Dave Brenner recently visited the community of Franciscans at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels in Chicago, where he witnessed something of a "new" model of evangelization- the bold, fearless, and fervent adherence to a spiritual legacy that is revolutionary in its simplicity. Dave explains...
Something isn’t working in the Catholic Church. American Catholics can universally relate to stories of declining class sizes in Catholic schools, combined or shuttered parishes, reduced Mass attendance and all the implications these things bring.
The vivacity of our response has been meek. The result of our response has been deeply disappointing. Despite parish renewal programs, vocation events, and incremental programming, one still senses a purely secular society is our ultimate destination. It seems like we’re grasping at thin air with the hope that it’s our silver bullet. We boldly go forth to add incremental programs of minimum consequence: “If we just had guitar music/shorter sermons/donuts after Mass, people would feel more welcome…” this line of reasoning goes. One gets the impression of being on a slowly sinking ship while the crew rearranges the deck chairs.
This backdrop makes the story of the Franciscans serving at Our Lady of the Angels in Chicago more remarkable. Their work has been highlighted on a previous blog so I’ll just give you the bullet points: In April, this new community of Franciscans is re-opening a mission church in an economically depressed Westside neighborhood that was devastated by a fire 53 years ago. They feed 700 families a month and work with 800 – 900 kids in an after-school program...
Stephanie Baliga knows a thing or two about perseverance. She honed it during her days as an elite college runner, and is now using it to reach a much bigger end. Kerry Trotter talked to this extraordinary woman for today's Word on Fire blog.
The start has always been Stephanie Baliga’s favorite part of a race.
“That underlying anticipation, that build-up in the beginning, “ she said. “Everyone is quiet and focused on starting. It builds and then—bang—it’s released and all the energy goes. I love that.”
The 23-year-old Rockford, Ill.-native competed on the Division 1 level for the University of Illinois Cross Country team, and completed her second Chicago Marathon last month in a jaw-dropping three hours and 43 minutes.
But Baliga has recently surged past the starting line toward a much bigger milestone: becoming a nun. And more, joining an order just a little over a year old.
“We’re extremely new,” she said. “Pretty much as new as we can possibly be.
Baliga — or Sr. Stephanie, as she’s now known — is a novice in the Franciscans of the Eucharist rder, a small community of religious and clergy servicing a tough neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. The church at the center of the mission is Our Lady of the Angels — a building, school and community that was nearly decimated after a devastating fire killed 92 children and three sisters 53 years ago this Thursday...