Sister of Charity lives in Juneau

The Southeast Alaska Catholic
July 22, 2011

By SIster Delia Sizler, SC

It is approaching a year since I moved to Southeast Alaska and I have yet to introduce myself. I am Sister Delia Sizler, SC or S. Dee or just Dee, a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati. The SCs of Cincinnati are direct descendants of the community founded by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland in 1809. I first met the Sisters in high school in Cleveland, Ohio where I was raised with six younger sisters and brothers.

At 19, I left home and college for Cincinnati and entered religious life. After first vows I was missioned to teach elementary school and taught for 11 years in four schools in four different cities. With a new masters degree I ministered as assistant dean of students at the College of Mount St. Joseph. My vocational call has had me doing many things since then, including establishing a shelter for homeless women and children and directing a community based adult basic learning center. Later with Catholic Community Services of Northern Kentucky I was counselor to pastoral ministers. From there I started a counseling office, New Spring Center, where I ministered for 17 years primarily to families and individuals without insurance.

I have always been an avid supporter of conservation and environment protection of our earth home. Another interest has been the development of Associate membership in religious communities. The Sisters of Charity have included Associates for close to 40 years and I have been part of that movement since the beginning. In fact, it was our SC Associates who live here in Juneau who drew me to Alaska. I came with two Sisters and an Associate to visit in May of 2007 and returned again for a second longer visit in 2009 and felt the lure to live here. There is a growing SC Associate community here who kept inviting me.

God works in ways I could never have expected. I found myself closing New Spring Center in Cincinnati, my place of counseling ministry for 17 years, and moving to Cleveland to be in the city where my family lives. That only lasted a year and during that time I cared for my sister who died of brain cancer.

From there I traveled 3000 miles to Juneau, where I now live with Sr. Marie Lucek, OP on Douglas Island.

When someone asks me if I work for the parish I tell them I work for the Church though I am not employed by it. My ministry is at the AWARE shelter, the main shelter for women in abuse and rape emergencies in southeast Alaska. I am also starting Family Pastoral Service where I offer spiritual counseling to those who want this alternative to traditional counseling.

In June I had the opportunity to make anACTS retreat. What a wonderful experience and example of lay Christian service at its best. I am impressed with the dedication and commitment of the Catholic faith community here and I hope to be able to contribute to the growth of this community.

Another sign I belong here—I even love the weather. I hope to visit other southeast towns and get to know more of you. I invite you to learn more about my religious community at srcharitycinti.org. You can also email me at dsizler@gmail.com. It is a gift to be here in Juneau.

In ‘moving ceremony,’ Sudan hands over independence to the South

The Southeast Alaska Catholic
July 22, 2011

By Bronwen Dachs
Catholic News Service

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — The flag of South Sudan was raised as the Sudanese flag was lowered at the July 9 ceremony in Juba to mark the new Republic of South Sudan’s independence.

“It was a graceful assertion of independence, without demeaning Sudan and its president,” said Dan Griffin, adviser on Sudan to the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services. He spoke with Catholic News Service by telephone July 10 from Juba, South Sudan’s capital.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was guest of honor at the July 9 ceremony that marked the culmination of a January independence vote in which nearly 99 percent of the residents voted to secede.

The nine-hour ceremony took place at the mausoleum of the late rebel leader John Garang, who died six months after signing the 2005 peace deal that ended Africa’s longest-running conflict.

“It was a very moving ceremony,” said Steve Hilbert, Africa policy adviser to the U.S. bishops’ Office of International Justice and Peace, noting that “people were crying — for joy and probably also in sorrow for those who didn’t live to see this day happen.”

At least 2 million people were killed in Sudan’s last civil war, fought from 1983 to 2005.

Soldiers and traditional dance troupes paraded, then the speaker of the southern parliament read the independence proclamation, and South Sudan President Salva Kiir took the oath of office.

World leaders at the ceremony included U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague. Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, attended as part of the U.S. presidential delegation.

Bashir called for good neighborly relations and said gains could be secured by maintaining joint economic and trade interests, reported Reuters, the British news agency.

“A lot of people came a long way to be in Juba for this day of independence,” Griffin said, noting that many people walked for days from other parts of South Sudan to join in the capital’s celebrations.

In the town of Nzara, 20 miles from South Sudan’s border with Congo, people gathered in a “peaceful and happy atmosphere” at the new government offices to see the flag raised, said Comboni Sister Giovanna Calabria, an Italian working in the town.

Sister Giovanna, who worked for 13 years in northern Uganda before moving to Nzara nine years ago, joined in the town’s celebrations with three other Comboni sisters who run a school, hospital and AIDS community. The fifth member of their community had to stay at the hospital “in case of emergencies,” she told Catholic News Service in a July 9 telephone interview from Nzara.

The town’s population of between 1,000 and 2,000 people, joined by “many others who came from faraway villages,” gathered into prayer groups the previous night, “asking the Lord for a peaceful new country,” Sister Giovanna said.

“Everyone brought food to share, and the sharing was a symbol of unity and cooperation,” she said, noting that the prayers continued throughout the night.

Bishop John H. Ricard, retired bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., concelebrated a July 10 Thanksgiving Mass in St. Teresa’s Cathedral, Juba.

“There was a magnificent display of unity” at the Mass, attended by more than 1,000 people, said Bishop Ricard, who traveled to Juba to represent the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace at the independence celebrations.

Vincent Bolt, Sudan country representative for the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, the official aid agency of the English and Welsh bishops, said there was “a great feeling of church family solidarity” at the thanksgiving Mass.

The worldwide Catholic community’s prayers for peace in the region “are very much appreciated by the church here,” Bolt said in a July 10 telephone interview from Juba.

Hilbert said there were about 30 people of Sudanese descent on his flight from the United States.

“There were children with U.S. accents coming for the first time” to South Sudan “to be there when the dream of generations was realized,” he said.

Question Corner

The Southeast Alaska Catholic
July 22, 2011

Father Ken Doyle

By Fr. Kenneth Doyle
Catholic News Service

Question: When an individual is being considered for sainthood, I often read about the need for documented miracles. But I’ve never seen an instance when the miracle under review was not one of physical healing. Yet those are not the only type of miracle; there are financial miracles, miracles of reconciliation, miracles of peace, etc.

Does the church ever consider any miracles other than physical cures when determining whether someone should be honored as a saint? (Mount Sinai, N.Y.)

Answer: The word “miracle” comes from the Latin word for “wonder” and means “marvelous to behold.” In common parlance, “miracle” is used broadly, and people often apply the term to natural events, such as the sunrise or birth of a baby, or to scientific developments such as retinal transplants that can restore sight to the blind.

In the church’s use of the word “miracle” in the canonization process, it has a much stricter meaning; it signifies an act brought about by divine intervention that goes beyond all the powers of natural science to explain.

In the 18th century, Pope Benedict XIV laid down strict standards for recognizing a miraculous cure: The original disease must be incapacitating, with a sure and precise diagnosis; the cure, which should be instantaneous and without convalescence, must not result from medical treatment; and recovery must permanently restore normal function.

When considering a reported miracle, the church conducts a lengthy investigation, consulting with scientific and medical experts in order to be able to rule out natural explanations. (At Lourdes, for example, only four healings among the hundreds of “cures” reported passed the church’s rigid scrutiny over the last four decades.)

Commonly, the documented miracles concern physical illnesses — for example, the French nun whose cure from Parkinson’s disease led to the beatification of Pope John Paul II earlier this year.

I am not aware of miracles other than those of physical healing that have been used in the canonization process. I suspect that other developments, such as what you describe — financial recovery or the reconciliation of enemies — though they may certainly be remarkable results produced through intercessory prayer, might be much harder to document.

Physical healings, on the other hand, can readily be weighed by the scientific community to determine the absence of natural causes.

Question: In the history of the Catholic Church, have women ever been ordained to the diaconate? (Albany, N.Y.)

Answer: The history of women deacons in the Roman Catholic Church is a matter of controversy among theologians and church historians.

In the early 1970s, when implementing the Second Vatican Council’s decision to renew the permanent diaconate, Pope Paul VI referred the question of women deacons to the Vatican’s International Theological Commission. It was not until 2002 that this commission issued a report that said that the functions of early women deacons in the church seem not to have been the same as those of today’s male deacons.

Certainly there is testimony to the existence of female deacons through the first millennium of the church’s history, but the controversy focuses on whether those deaconesses received a sacramental ordination through the imposition of hands or were simply commissioned by a blessing for particular ministries — such as catechetics or the care of the sick.

On that point, even texts from early ecumenical councils (Nicaea in 325 A.D. and Chalcedon in 451) would seem to produce different conclusions.

The fairest thing to say is that the possibility of ordaining women deacons in the future remains at this point an open question and depends, in part at least, on what we may still learn about their exact role in the church’s early history.

(Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at askfatherdoyle@gmail.com and 40 Hopewell St., Albany, NY 12208.)

Holy Saturday at St. John by the Sea parish

The Southeast Alaska Catholic
July 22, 2011

By Cathy Bolling
St. John by the Sea parish

The Holy Spirit was quite busy at St. John by the Sea Church in Klawock for this year’s Holy Saturday Vigil. One RCIA candidate was welcomed into the church while several others were baptized.

Stephanie Haseltine’s husband and RCIA sponsor Shawn anoints her shoulder during the blessing of the senses on a Sunday leading up to the Holy Saturday Vigil. In this special blessing, the sign of the cross is first made on the candidate’s forehead, followed by her ears, eyes, lips, heart, shoulders, hands and feet.

Parishioners and guests witnessed the baptism, confirmation and First Eucharist for RCIA Candidate Stephanie Haseltine, who began her RCIA studies at Holy Name Church in Ketchikan. She continued her faith journey at St. John’s after she and husband Shawn, her sponsor, moved to Prince of Wales Island this past winter. In the weeks leading up to the Holy Saturday Vigil parishioners witnessed the rituals of the RCIA process, including signing the book of the elect, presentation of the Creed and the Our Father and the anointing with the oil of catechumens for the blessing of the senses.

At the vigil, Stephanie knelt next to the church’s ceramic baptismal font. As her husband held her, Fr. Perry baptized her with holy water scooped with a clamshell. She was then anointed with the oil of confirmation, sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and was the first to receive First Holy Communion that night.

On May 16, Fr. Perry blessed Stephanie and Shawn’s civil marriage during noon mass.

One-year-old Brooke Sharp is held by her mother, Tracey, as she is baptized by Fr. Kenaston.

Also on Holy Saturday, several others were baptized, including 1-year-old Brooke Sharp and 11-year old Hannah Roush. Tracey Blanc held her daughter Brooke over the baptismal font as godparents Ralph and Edith Mackie and Jessica Lee, grandparents Marie and Chris Blanc, and Uncle Charley Blanc (serving mass) watched on. Ralph and Edith Mackie are also Tracey’s godparents.

Hannah Roush’s father Michael held her over the font as Fr. Perry baptized her.

Each of the newly baptized received a baptismal garment, and a lit candle, signifying the light of Christ always with them.

(Photos by Mike Cleary)

“In union with the whole church…”

The Southeast Alaska Catholic
July 22, 2011

By Father Carl Hawver, OFM

Father Carl Hawver, OFM

I am Fr. Carl Hawver, a Franciscan priest from southeast Indiana, a “rent-a-priest” in service to the Diocese of Juneau and welcomed by Bishop Burns. One of the ways of saying “thank you” to those who welcome me here in the diocese, as well as giving a grateful nod to those benefactors back home whose generosity maintains a traveling padre, is to write about what happens in the venture.

Summer 2011 is my fourteenth visit to our Church in Alaska—10 summers and four Christmases either spent in the Archdiocese of Anchorage or Diocese of Juneau. Having returned from two weeks’ service in Yakutat’s St. Ann Mission, I’m reflecting on a line in our Eucharistic Prayer One, “In union with the whole Church…” The people of Yakutat are realizing the loss of twelve citizens—eight of whom died in fishing related accidents. Ironically all eight wore appropriate life vests. Their deaths resulted from hypothermia—created by intensely cold water from glacial runoff and resulting in shock. Such situations of tragic loss impact families and cultures profoundly. In such circumstances, people of faith come together to pray, mourn, and grieve, asking the God of Life to grant everlasting rest to the departed, and comfort and compassion to those who remain.

In such times as these, our liturgical prayers and Scriptures can help those whose loss is great to find hope in the midst of profound sorrow. Let us join together praying for strength and deep peace for the Church and for the people of Yakutat at this time.