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Across America, National School Choice Week will be observed from Jan. 22 through Jan. 28 with a variety of events highlighting educational options for students.
“Every January, National School Choice Week spotlights the millions of students, parents, teachers, and civic leaders who make education options realities in their own communities and states,” said Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. “With 2017 poised to be a pivotal year for school choice, National School Choice Week will provide an unprecedented chance to celebrate school choice where it exists, and demand it where it does not.”
“We are grateful that Indiana parents have a choice in their children’s educations. All Catholic schools in the Diocese of Evansville participate in the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program,” said Dr. Daryl Hagan, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Evansville. The Choice Scholarshop Program provides vouchers to those families who wish to enroll their children in non-public schools.
National School Choice Week 2017 will easily surpass 2016’s total of 16,745 independently planned events, breaking records once again as the largest celebration of educational opportunity in American history. National School Choice Week 2017 will feature more than 20,450 events across the country, with more being planned and added every day. Please contact your local Catholic school to learn how they will be celebrating School Choice.
The Week’s events are diverse in size and type – from pep rallies featuring the National School Choice Week dance to open houses, parent information sessions, large-scale rallies, roundtable discussions, and more. The goal of National School Choice Week is to shine a positive spotlight on effective education options for children.
Dr. Hagan encourages parents and parishioners to reach out to their elected officials and thank them for supporting school choice in Indiana. Parents interested in learning more about vouchers should contact their local Catholic school.
Photo caption: Principals and administrators gather for a photo promoting National School Choice Week during the Jan. 10 meeting for Catholic schools administrators at the Catholic Center in Evansville. The Message photo by Tim Lilley.
(For news from the Diocese of Evansville, log on to the website of The Message at www.themessageonline.org)
By Andrew Mentock
A senior at Marian High School in Mishawaka was invited to Switzerland last fall to participate in an experiment that few physicists will have the chance to experience during their lifetimes.
James Twaddle, 17, traveled to Geneva to use the legendary particle detectors located at the headquarters of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN. The opportunity surfaced because he was a standout participant in the University of Notre Dame’s summer particle physics program known as QuarkNet.
CERN is perhaps most well known for its involvement in the discovery of the Higgs Boson. “For a Ph.D. physicist to go to Geneva to do research at CERN would be a coup,” said Rebekah Randall, Twaddle’s physics teacher at Marian. “But for a high school student who hasn’t even completed one year of physics to not only visit but to do research there (is) exceptional. Unheard of, perhaps.”
Twaddle traveled to Geneva with his two instructors from QuarkNet, Brian Dolezal and John Taylor, both local high school teachers. The research project they worked on wasn’t necessarily cutting-edge science, but it was visual; and the opportunity to use the equipment at CERN was very informative.
Perhaps the best part of the trip, they said, was the opportunity to be around some of the best physicists in the world and observe them interacting with each other.
“It’s the holy grail of science: the most important experiment on the planet,” said Dolezal, a teacher at Saint Joseph High School in South Bend. “You have thousands of scientists from around the world, and what’s really impressive is that the physicists may be working with someone from a country who does not speak the same language as them.”
Photo caption: An LHC magnet is displayed on the grounds of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, Switzerland. Marian High School senior James Twaddle visited the facility and performed an experiment there last fall.
(For news from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, log on to the website of Today’s Catholic at www.todayscatholicnews.org)
By Marlene A. Zloza
HAMMOND— Extending “a national reach with a local presence,” the National Disaster Response Team from Catholic Charities USA deployed volunteers from across the country to aid flood victims after Hurricane Matthew cut a path of destruction through eastern North Carolina in early October.
Stephanie Miller, parish community outreach coordinator for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Gary, was among those answering the call. “I was actually at a disaster training session Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 in Maryland when the call came that they needed people in North Carolina, so I volunteered; one of my instructors did, too,” said Miller, who joined the national team just last summer after completing six days of case management training with the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
“Jennifer Dyer, the executive director at Catholic Charities (in the Diocese of Gary), has a lot of experience with disaster recovery, and she brought the Indianapolis training to my attention, thinking I might be interested,” explained Miller, a Gary resident and mother of 10-year-old Jaden, who was indeed interested in helping families affected by floods, fires, tornadoes and other natural disasters.
“I trained to be a case manager, same as my job here, but in a disaster area there are different guidelines and different needs, and I was also taught to train supervisory case managers,” Miller added.
In Maryland, Miller completed a variety of practical disaster response courses. “We learned how to muck houses, and about safety measures and the type of safety gear to use, like air masks.”
Once Miller’s two-week mission trip to North Carolina was approved by Dyer, she headed to the Diocese of Raleigh on Nov. 9 to work on a two-person team.
“Responding to a disaster in your own backyard is extraordinarily different than responding in another location,” Dyer said. “We have Catholic Charities agencies in 186 dioceses, and when we put out a call, trained staff from anywhere can volunteer.”
Photo caption: Stephanie Miller, the parish community outreach coordinator at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Gary, works in the Hammond office after returning in late November from serving a two-week stint with the Catholic Charities USA National Disaster Response Team in the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina to help flood victims. (Marlene A. Zloza photo)
(For news from the Diocese of Gary, log on to the website of the Northwest Indiana Catholic at www.nwicatholic.com)
By Jesica E. Hollinger
CARMEL — Does science need religion? Can physics prove the existence of God? Can life scientists be Christian disciples?
In the first session of his adult faith formation series at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish on Jan. 15, Joseph Tumasian explored these questions and more, helping define the relationship between faith, science and reason.
Tumasian — a professor of theology and psychology — addressed a crowded room of more than 40 attendees (a surprise to the organizers who had prepared for half that number).
In his presentation on “Catholic Cosmology and the Big Bang: Understanding the Beginning of Everything,” Tumasian noted that the Catholic Church historically has been one of the greatest contributors to the field of science.
“Epistemology is the theory of knowledge with regard to its methods, validity and scope; the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion,” he said.
Some of the earliest recorded philosophy, he said, dates back to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in his personal writings known as Meditations, which reflect the influence of Stoicism and an encouragement to cultivate a cosmic perspective.
“Throughout history, man has developed different ways of knowing, including philosophy, theology, science, and poetry, Tumasian said. “The role of the Protestant Reformation, Cartesian Solipsism (I think therefore I am, Rene Descartes), and the resurgence of Platonic Dualism (Plato’s Theory of Forms) have all contributed to our ways of knowing.”
The Protestant Reformation brought about the separation of metaphysics and introduced the concept of reductionism, and the theories of Fideism and Scientism, which divided many.
“This is the error of the two ways – believing in faith alone, like those who believe in Fideism, or in facts alone, like those who believe in the theory of Scientism,” Tumasian said.
“Some could argue that the militant group, Isis is a contemporary example of Fideism, whose believers maintain that faith is independent of reason, and that reason and faith are hostile to each other, with faith being superior at arriving at particular truths,” he added
Photo caption: Joseph Tumasian presents the first of his discussion series on “Faith, Science and Reason: Reuniting Old Friends” on Jan. 15 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish.
By Caroline B. Mooney
LAFAYETTE — Eighth-grade students in Tori Hart’s classroom at Central Catholic Junior-Senior High School celebrated the feast of the Epiphany by “chalking” their doorway to invite Christ into their lives.
“My grandparents always chalked their door, but as a kid I didn’t know what it was for,” said Jodi Justak, director of campus ministry at CC. “I read an article about the tradition and thought it was a great idea. I shared it with our teachers and Tori said she wanted to do it in her classroom.”
The “chalking of the doors,” a centuries-old custom, is a house blessing performed on the feast of the Epiphany, which marks the visitation of the three Wise Men to the baby Jesus.
The tradition is to use blessed chalk to write above the home’s entrance: 20 + C + M + B + 17. The letters C, M, B have two meanings. One is the initials of the traditional names of the three magi, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. The letters also stand for the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, meaning: “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross and 2017 is the year.
“When you bless your house, you’re connecting the feast of the Epiphany and encountering Our Lord,” said Father Dominic Petan, pastor of All Saints Parish, Logansport. He explained the tradition to his parishioners and had blessed chalk available for them to use at their homes.
“We are asking for the Lord’s hospitality, saying, ‘Christ we want you to dwell here with us. We know you are always knocking on our hearts and in our lives. Hopefully when we do this blessing, it’s a reminder every day that we are supposed to open our hearts more and more to the Lord.’
“It can become a New Year’s resolution to do this every year,” Father Petan said. “We are inviting the Lord to be part of our year, but also trying to remember how we can make this a better year for him.”
While chalking the door, is it customary to say: “The three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar followed the star of God’s Son who became human more than two thousand years ago. May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen.”
Then offer the following prayer: “Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live or visit here with the gift of your love; and grant that we may manifest your love to each other and to all whose lives we touch. May we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen us in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen,”
Photo caption: Eighth-grade students in teacher Tori Hart’s “10:10” class at Central Catholic Junior-Senior High School participated in the custom of “chalking of the doors” for the feast of the Epiphany. The students used blessed chalk to write above the doorway to their classroom. (Photo by Caroline B. Mooney)
By Brigid Curtis Ayer (For The Catholic Moment)
WESTFIELD — Priests and seminarians of the Lafayette diocese faced off Jan. 2 at the second annual “Cassock Classic” basketball game, held before an energized crowd of nearly 700 at Westfield High School.
For the second year, the seminarians came away with the win; this year’s final score was 44 to 39.
The event was organized by the Frassati Society of Young Adult Catholics.
The society’s goal in hosting the “Cassock Classic” is to highlight the value that young adults have in the Church and the importance of young adult ministry, said Louis Paiz, director for the Frassati Society.
After welcoming spectators to the event, Paiz spoke to the young adults in the audience, saying, ”Your Church desperately needs you. We need your help and your talents.”
He invited young adults to join the Frassati Society or other parish young adult groups. He also encouraged those attending to consider creating a young adult group in their home parish if one doesn’t already exist.
Photo caption: Priests and seminarians of the Lafayette diocese prepare for the tip-off of the second annual “Cassock Classic,” held Jan. 2 before a crowd of nearly 700 at Westfield High School. The seminarians team came away with the win for the second straight year in the event organized by the Frassati Society of Young Adult Catholics. (Photo by Brigid Curtis Ayer)
(For news from the Diocese of Lafayette, log on to the website of The Catholic Moment at www.thecatholicmoment.org)