Author Archives: George P. Matysek Jr.

About George P. Matysek Jr.

George P. Matysek Jr. is the assistant managing editor of The Catholic Review in Baltimore.

The Narthex has moved!

The Narthex has a new permanent home over on the Catholic Review’s snazzy new website.  Please bookmark the page at www.catholicreview.org/blogs/the-narthex.  Come check out my new home!


A funeral home director and a priest walk into a stadium

Trinitarian Father Stan DeBoe (CR photo illustration/Robert Thompson)

Charles Hauboldt, a Texas funeral home owner, wants nothing more than to see his Houston Texans bury the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl drive at this Sunday’s big game at M&T Bank Stadium. He’ll get his chance as the winning bidder for a playoff ticket auctioned by a Texas Catholic priest and rabid Ravens’ fan.

Hauboldt’s high bid of $2,115 won him the ticket, a flight to Baltimore, lodging and ground transportation – not to mention the chance to sit next to Trinitarian Father Stan DeBoe, the man who put the ticket up for grabs. The money will be used to help purchase a bus for Father DeBoe’s parish, Our Lady of Sorrows in Victoria, Texas.

Father DeBoe, whose parishioners often make use of Hauboldt’s funeral home, invited his friend to participate in the auction. The winner had to contend with some last-minute competing bids, but still came out on top.

“Father Stan and I will have a blast,” Hauboldt said.

Will there be any smack talk between them?

“I’m sure there will,” Hauboldt said with a laugh. “People will know who I’m supporting after the first few plays – and I know he will be on the other side.”

As reported yesterday on The Catholic Review’s website, Father DeBoe has been a Ravens season ticket holder since the team began playing in 1996. The Pittsburgh native caught Ravens fever while he was ministering in the Baltimore-Washington area and in residence at St. Lawrence, Jessup.

The auction has been a great morale booster for his Texas parish, Father DeBoe said. He received a total of approximately 15 bids.  

Father DeBoe, who plans to attend Mass at the Catholic Community at Relay on game day, said he also received a call from the Baltimore Ravens.

“They said they were glad to know they had a supporter in Texas,” Father DeBoe said. “It was great that with everything they have to do, they took the time to call. I really appreciated it.”

The priest heard from his bishop, who quipped that Father DeBoe’s departure to Baltimore “was the worst-kept secret getaway” he’d ever seen.

Hauboldt, a Lutheran, said he wanted to help Father DeBoe’s church as a way of giving back to the community. He also supports other Victoria-area churches.

“It’s always good to support local community functions or charities,” he said.


Congrats to Baltimore’s newest cardinal!

Pope Benedict XVI presents the pallium to Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien in 2008 in Rome. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Benedict XVI announced today that Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and pro-grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, will become a cardinal!  Cardinal-designate O’Brien will be elevated at a consistory to be held at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on February 18.

Check out The Catholic Review story here.

Stay with The Catholic Review for more on this breaking story throughout the day!


The Catholic Case Against Rick Santorum?

John Gehring, a former writer for The Catholic Review, has a provocative piece on The Huffington Post: “The Catholic Case Against Rick Santorum.”

Rick Santorum

It’s easy to see why Santorum might appeal to some culturally conservative Catholics and moderate evangelicals who are wary of Democrats but also turned off by the Republican Party’s cozy embrace of economic libertarianism and tireless defense of struggling millionaires. Santorum is more comfortable with communitarian language, has been a strong supporter of foreign aid to impoverished countries and connects with personal stories of his blue-collar upbringing.

But it’s a political delusion to think Rick Santorum is a standard-bearer of authentic Catholic values in politics. In fact, on several issues central to Catholic social teaching — torture, war, immigration, climate change, the widening gap between rich and poor and workers’ rights – Santorum is radically out of step with his faith’s teachings as articulated by Catholic bishops and several popes over the centuries.

Read the rest here.  What do you think?


2011 in review

Since this blog was launched in November of 2010, it has logged more than 35,000 page views.  In 2011 alone, The Narthex had about 29,000 page views.

As a new year gets started, I wanted to thank everyone who has taken the time to read these posts.  I hope you find them interesting and I look forward to doing even more in 2012.  If you have any ideas for blog entries, please share them.  I’m always on the lookout for good stuff!

WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 29,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Bethlehem Brawl: So much for ‘peace on Earth, goodwill toward men’

Clerics brawl with broomsticks at the site where Jesus is believed to have been born. (BBC image)

Two days after the world celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace, things weren’t so peaceful at the Bethlehem church built on what is believed to be the site of Jesus’ nativity.

Brandishing brooms, 100 black-robed Greek Orthodox and Armenian clerics fought one another inside the Basilica of the Nativity after a dispute broke out during the cleaning of the church. Palestinian police broke up the fray.

Tensions have long been high at the 1,700-year-old church, as different Christian denominations continually squabble over the administration of the holy site.

The BBC has the story, along with the sad video here.

 

 


Cardinal McCarrick talks Christmas and politics

Retired Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick recently sat down with David Gregory of Meet the Press to talk Christmas and politics. The cardinal noted that Christmas comes to “remind us that there is a God and this is a God who loves us.”  He also asserted that the more a voter understands about the issues, the more he or she will understand a candidate.

“We have to say,” Cardinal McCarrick said, “‘What is that man teaching – what is that woman teaching? How will it affect me, how will it affect my family, how will it affect my country?'”

Check out the extended interview here.


Name tags go high-tech in Gambrills

Visitor name tag from School of the Incarnation, Gambrills.

Last week, while spending some time at School of the Incarnation in Gambrills for a heart-warming story on homeless outreach, I was amazed by the Anne Arundel County school’s snazzy system for admitting visitors.

As soon as I was buzzed in, I was asked to present my driver’s license – which a receptionist electronically swiped and used to print out a name tag with an image from my license, along with the date and time I checked in and the purpose of my visit.

What I didn’t know, but was later told by Lisa Shipley, principal, was that each time the driver’s licenses of visitors are swiped, a computerized system instantly checks the sex offenders registry to see if any names match. Using a software program called “Raptor,” the system instantaneously notifies the school of potential problems.

“Parents are very happy with it,” Shipley said. “It’s an extra measure of security.”

Should the system identify a sexual offender, an alert is sent to Shipley’s cell phone and other responders. School officials immediately notify the police. The system also has a customizable feature so that if a certain parent does not have custody of his or her child, the school will know if that person is attempting to pick up that student.

Incarnation began using Raptor this year. The software costs between $400-$500 annually, plus expenses for the label printer and labels. In addition to driver’s licenses, it can scan passports and other government identity cards.

Shipley noted that the school has not had any problems with someone coming on campus who should not be there. The system cross checks birth dates and addresses so that those with common names are not misidentified. Photos of sex offenders with the same name as a visitor are shown on the school’s computer screen as another visual aid for confirming a person’s identity. Once a parent or other adult is scanned in the system, he or she does not have to provide the license again since the information is kept on file to be re-scanned with a bar code.

“Our staff uses it to sign in and out,” Shipley said. “It’s nice because we can see who is in our building at any time – staff or visitors.”

Sounds like a pretty good system to me.


Church leaders not sitting on sidelines in MD gay marriage debate

Mary Ellen Russell, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, speaks in support of traditional marriage during a Nov. 30 press conference at First Apostolic Faith Church International in Baltimore. (CR Staff/George P. Matysek Jr.)

There’s no doubt that same-sex marriage is going to be the hot-button issue in Annapolis next year.

Gov. Martin J. O’Malley, a Catholic, has already said he will sponsor  legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland – sparring with Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien over his high-profile attempt to fundamentally alter the definition of marriage.

Gay marriage came close to passing last session, but was ultimately defeated on the last day of the session after the state’s interfaith leaders made a push against the controversial measure.

Religious leaders plan to do even more in the coming 90-day legislative session that begins Jan. 11.

During a press conference last week at the First Apostolic Faith Church International in Baltimore, people of many faiths – Catholics, Protestants, Jews and others – came together to announce the formation of the nonpartisan Maryland Marriage Alliance. They promised they will not sit still as the governor tries to push gay marriage through the General Assembly.

Two speakers struck me with a message that combined tough resolve with respect for all people.

Bishop Angel Nuñez of the Bilingual Christian Church in Baltimore called out the governor by name, noting that the governor’s “pretty words” will not change the fact that marriage is between one man and one woman. Bishop Nuñez went on to address what he believes true tolerance is about.

“Traditional tolerance respects and accepts the individual without necessarily approving of or participating in his or her beliefs and behavior,” he said. “That is what we have done and will continue to do.”

Mary Ellen Russell, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference, echoed that point, noting that no one supports discrimination against homosexuals. The current laws of Maryland, she said, “reflect an appropriate balance between preserving the special role of traditional marriage in the creation and upbringing of our future generations of children, and the granting of rights to other committed couples.”

“It is not discrimination to treat fundamentally different things differently,” Russell said.

You can hear the statements of Bishop Nuñez and Russell below.  Also, Russell will be giving a Theology on Tap presentation tonight at the Greene Turtle in Fells Point regarding same-sex marriage in Maryland.  There’s more information here.

This is just the beginning of what is going to be a very passionate debate over the next several months.  If gay marriage is signed into law, it will surely go to referendum.  What’s your opinion?

Bishop Angel Nuñez:

Mary Ellen Russell:

 

 


Community life inspires ‘miracle man’

Redemptorist Father John Murray walks outside his residence in Ephrata, Pa. (CR/Clare Becker)

Redemptorist Father John Murray is convinced he’s a walking miracle.

After suffering a fall that left him paralyzed from the chest down, the former pastor of St. Mary in Annapolis and St. Wenceslaus in Baltimore began praying for Blessed Francis X. Seelos – a former St. Mary’s pastor – to intercede on his behalf. As noted in this upcoming story in The Catholic Review, Father Murray is now walking on his own and will soon receive his first priestly assignment since the 2010 accident.

 After spending a morning with Father Murray in preparation for the article, I was struck by how the priest was inspired by his fellow Redemptorists. As he underwent rehabilitation at Stella Maris nursing home in Timonium, the priest lived with infirm and elderly members of his religious order and, at 63, was the youngest priest among them at the St. John Neumann Residence – a wing for retired Redemptorists.
 
“You are surrounded by your confreres,” Father  Murray told me. “You get to pray together. You get to eat together. You get to just walk the corridors with them and sit down in our community room – and you get to celebrate Mass.”
 
It was quite different from a former facility in which Father Murray lived after the accident – one in which he could sometimes go a day without seeing another person besides the medical staff, he said.
 
There were 18 Redemptorists living at Stella Maris with Father Murray, 13 of whom spent most of their priesthood in foreign missions.
 
“They were in the Dominican Republic and Brazil eating rice and beans down there with no electricity large parts of the day,” Father Murray said. “To see how they sacrificed and now, at the age of 85 and 90, they are still going strong – it really touched me.”
 
Five Redemptorists died while Father Murray lived at Stella Maris. He watched his brother priests gather in the room of  dying clerics, staying with them and praying with them before and after they died.
 
“It was just so touching,” he remembered.
 
Father Murray noted that the St. John Neumann Residence could not be more perfectly named. St. John Neumann had been a diocesan priest in New York in the 19th century. He became depressed because he was often alone, Father Murray said. The priest joined the Redemptorists because one of its great charisms is community life.
 
“John Neuman realized he needed the support of a community,” Father Murray. “That was one of the things I most learned since my accident – the importance of community living and how community living for Redemptorists brings new life. It certainly brought me life.”
 

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