyone.

Faithful campaign for Mary’s return

posted by jmcgee

A mural of Mary in a Denver church has been covered up — and it’s sparked some controversy: All it took for Mercy Cruz was two days and a few words to gather about 70 signatures for a letter to […]

It’s the ’60s, stupid

posted by jmcgee

Historian and theologian Fr. Mark Massa, S.J. has just written a new book called “The American Catholic Revolution: How the ’60s Changed the Church Forever,” and he gave an interview about it to the Religion News Service: Q: Why should […]

The holdouts

posted by jmcgee

Some die-hards in Boston are refusing to surrender their church, even after six long years. The video below tells part of their story.

The Rescuer

posted by jmcgee

He may have one of the more unusual jobs around — but he’s providing an invaluable service: Lou McClung’s past life as a handyman, and his present career as a photographer, makeup artist and manufacturer, were perfect preparation for his […]

On their feet, and on their knees: marching for life in Michigan

posted by jmcgee

Diane M. Korzeniewski, who runs the excellent blog Te Deum laudamaus, alerts me to this striking photo essay,covering a march and mass in Michigan, conducted by the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. She reports a remarkable turnout — more than […]

“Catholics Can”

posted by jmcgee

No, you’re not witnessing some weird liturgical improvisation in the picture above. It’s part of a remarkable mass that was celebrated in Salt Lake City recently. Details: People of all abilities attended the “Catholics Can” Mass at the Cathedral of […]

More Catholics meet their match online

posted by jmcgee

Looking for love? Stay right where you are. It could be just a few keystrokes away. From Catholic San Francisco: The road single Catholics take in search of Mr. or Ms. Right can be a long and winding one indeed. […]

Passing the basket — and the sunscreen

posted by jmcgee

A parish in Knoxville, Tennessee had a big outdoor mass last weekend and the local media came to check it out. Video below. Story and more video here. And this blog has more pictures and video, too.

Lutheran or Catholic? Can you tell?

posted by jmcgee

The gentleman pictured above is — drumroll please — a Lutheran minister. And he’s part of a thriving ministry to Hispanics, many of whom are formerly Catholic. Details, from The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: The Rev. Jhon Freddy Correa pours blessed water […]

Mark Wahlberg: “I love golf and I love church…”

posted by jmcgee

A little celebrity news from Down Under: Reformed bad boy Mark Wahlberg is dedicated to attending church each day — even during his hectic Australian tour with Will Ferrell to promote their new film The Other Guys. Wahlberg, 39, went […]

Lost and found: man reconciles with Church after 80 years

posted by jmcgee

A remarkable odyssey has finally come to a close. From the Louisville Courier-Journal: In the annals of people who returned to their childhood faith after a time of alienation, few have had a longer sojourn than James O’Bryan. The Louisville […]

Making assumptions about The Assumption

posted by jmcgee

The clever video below, from the good people at Busted Halo, tells us everything you need to know about the feast we celebrate Sunday. H/T Concord Pastor (with an added wave of the deacon stole out to Mike Hayes in […]

Epic: one man plans to tweet the bible

posted by jmcgee

I hope he has strong thumbs. Details: File this under “people with good intentions, a whole lot of commitment and an Internet connection.” A UK worship director has planned to tweet the Christian Bible — or summaries of each chapter, […]

In recession: “You are now entering the mission field”

posted by jmcgee

As this item from Arkansas Catholic notes, those words have broad application for deacons: For many years, evangelical churches have posted signs at their parking lot exits that proclaim, “You are now entering the mission field.” Immaculate Conception Church, located […]

Together behind bars: one couple’s remarkable prison ministry

posted by jmcgee

Meet a couple in their 70’s who are spending their golden years in an unlikely place. From the Hartford, Ct. Catholic Transcript: What started as a penance after confession has blossomed into long-term labor of love for a husband and […]

Tom Monaghan pledges to give away half his fortune

posted by jmcgee

He’s joined a growing list of zillionaires who have decided that, since you can’t take it with you, you might as well give it all away. From AnnArbor.com: Tom Monaghan, the founder of Ann Arbor-based Domino’s Pizza who now focuses […]

Altar servers visit Rome — and most of them are girls

posted by jmcgee

John Allen has the scoop: According to an old Italian saying, only cani e americani move in Rome in August – dogs and Americans. The sweltering heat, however, did not deter an estimated 50,000 altar boys and girls, mostly but […]

Report: more families can’t afford a funeral

posted by jmcgee

A sobering sign of the times, in this story out of Cleveland: For people who are struggling to make ends meet, a sudden expense can be devastating, and there are times it can be catastrophic. A growing number of local […]

A crippling disease in the Church

posted by jmcgee

Mark Shea puts his finger on it right here. It’s clericalism.  And you see it rear its ugly head in some of the most divisive issues afflicting the Church, beginning with women’s ordination: What drives the push for women’s ordination […]

“Extraordinary celebrants of the Eucharist”?

posted by jmcgee

A friend sent this along, and it is truly mind-boggling. Or maybe, mind-blowing. Read it and weep, or maybe laugh, from a diocese in Mississippi: In June, the Mission and Ministry in Mississippi Task Force Committee held meetings with the […]

The Voice of God goes silent

posted by jmcgee

A friend who follows baseball — Mike “God Googler” Hayes — draws my attention to a big loss in the world of sports: Bob Sheppard, whose elegant intonation as the public-address announcer at Yankee Stadium for more than half a […]

How does your church rate?

posted by jmcgee

Now there’s a place where you can find out. The story is in this morning’s Detroit Free Press: We use dating Web sites to find soul mates. Now, some entrepreneurs want to take that to a higher level and help […]

Real men pray the rosary

posted by jmcgee

That’s the name of a Facebook page that caught the attention of a reporter at the Riverside Press-Enterprise in California, and he decided to investigate: David Calvillo used to think praying the rosary was for “old ladies and funerals.” Then […]

Do kids matter to marriage?

posted by jmcgee

It turns out, more people are saying “No.” A blog at the New York Times takes note: One of the more surprising trends in marriage during the past 20 years is the fact that most couples no longer view children […]

Diocese removes school chaplains due to priest shortage

posted by jmcgee

Another sad sign of the times. This news comes from the Diocese of Fall River, in Massachusetts: The Rev. Jay Mello sat on a metal dugout bleacher, a baseball bat in hand. He laughed and joked with several members of […]

Why mass is like Disneyland

posted by jmcgee

It’s all about clothes. Below is a vintage photograph of guests at Disneyland in the 1950s. And below, from 2006. It’s not too great of a leap to compare the fashions at an amusement park to the clothes at church.  […]

The Fall of the House of Usher

posted by jmcgee

Those kindly folks who help take up the collection can cause trouble, it seems: Police responded to Mary, Mother of God Roman Catholic Church on Sunday for a report of a fight in the parking lot between an usher and […]

Can LA teach the Vatican how to fill pews?

posted by jmcgee

An interesting observation here, from blogger Joe Ferullo: My 23-year-old cousin from Italy has been staying with us for three months. A lot of things have surprised him about Los Angeles — the wide streets, old buildings that were only […]

First Communion for 500

posted by jmcgee

‘Tis the season for First Communions and Confirmations — and a parish in California may well have one of the largest First Communion classes anywhere.  How’s THIS for feeding the multitude?   From Catholic San Francisco: Saturday morning first Communion […]

“Who can mock this church?”

posted by jmcgee

That’s the question that kicks off Nicholas Kristof’s column in the Times this morning, and it’s a must-read: The Vatican believes that this newspaper and other news organizations have been unfair and overzealous in excavating the church’s cover-ups of child […]

Blessings from lay people?

posted by jmcgee

My post yesterday about deacons giving blessings prompted a reader to write: My question is, as a eucharistic minister, would you have in your repertoire a short blessing that we can use when a non-Catholic or child comes up for […]

“I am truly sorry”

posted by jmcgee

“You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous […]

A patron saint for drug smugglers?

posted by jmcgee

Yes. Believe it or not, a devotion has sprung up in Mexico: In these dark times, the faithful still come to worship in the chapel of Jesus Malverde, Mexico’s patron saint of drug traffickers. They kneel in front of his […]

“It’s not a sin”

posted by jmcgee

Feeling guilty about backsliding this Lent? It’s not as bad as you may think: Maybe you gave up chocolate, but no one was watching when you passed the candy dish. Maybe you gave up taking the elevator, but your legs […]

Church bans child of gay couple from school

posted by jmcgee

A controversial decision by the Catholic Church in Colorado is making headlines — and sparking protests: A crowd holding signs protesting the treatment of a student with lesbian parents exchanged smiles and waves with parishioners walking into a Boulder church […]

Inspiration for a life of whoa

posted by jmcgee

Well, out of Hawaii comes this item, and it’s certainly something I haven’t seen in New York City: Attend any Big Island rodeo and you will see small leather crosses attached to the saddles of many of the riders. Each […]

“A good priest is hard to find”

posted by jmcgee

That’s the title of a stem-winder of a rant that is must reading for anyone involved in parish life. It was prompted by this post, wherein the blogger notes a sad state of affairs: Lately I’ve taken to reading the […]

Why you should take your kids to church

posted by jmcgee

This Canadian writer , in a secular paper, argues that they get more out of it than some people may think: Years ago I asked a close friend why she dragged her children to Mass every Sunday. Children in church […]

Ash not: attorney told to take off ashes in the courtroom

posted by jmcgee

In Iowa last week, Ash Wednesday became an occasion for trying penitence — and for trying a judge’s patience: The age-old question of separation of church and state played itself out in a Marshall County courtroom Wednesday. After a lunch […]

Stand and deliver: posture in church

posted by jmcgee

A columnist who writes from Ohio is using the beginning of Lent to wonder about the great cardio workout people get in church: Before Lent got going, I’d been writing about some of those “edge phenomena” around worship, “adiaphora” or […]

In Haiti, faith among the ruins

posted by jmcgee

How do you rebuild a country’s faith after its spiritual infrastructure has been — in essence — destroyed? It’s happening right now in Haiti: Mass at Port-au-Prince’s Sacred Heart Catholic church is held under a UNICEF tarp beside Coleman tents. […]

Is this the way to save Catholic schools?

posted by jmcgee

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at one enterprising business model: Tim Busch has an answer to the epidemic of closing Catholic schools. And it has nothing to do with vouchers. It couldn’t come at a more critical moment. […]

The last word

posted by jmcgee

At a church in Michigan, the pastor has posted a parting shot for people who decide to leave mass early: Some people still take off right after Communion at St. Peter Church, but not as many now that they have […]

A rare San Francisco “relic”: a public display of faith

posted by jmcgee

A blog at the New York Times takes note of a cultural curiosity, as the most secular of American cities (though named for a saint) still manages once in a while to show a strain of Catholic fervor: There was […]

Taking a stand on kneeling

posted by jmcgee

I’m sure the bishop has his reasons for this, but this strikes me as a little heavy-handed: Belleville Catholic Bishop Edward Braxton has set a deadline of this weekend for all parishioners who attend Corpus Christi Church: You must kneel […]

How to merge two parishes: one pastor’s experience

posted by jmcgee

If you’d like some insight into how it’s done, this essay at the Catholic News Service is both informative, and inspiring. The pastor, Fr. Kenneth Doyle, concludes: There is still, of course, some sadness over the merger and some adjustment […]

Northern exposure: meet the Catholics of Alaska

posted by jmcgee

How do you run a diocese with just a few priests and hundreds of miles of territory to cover? The St. Anthony Messenger finds some fascinating answers in Alaska: Despite the shortage of priests, the Anchorage Archdiocese has 32 vibrant […]

On receiving communion in the hand

posted by jmcgee

[My diocese, like many, has instituted new guidelines for receiving Holy Communion, amid growing concerns about the H1N1 virus.  One of those is the suggestion that Catholics, at least until the spring, only receive in the hand, not on the […]

Catholicism: the next generation

posted by jmcgee

“This new generation seems ideally positioned to address the lamentable tendency in American Catholic life to drive a wedge between the church’s pro-life message and its peace-and-justice commitments. More generally, they can help us find the sane middle between two […]

Living together — but not the way you might think

posted by jmcgee

This is a little out-of-the ordinary: the story of a couple who lived together before getting married, but had a change of heart.   The Denver Catholic Register interviewed them: Western Slope parishioners Mike and Toni (not their real names) have […]

Soldier, reporter, Catholic

posted by jmcgee

That sums up the unusual resume of Sgt. Neil McCabe. Boston’s diocesan newspaper The Pilot has more: While Sgt. Neil W. McCabe was prepared for the blazing temperatures and the dusty, dry conditions which are part of the arid desert […]

Why give to your parish?

posted by jmcgee

Here’s one answer, from my parish in Queens. It’s part of our annual stewardship drive, and this video is being shown Sunday at all the masses. Kudos to one of our trustees, Roger Aguinaldo, who shot and produced it. (Shameless […]

What if Dorothy Day were alive today?

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

She might very well be pleased with this unusual endeavor in Ohio, which is taking her values into the 21st century:  The Dayton Catholic Workers Movement, a charitable organization that helps the homeless, is opening a new Dayton restaurant. The restaurant, the […]

October 24: Lay Fast for Priests

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

With World Priest Day approaching on October 25, a number of people will be joining an international fast for the world’s priests:   Anna Rae-Kelly saw the Catholic priesthood becoming embattled as a result of the clergy abuse scandal that […]

A leading economic indicator: robbing from poor boxes

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

From Boston comes this story that shows that lengths some will go to — and the depths some will plunge — during hard times:  Whoever broke into St. Ambrose Church had to squeeze between a statue of St. Ambrose and […]

Church ordains convicted pedophile as minister

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

This piece of news just boggles the mind:  A tiny Louisville church’s newest minister is a gifted music leader and popular among its three dozen members. Mark Hourigan is also a sex offender.  Almost a decade ago, long before he joined […]

Funniest license plate. Ever.

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

A longtime reader spotted this on a car belonging to someone who works for the Archdiocese of Washington.    

Charities and the recession: “We’ve never seen anything like this”

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

If you want to know how the recession is hitting some charities, this item from the AP lays it out:  For many social-service charities across America, the recession has delivered a staggering one-two punch. Sharp drops in donations and investment […]

The unofficial anthem of the American Catholic parish

posted by Deacon Greg Kandra

I just got back from our parish’s annual fundraiser golf tournament and dinner dance.  And once again, it was confirmed for me that the great musical force that unifies the American Church isn’t Gregorian chant, or classic hymns like “Praise […]

Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives!

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below.

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The immediate aftermath of the storm for this class would be

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy.

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

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