May 10, 2024

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W ELL D ONE , G OOD AND F AITHFUL S ERVANT MATTHEW 25:23 C ELEBRATING THE LEGACY OF B ISHOP P ETER J UGIS , F OURTH B ISHOP OF C HARLOTTE INTERVIEW: Bishop Peter Jugis reflects on four decades of service to the Diocese of Charlotte 4, 14 SERVING CHRIST AND CONNECTING CATHOLICS IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA May 10, 2024 FUNDED BY THE PARISHIONERS OF THE DIOCESE OF CHARLOTTE THANK YOU! Subscribe today! Call: 704-370-3333 $1M gift turns day center for senior adults at Pennybyrn into reality 6 God’s love A beacon of College seminary leaders break ground for new chapel 5 Celebrating ‘Mama H’ N.C. A&T’s Thea House honors longtime campus minister 10

At a glance

MAY 10, 2024

Volume 33 • NUMBER 15

1123 S. CHURCH ST. CHARLOTTE, N.C. 28203-4003



The Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis Bishop of Charlotte


Contact us 2

Español 14-17

Our Diocese 4-9

Our Faith 3

Our Schools 10-11

Scripture 3, 17

Viewpoints 22-23


Timely tips for blending faith & life

Jesus ascended into heaven, He told His disciples if He didn’t depart, He wouldn’t be able to send the Counselor to help us on our way to where He was going (Jn 16:5-15). Two millennia later, are we still looking up at the sky, or do we remember that we have received the Holy Spirit to help us proclaim the Gospel and live our lives accordingly? Let’s make it easier to remember to call on our Comforter and Advocate with these ideas for observing Pentecost on May 19. Bishop-elect Michael Martin says it’s his favorite feast because “we don’t celebrate the Holy Spirit enough!”


EDITOR: Spencer K. M. Brown


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Diocesan calendar of events EVENTS

CORPUS CHRISTI CELEBRATION : 10:45 a.m. Sunday, June 2, at the AMP Ballantyne, 11115 Upper Ave., Charlotte. Mark your calendars for a day of renewal and rededication to the Eucharist. Mass and Eucharistic procession included. For details, go to or call 704-543-7677.

N.C. RALLY & MARCH FOR LIFE Saturday, May 18, in Raleigh. Organize groups to attend and march under an identifying banner to represent your church, school or community. The event kicks off at 12:45 p.m. at Halifax Mall, located at Halifax Mall, 300 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh. For details, go to www.

CELEBRATE 30 YEARS OF ADORATION AT PENNYBYRN: 10 a.m. Sunday, June 2 all are invited to Pennybyrn retirement community in High Point for a special Mass for the feast


Pope Francis recently paved the way for the canonization of Blessed Elena Guerra (1835-1914), an Italian nun and founder of the Oblates of the Holy Spirit. Guerra is known for developing “a very special devotion to the Holy Spirit” after she was confirmed at 8. As an adult, she wrote many letters to Pope Leo XIII exhorting him to emphasize prayer to the Holy Spirit among the faithful: “Pentecost is not over,” she wrote. “In fact, it is continually going on in every time and in every place, because the Holy Spirit desired to give Himself to all men and all who want Him can always receive Him, so we do not have to envy the apostles and the first believers; we only have to dispose ourselves like them to receive Him well, and He will come to us as He did to them.” The pope agreed, and in 1896 Guerra composed the Holy Spirit Chaplet, which you can pray in the days leading up to Pentecost.


In “Around the Year with the von Trapp Family,” Maria Augusta von Trapp shares what the “Sound of Music” family did to observe Pentecost. Beginning with Ascension Day, they prepared for the feast, discussing the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit each evening. Maria notes how different the discussions were from year to year. On the ninth day, they meditated on the two great hymns “Veni, Sancte Spiritus” and “Veni, Creator Spiritus.” Maria also wrote that many of the old churches throughout the Alps have a hole in the ceiling through which, on Pentecost Sunday, the “Holy Spirit dove” would be let down into the church, bringing the mystery of the day into a visual reality.


Many readers of Archbishop Luis M. Martinez’s “True Devotion to the Holy Spirit” consider it a spiritual classic. Former archbishop of Mexico City, Martinez lived from 1881 to 1956 and was a philosopher, poet, theologian and director of souls. In “True Devotion,” he writes that the Spirit is God’s supreme gift, and our devotion to Him should be profound and encompassing. While relying on Scripture, Martinez illuminates the difference the Spirit can make when He’s given His proper place in your soul. He explains in practical terms how readers should respond to the Spirit, how the Spirit helps them grow in virtue, and the characteristics of true love of the Spirit.

— Annie Ferguson

of Corpus Christi, commemorating 30 years of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration at Pennybyrn. After the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament will be taken in procession through the chapel and around the nearby garden. Father Steve Hoyt, chaplain, will celebrate the Mass and lead the Eucharistic Procession. Children who recently received their first Holy Communion are welcome to join the procession wearing their first Holy Communion attire. For more information visit www.


‘LIFE AFTER LOSS’ GRIEF SUPPORT 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16, in the St. Cecilia Room, St. Leo the Great Church, Winston-Salem. For adults who have lost a spouse, parent, child or close relative. The group meets the first and third Thursdays of the month. For details, call Deacon Carl Brown at 336-207-7502.

Bishop Peter J. Jugis will participate in the following events:

MAY 16 – 10 A.M. Pastoral Planning Meeting with Sacred Heart Church, Salisbury Pastoral Center, Charlotte

MAY 17 – 10 A.M. Finance

Pastoral Center, Charlotte

activities: 3 1 2

Our faith

Pentecost: a celebration of the Holy Spirit

Thisyear the Church celebrates Pentecost on May 19. One of the most important feast days of the year, Pentecost concludes the Easter season and celebrates the establishment of the Church. Here’s what you need to know about the feast day:


Pentecost always occurs 50 days after the Resurrection of Our Lord and 10 days after His Ascension into heaven. Because Easter is a movable feast without a fixed date, and Pentecost depends on the timing of Easter, Pentecost can fall anywhere between May 10 and June 13.

The timing of these feasts is also where Catholics get the concept of the novena – nine days of prayer – because in Acts 1, Mary and the apostles prayed together “continuously” for nine days after the Ascension, leading up to Pentecost. Traditionally, the Church prays the novena to the Holy Spirit in the days before Pentecost.

The name of the day itself is derived from the Greek word “pentecoste,” meaning 50th.

There is a parallel Jewish holiday, Shavu’ot, which falls 50 days after Passover. Shavu’ot is sometimes called the festival of weeks, referring to the seven weeks since Passover.

Originally a harvest feast, Shavu’ot now commemorates the sealing of the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai, when God revealed the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. Every year, the Jewish people renew their acceptance of the gift of the Torah on this feast.


Pentecost is the celebration of the person of the Holy Spirit coming upon the apostles, Mary and the first followers of Jesus who were gathered together in the upper room.

A “strong, driving” wind filled the room where they were gathered, and tongues of fire came to rest on their heads, enabling them to speak in different languages so all could understand them.

The Holy Spirit also gave the apostles the other gifts and fruits necessary to fulfill

Daily Scripture readings

MAY 12-18

Sunday (Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord): Acts 1:1-11, Eph 1:17-23, Mk 16:15-20; Monday: Acts 19:1-8, Jn 16:29-33; Tuesday: Acts 1:15-17, 20-26, Jn 15:9-17; Wednesday: Acts 20:28-38, Jn 17:11b-19; Thursday: Acts 22:30, 23:6-11, Jn 17:20-26; Friday: Acts 25:13b-21, Jn 21:15-19; Saturday: Acts 28:1620, 30-31, Jn 21:20-25

the Great Commission – to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations. It fulfills the New Testament promise from Christ (Luke 24:46-49) that the apostles would be “clothed with power” before they would be sent out to spread the Gospel.

The main event of Pentecost (the strong driving wind and tongues of fire) is recounted in Acts 2:13, and the events immediately following Pentecost (Peter’s preaching and the baptism of thousands) continue through verse 41.


It was right after Pentecost that Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, first preached to Jews and other non-believers, opening the scriptures of the Old Testament to show how the prophet Joel prophesied events and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

He also told people that the Jesus they crucified is the Lord and was raised from the dead, which “cut them to the heart.” When they asked what they should do, Peter exhorted them to repent of their sins and be baptized.

According to the account in Acts, about 3,000 people were baptized following Peter’s preaching.

For this reason, Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church. Peter, the first pope, preaches for the first time and converts thousands of new believers. The

MAY 19-25

Sunday (Pentecost): Acts 2:1-11, 1

Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13, Jn 20:19-23; Monday (Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church): Gn 3:9-15, 20, Jn 19:25-34; Tuesday: Jas 4:1-10, Mk 9:303; Wednesday: Jas 4:13-17, Mk 9:38-40; Thursday: Jas 5:1-6, Mk 9:41-50; Friday: Jas 5:9-12, Mk 10:1-12; Saturday: Jas 5:13-20, Mk 10:13-16

apostles and believers, for the first time, were united by a common language, with a common zeal and purpose to go and preach the Gospel.


Typically, priests wear red vestments on Pentecost – symbolic of the burning fire of God’s love and the tongues of fire that descended on the Apostles.

However, in some parts of the world, Pentecost is also referred to as “WhitSunday,” or White Sunday, referring to the white vestments that are typically worn in Britain and Ireland. The white is symbolic of the dove of the Holy Spirit, and typical of the vestments that catechumens desiring baptism wear on that day.

An Italian Pentecost tradition is to scatter rose leaves from the ceiling of the churches to recall the miracle of the fiery tongues, and so in some places in Italy, Pentecost is sometimes called “Pascha Rosatum” (“Easter roses”).

In France, it is traditional to blow trumpets during Mass to recall the sound of the driving wind of the Holy Spirit.

In Asia, it is typical to have an extra service, called genuflexion, during which long poems and prayers are recited.

In Russia, Mass-goers often carry flowers or green branches during Pentecost services.

— Catholic News Agency


Sunday (The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity): Dt 4:32-34, 39-40, Rom 8:14-17, Mt 28:16-20; Monday: 1 Pt 1:3-9, Mk 10:17-27; Tuesday: 1 Pt 1:10-16, Mk 10:2831; Wednesday: 1 Pt 1:18-25, Mk 10:32-45; Thursday: 1 Pt 2:2-5, 9-12, Mk 10:46-52; Friday (Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary): Zep 3:14-18a, Lk 1:3956; Saturday: Jude 17, 20b-25, Mk 11:27-33

Without Christian hope, a virtuous life seems futile

The world is in great need of hope and patience, Pope Francis said at his weekly general audience.

Those who are patient “are weavers of goodness. They stubbornly desire peace, and even if others are hasty and would like everything straight away, patience is capable of waiting,” he said.

“Even when many around us have succumbed to disillusionment, those who are inspired by hope and are patient are able to get through the darkest of nights,” he said in St. Peter’s Square May 8, the feast of Our Lady of Luján, patroness of Argentina. Before giving his catechesis, the pope prayed a few moments before a small statue of the Our Lady of Luján.

The pope continued his series of talks about vices and virtues by reflecting on the “theological” virtue of hope.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the pope noted, says, “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.”

Life without meaning gives rise to sadness and desperation, he said.

“Many may rebel” by insisting they have “striven to be virtuous, to be prudent, just, strong, temperate,” the pope said. They declare, “I have also been a man or woman of faith. What was the use of my fight if everything ends here?”

“If hope is missing, all the other virtues risk crumbling and ending up as ashes. If no reliable tomorrow, no bright horizon, were to exist, one would only have to conclude that virtue is a futile effort,” the pope said.

Christian hope “is not an obstinacy we want to convince ourselves of, but it is a gift that comes directly from God.” It is a belief in the future “because Christ died and rose again and gave us His spirit.”

“If you believe in the resurrection of Christ, then you know with certainty that no defeat and no death is forever,” he said.

However, the pope said, “hope is a virtue against which we sin often: in our bad nostalgia, in our melancholy, when we think that the happiness of the past is buried forever.”

“We sin against hope when we become despondent over our sins, forgetting that God is merciful and greater than our hearts,” he said, emphasizing that “God forgives everything; God always forgives.”

“The world today is in great need of this Christian virtue” of hope, he said, “just as it needs patience, a virtue that walks in close contact with hope.”

The pope asked people to pray for “the grace of hope along with patience” and to “always look toward that ultimate encounter; always see that the Lord is always near us and that death will never, ever be victorious.”

Pope Francis “Pentecost” by Jean Restout, 1732. The Christian holy day of Pentecost, celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday, commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and other followers of Jesus while they were still in Jerusalem after His Ascension.

Our diocese

‘Remain in Christ’

Bishop Peter Jugis reflects on four decades of service to the Diocese of Charlotte

CHARLOTTE — When Bishop Peter Jugis was 22, he was sent to Rome to study for the priesthood from the Diocese of Charlotte, mostly rural then, covering the western half of North Carolina and so sparsely populated with Catholics it was considered mission territory by the Church.

When he landed at the airport, a bus picked him and his brother seminarians up and drove them on a surprise visit to the Vatican.

“I was just blown away,” he says, recounting how they emerged from narrow streets to get a glimpse of the expansive St. Peter’s Square and its breathtaking basilica. “I’d never been anywhere really. Coming from a tiny mission diocese, back in 1979, all the way to Rome was quite a thing.”

The moment was amplified when young Peter Jugis returned to the square to attend his first Sunday Angelus, with Pope John Paul II bestowing a Sunday blessing from his apartment window high above the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

“Entering the square and surrounded by tens and tens of thousands of people – that was just really strengthening of my faith. It made me step back and say, ‘Wow, the Catholic Church really is big and strong and active. It is united in celebrating Christ and our faith.’”

His takeaway that day – and from Sunday blessings that followed – was that “we can also do that here” in our diocese, too.

For the next 40 years, he would work toward that goal of building up the Church in western North Carolina. So it is gratifying today, he says, on the eve of his retirement at age 67, to survey the stunning growth of Catholicism across the diocese’s 46 counties – particularly when Church attendance is flagging in some other areas of the U.S.

Peter Jugis became Father Jugis in 1983 and Bishop Jugis in 2003.

For the past 20 years, he has led the diocese – administratively and pastorally – making him one of the longest serving bishops in the country. He has grappled with unprecedented growth as the Catholic population has more than doubled to an estimated 530,000.

He has guided and supported 92 parishes and missions, 20 schools and more than 50 ministries. He also launched a college seminary so that, unlike his own college experience, young men from western North Carolina can discern a call to the priesthood here at home. That seminary, St. Joseph College Seminary in Mount Holly, has grown, too – now home to 19 students – and on May 1 broke ground on a $25 million chapel, in part to accommodate more visitors from the community.

During his tenure, Bishop Jugis has called to holy orders 57 priests and 65 deacons – giving him a lasting legacy and one of the accomplishments he values most. (He begs to differ, however, when talking about his successes: “I just don’t think of it all in terms of our success or

what we’ve done,” he says. “It’s what the Lord has done and what He’s asked us to do that is most important.”)

Another indisputable achievement has been the growth and popularity of the annual Eucharistic Congress, which Bishop Jugis established in 2005 and now draws over 10,000 people each fall to Charlotte to celebrate the Eucharist – one of the largest such events nationally.

In the Eucharistic Congress, Bishop Jugis has tried to provide people with the same sense of wonder he experienced back in Rome, where Catholics from the diocese’s small towns and rural areas can feel part of the universal Church in all its devotion and diversity.

“The whole diocese is not a metropolitan area like Charlotte,” said Bishop Jugis, who served a dozen churches across the diocese as a priest before Pope John Paul II – the same pope he’d seen in Rome – appointed him the fourth Bishop of Charlotte.

“At least half of the territory is small parishes, or one parish per county, and these people can feel like a small minority of Catholics in that area,” he said. “And what the Eucharistic Congress can do is really strengthen their faith. It might give them a chance to see everyone together and say, ‘You know, we’re not such a minority after all. We’re not all alone out there in the wilderness, either.’”

Now, facing non-life-threatening health issues, he’ll step aside for Bishop-elect Michael Martin, OFM Conv., who will be installed as the diocese’s fifth bishop in late May. Bishop Jugis will continue to serve as bishop emeritus, not yet sure how his ministry will evolve, but pledging his full support for the new bishop.

In a conversation with the Catholic News Herald, Bishop Jugis reflects on his life and ministry in an interview that has been edited here for brevity:

CNH: What are your plans as you become bishop emeritus?

BISHOP JUGIS: The first priority is to help our bishop-elect, Father Michael Martin, get established in his new responsibilities that he’s taking up very soon and help him prepare for his ordination. After that, I’m sure that the Lord will let me know soon enough what He wants from me at this point in my life. As the saying goes, “If you want to make the Lord laugh, tell Him your plans. And He will tell you His plans.” So, I’m waiting for Him to tell me His plans for me. And especially by my prayers, one of the greatest gifts we can give to one another, I will continue to pray for our diocese.

CNH: You know, more than most, that the

Bishop Peter Jugis sat down May 3 with Catholic News Herald Editor Spencer K.M. Brown to talk about his time as the fourth Bishop of Charlotte and reflect on his past 40 years of service to the Diocese of Charlotte. Visit to learn more about his lasting legacy in the diocese.

A beacon of God’s love

St. Joseph College Seminary leaders break ground for new chapel

MOUNT HOLLY — Shovels tossed red dirt and prayers rose into the evening air May 1 as St. Joseph College Seminary leaders and supporters broke ground for a permanent chapel.

Hundreds of guests gathered on the exact site of the future chapel for the ceremony, held on the Solemnity of St. Joseph the Worker – a special day for the college seminary community. White lines on the ground around them marked the boundaries of the new structure, and a cluster of colorful balloons suspended in the air marked the height of the future chapel’s roof ridge: 61 feet.

The 9,026-square-foot building is the second major construction phase for St. Joseph College Seminary, which now houses 21 men who are discerning the priesthood for the Diocese of Charlotte while earning their degree at nearby Belmont Abbey College.

‘This building is an artisan’s work – it is for you to come here, to gain strength and renewed hope.’
Father Matthew Kauth Rector, St. Joseph College Seminary

Father Matthew Kauth, rector, told the crowd that the seminary itself and the future chapel will serve as a beacon of God’s love in a world that often turns its face away from hope.

“This building is an artisan’s work – it is for you to come here, to gain strength and renewed hope,” Father Kauth said. “There are plenty in the world peddling doom and forecasting utter destruction … we are not buying what they are selling. We are happy indeed. We have a chance in life to do something beautiful for God.”

Prior to the groundbreaking, Father Kauth reflected on the benefits the new chapel will bring to the college seminary and to the growing Charlotte diocese.

“This is the culmination of 10 years of planning and dreaming and praying,” he said. “The chapel on any campus is, of course, the home of the Lord. This chapel will not only enhance the prayer lives of the seminarians, but also enable us to welcome more visitors to the seminary.”

“We currently have about 1,000 visitors a year, and we can’t accommodate all those who want to visit with the current space,” he continued. “This will give Catholics from around the diocese a place to come for renewal, retreats and days of recollection. We want the seminary to be a place that welcomes people and renews their hope.”

The college seminary’s current, smaller chapel was originally designed as a lecture and banquet hall and will be used as such once the new chapel and meeting spaces

are ready.

Besides a chapel that can seat up to 150 people, the project will include offices, a piazza and a welcoming hall designed to accommodate visitors from across the diocese. Fundraising for $22 million to pay for the project was successful, yet Father Kauth noted that they expect the final price tag to be closer to $25 million.

“Due to the generosity of the many donors to this project, we were able to add more spaces for the seminarians and

faithful to come together,” he said. “To fund the whole project, we are making one more push, inviting broader involvement.”

Construction is expected to take at least 18 months. Architectural firm Michael G. Imber Architects of San Antonio, Texas, and Creech & Associates PLLC of Charlotte led the design effort with Father Kauth. Edifice LLC will oversee the construction work, which is not expected to interfere with the college seminary’s daily operations.

A procession kicked off Wednesday’s groundbreaking ceremony, followed by prayers and hymns led by the seminarians.

Father Patrick Winslow, chancellor of the diocese, blessed with holy water the site and everyone gathered.

“With over a half a million Catholics in North Carolina, we have extraordinary growth – truly a blessing,” Father Winslow said.

PHOTOS BY CHRISTINA LEE KNAUSS AND PATRICIA GUILFOYLE A large crowd gathers May 1 to celebrate the groundbreaking for St. Joseph College Seminary’s future chapel. The new chapel will seat 150 people – providing more space for visitors from across the Diocese of Charlotte than the current chapel can accommodate. The 9,026-square-foot building will also feature offices, a piazza and a welcoming hall.

Protecting religious freedom Federal appeals court rules for diocese in schoolteacher case

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal appeals court on May 8 ruled in favor of the Diocese of Charlotte, protecting religious schools’ freedom to hire schoolteachers who will uphold their religious beliefs.

In Billard v. Diocese of Charlotte, a former substitute teacher sued Charlotte Catholic High School and the diocese for not calling him back to work as a substitute teacher after he entered a same-sex union and posted about it on Facebook. That contradicted Catholic teachings about marriage and violated the diocese’s employment policy, disqualifying him to assist the school in fulfilling its mission, the school and diocese argued.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling and reaffirmed the school’s freedom to employ teachers who will uphold the faith.

“This is a victory for people of all faiths who cherish the freedom to pass on their

faith to the next generation,” said Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, a nonprofit law firm specializing in religious liberty, which represents the diocese pro-bono in the case. “The Supreme Court has been crystal clear on this issue: Catholic schools have the freedom to choose teachers who fully support Catholic teaching.”

The Diocese of Charlotte has operated Catholic schools across western North Carolina for more than 50 years. Its 20 schools provide a top-notch education that also helps students grow in the Catholic faith, making the opportunity widely available to students of all backgrounds.

To ensure teachers are helping the diocese fulfill its mission, the diocese asks all of its teachers – Catholic and non-Catholic – to uphold the Catholic faith in word and deed.

Lonnie Billard taught English and drama

at Charlotte Catholic High School for over a decade before retiring and then returning as a substitute teacher. Billard received training in the school’s religious mission and signed a contract agreeing to uphold Church teaching. In 2015, he entered a same-sex union in knowing violation of Church teaching and wrote about it on Facebook, where he was friends with many of the school’s faculty and families. When the school stopped calling him to work as a substitute teacher, he partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union to sue the school and the diocese, seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation.

In its ruling, the Court explained the First Amendment requires civil courts to “stay out” of employment disputes involving ministers. The Court found that Billard was a minister because Charlotte Catholic requires its teachers to “model and promote Catholic

faith and morals.” Billard therefore played a “vital role” in advancing the school’s religious mission – even if he taught secular subjects like English and drama.

“Many of our parents work long hours and make significant sacrifices so their children can attend our schools and receive a faithful Catholic education,” said Assistant Superintendent Allana Ramkissoon. “That’s because we inspire our students not only to harness the lessons and tools they need to thrive, but to cherish their faith as a precious gift from God.”

The court’s decision not only affirms the strong protections Catholic schools in North Carolina enjoy to hire teachers faithful to their missions but in all states covered by the appeals court, including Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and South Carolina.


HIGH POINT — Doug Witcher, a leading businessman and philanthropist in High Point, recently donated $1 million to Pennybyrn retirement community in High Point, exceeding the organization’s capital campaign goal, Pennybyrn directors announced April 30. His gift will make it possible to open an adult day center at Pennybyrn to be named in honor of his parents, Melvin and Ruth Witcher.

“We are profoundly grateful for Doug’s tremendous generosity and commitment to Pennybyrn’s mission,” said Rich Newman, president and CEO of Pennybyrn. “The Melvin and Ruth Witcher Adult Day Center will enable us to expand our outreach and mission of ‘demonstrating God’s love for the lives we touch.’”

The center will feature many of the same amenities that traditional residents can access, including meals, events, activities, salon services, on-site health care and rehab therapies. Construction has begun and will be completed later in 2024.

“The Melvin and Ruth Witcher Adult Day Center will offer caregivers and family members peace of mind knowing they may leave their loved ones temporarily and they will be well cared for, have a great time, and make new

friends,” Witcher said. “The welcoming and supportive environment will benefit the person served and give caregivers time to take care of themselves, be with friends, or run errands, which will be a gift for


Thanks to generous donors, Pennybyrn also recently completed the renovation of McEwen House, where skilled nurses provide memory support. The enhanced

facility now offers a more supportive and engaging environment for residents who have memory-related conditions.

The Poor Servants of the Mother of God, a Catholic congregation of sisters, founded Pennybyrn in 1947. Today, the non-profit organization serves more than 450 senior adult residents.

“We extend our deepest gratitude to Doug and all donors who have contributed to the Beyond the Horizon Capital Campaign,” added Newman. “Together, we are continuing the legacy of care and compassion, originated by the Sisters, that defines Pennybyrn.”

CATHOLIC NEWS HERALD | May 10, 2024 6 Consider joining the over 2 million members of the largest, lay Catholic order in the world by signing up online today at: Knights of Columbus FAITH FAMILY FRATERNITY For a Limited Time – FREE Online Membership –Use Promo Code (BLESSEDMCGIVNEY)  Southern Homes of the Carolinas David Fuller REALTOR / Broker “Working For You is What I Do” 704-530-2632 Philanthropist’s $1M gift turns day center for senior adults into reality Gift
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PHOTO PROVIDED Doug Witcher and his parents, Ruth and Melvin, on their 69th wedding anniversary. — Catholic News Herald

Catholic Charities’ national leader calls for ‘radical generosity’ at Vineyard of Hope

CHARLOTTE — Hundreds of people who attended the annual Catholic Charities Vineyard of Hope event Thursday were challenged to live lives of radical generosity by Kerry Alys Robinson, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA.

Robinson was special guest and featured speaker for the major annual fundraiser event for Catholic Charities Diocese of Charlotte, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

She radiated joy when talking about the work of Catholic Charities in Charlotte and on the national level. “Catholic Charities is not just another NGO (non-governmental organization) – we put faith into action and we are an expression of our Catholic faith to those we serve,” Robinson said. “This agency here in Charlotte is a haven of hope for vulnerable people across 46 counties. All of the clients need help, mercy and compassion, and they know they can find that at Catholic Charities.”

Robinson took the helm of Catholic Charities USA in 2023 as only the second woman and second layperson to lead the relief agency. Through a commitment to giving that started in her teens, Robinson has become known both in the U.S. and overseas as an expert in Church-based leadership and philanthropy. Her 2014 book “Imagining Abundance: Fundraising, Philanthropy and a Spiritual Call to Service” has become a go-to resource for workers in nonprofits and faith-based organizations.

Attending the event was also special for Robinson because she has a family connection to Charlotte.

“I’ve visited Charlotte every year for almost my whole life because my mother’s side of the family is from here,” she said. Robinson recalled a lesson she learned from her grandmother, who lives in the area. “She was always a joyful person, and I asked her once her secret to happiness,” she said. “My grandmother quietly said she tried to start each day with a little awe and enthusiasm, and that’s what I feel being in the presence of so many people who work with Catholic Charities.”

Robinson connected the daily work of Catholic Charities’ staff and volunteers

to Christ’s life of radical generosity. She recalled a conversation she had once with friends and family where people were talking about the way they would want to die. While some might think this was a morbid conversation, she said, in fact it proved to be a transformational, spiritual experience.

The most memorable part of it, she said, was a teenager’s wish “to die saving someone else’s life.”

“That response was the only one that was truly Christ-like, because it reflected His ministry of generosity for others,” she said. Examples of radical generosity were also on display through two awards presented at the event.

The 2024 Volunteer of the Year honor went to Peter Fernandez, who began volunteering for Catholic Charities in 2022 after his wife, Dina Fernandez, was killed by a drunk driver while serving as a volunteer English teacher for the agency’s Refugee Resettlement program.

Peter Fernandez has worked to help ensure Catholic Charities’ weekly food distributions run smoothly and has offered interpretation services for Spanishspeaking clients. He also serves as a mentor in the Refugee Resettlement program and regularly provides transportation for people who cannot attend Mass or make it to the agency’s food pantry.

“I really don’t feel worthy of this honor, and I know there are so many other volunteers who are more deserving,” said Fernandez, whose wife was out for a walk with Afghan refugee Nabilia Rasoul when both were killed in the crash. “This is something I want to do to honor my wife, and to carry on her legacy of helping others – as she always did.”

The Fruit of the Vine Award went to St. Peter Parish’s refugee mentoring ministry, where more than 50 volunteers work with Catholic Charities to help newly arrived refugees in the Charlotte area.

“We are all called to be generous and inspire generosity in others, whether it’s through giving time and attention to others, donating money, or listening to others,” Robinson said. “Every now and then we experience the connection of God’s radical and unalterable love for us, and we can love Him back by showing love to all those He has created.”

PHOTO PROVIDED BY CATHOLIC CHARITIES Kerry Alys Robinson, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, gives the keynote speech at the 2024 Vineyard of Hope fundraising banquet. In a moving talk, Robinson stirred attendees to action, calling on all to show “radical generosity” to the most vulnerable in our communities.

Birthright’s new Charlotte location brings hope to mothers in need

CHARLOTTE — The teenager who showed up in the front room of a house on Monroe Road in mid-April was pregnant, homeless and scared. But as providence would have it, the house had become the headquarters of the Charlotte chapter of Birthright a few months earlier, and hope and help waited inside.

Birthright is the newest crisis pregnancy support service in the Charlotte area. It offers free, confidential support for mothers, including pregnancy tests, personal care items, baby and maternity clothes, and referrals for prenatal care, housing, education and other essential needs.

It also offers a caring atmosphere – exactly what clients like the homeless teen mom need when they are in crisis, said the executive director, Hank Chardos.

“We like to say that we don’t have an office, we have a home,” Chardos said. “I tell the volunteers who work in the office to say a prayer before they come in. That prayer is going to help us be good listeners and provide hope to those who come to us. We offer a nonjudgmental and loving atmosphere that often isn’t available to these clients anywhere else.”

Birthright International is one of the longest-running crisis pregnancy services, tracing its roots to the first Birthright founded in Toronto in 1968 by Louise Summerhill, a mother of seven who wanted to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. Since then, the organization has expanded to more than 250 sites in the U.S., Canada and Africa.

Chardos has decades of experience with the organization. He and his wife, Sally, founded a Birthright in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1980 and ran it for 41 years until the couple decided to move full-time to the Charlotte area to be closer to family. When they learned about the high number of abortions performed annually in Charlotte, Chardos thought a Birthright location might help the problem.

Since opening in December, Birthright has helped 30 moms, two due to give birth at the end of May. Seven office volunteers have received training to answer phones and greet clients when they arrive.

Response from the public has been extremely positive, Chardos said.

“We’ve actually had more people making donations than we’ve had clients,” he said. Donors have given money, maternity and baby clothes and other supplies, and one room of the house is now dedicated to supplies and clothes. Women from St.

Matthew Parish knitted more than three dozen pairs of baby booties to be given to clients. Six parishes have participated in the organization’s signature “Baby Bottle” campaign, filling baby bottles with donations that are then returned to the office.

Chardos said another big source of support is prayer. More than 100 people have signed up to participate in the Birthright prayer line, praying daily for its clients and volunteers.

Chardos said he is proud of the way Birthright uses monetary donations. On average, 97 cents of every dollar donated is spent on Birthright’s work.

One of the biggest challenges has been getting the word about Birthright out to

with seminarians, who sang him a song in thanksgiving for his visit.

— Catholic News Herald

Priest assignment announced

Bishop-elect visits seminaries

CHARLOTTE — Bishop-elect Michael T. Martin, OFM Conv., recently visited with the men from the Diocese of Charlotte who are studying for the priesthood at St. Joseph College Seminary in Mount Holly and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the college seminary, he joined the seminarians for Vespers, conversation and dinner. At Mount St. Mary’s, he met

CHARLOTTE — The Diocese of Charlotte announces that Jesuit Father John Michalowski, parochial vicar at St. Peter Parish in Charlotte, is leaving May 10 for another assignment with his order and the new parochial vicar will be Jesuit Father Paul Brian T. Campbell.

Born in Belfast, Father Campbell joined the Irish Jesuits in 1974. He studied philosophy in Paris, then went to Japan, where he studied Japanese and theology and worked as

people, Chardos said. Five new billboards around the Charlotte region share information about the organization, and efforts are under way to increase Birthright’s social media presence. Support from Catholic parishes has been strong, but Chardos is trying to get support from Protestant churches as well.

Building awareness will help more people like that homeless teen and other mothers and fathers, Chardos said, stressing the fact that fathers can also receive help from the group. He recently was able to help the father of one of his clients’ babies on the path to getting his high school diploma and counseling services.

Services in Spanish are available through a translator, who links with a client via video chat.

“If you say you’re pro-life, you have to be able to provide opportunities for moms in crisis to get help, and the fathers as well if they are in the picture,” Chardos said. “Whenever a client comes to us, that’s a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity to help her and her baby. We tell each mom that we want to go through the pregnancy with them.”

a teacher. After ordination to the priesthood, he spent several months assisting in a parish in Yamaguchi, the town where St. Francis Xavier landed in the 16th century. In 1989, he moved to the U.S. to pursue a doctorate in communications, then taught at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, for many years.

In 2006, after a few years serving as vice president of Loyola Productions in Los Angeles, he was missioned to Loyola Press in Chicago, first as vice president for mission, identity and online community building and then as publisher from 2010 to 2016. From 2016 to 2020 he served as associate pastor at Holy Trinity Parish in Washington, D.C., and since 2020 has been a priest in residence at Loyola Jesuit Center in Morristown, New Jersey. — Catholic News Herald

Caring for Charlotte Area Catholic Families in Their Hour of Need Since 1926 FUNERAL SERVICE, INC. Charlotte 704-334-6421 Pineville 704-544-1412 Mint Hill 704-545-4864 Derita 704-596-3291 Mc In Brief For the latest news 24/7: Campbell
Birthright is the newest crisis pregnancy support service to come to the Charlotte area, offering free, confidential support for women. Hank Chardos, director, gives a tour of the new location on Monroe Road in Charlotte.

Say yes to a closer relationship with Jesus


retreat weekends set for June


CHARLOTTE — The noise, distraction and self-doubt many Christians experience in daily life can be major obstacles in growing one’s faith. Cursillo of Charlotte, part of a decades-long movement within the Catholic Church, invites men and women in the Diocese of Charlotte to take the first step to overcoming these roadblocks by joining a weekend Cursillo retreat this June.

The Men’s Retreat will be held June 6-9, and the Women’s Retreat runs June 27-30. Both will be held at the Catholic Conference Center in Hickory.

Tita Wofford, a parishioner of St. Pius X in Greensboro, went on her first Cursillo retreat in 2008 and has been involved ever since, leading retreats in the diocese for the past 10 years.

Before she joined the movement, she says, she never felt like she was making spiritual progress.

“We’re all trying to become saints, and I thought I was never going to be holy enough. I would start with devotions like the rosary and then I’d fall back into the things of life. I didn’t think I was going to be good enough, but then I went on the weekend and realized how much Christ loves me and how much He loves you,” she says.

“You can’t leave the weekend and not know how much Jesus loves you just the way you are, but He would like us to be closer to Him. When I walked away with that, I felt so empowered, and it just made a huge difference in how I approach things,” she adds.

Cursillo or “Cursillos de Cristiandad”

(“Short courses in Christianity”) is an apostolic movement of the Catholic Church that was founded in Spain after World War II and has since spread worldwide. Cursillo stresses personal spiritual development, and members – called Cursillistas – strive to support each other in living out their Christian faith in their everyday lives. Members participate in weekend retreats

Hundreds gather at annual Diocesan Youth Conference

BLACK MOUNTAIN — Youth across the Diocese of Charlotte joined for prayer, fellowship and fun at the 47th annual Diocesan Youth Conference (DYC) April 26-28 at Ridgecrest Conference Center.

It was the first year at DYC for Marshall Davis, a member of Holy Cross Parish in Kernersville. “I found it to be an amazing experience,” he said. “I learned a lot, and I’m excited to come back. I got to meet a lot of great people, make invaluable friendships, and made memories that will last a long time.” Each year DYC brings together

high school students from around the diocese for a theme-centered weekend of workshops, led by youth and adults, with keynote speakers, entertainment, daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and confession – all providing the opportunity to grow in the Catholic faith. This year’s event welcomed more than 200 attendees from across the diocese. This year’s theme – “Remain in Me,” taken from the Gospel of John 15:4 – echoed the theme of the 2024 Eucharistic Congress that will be held this August.

highlight of my entire life and the hinge on which my life changed direction,” he says. “During the weekend, we heard talks on Catholic teachings, ate, discussed the talks with our new friends at our tables, ate, prayed together, laughed and ate again. But for me, the most important thing I came away with is that I can count on Christ to help me, whenever I call upon Him.”

Grasheim also notes everyone’s experience is different because the Holy Spirit, Whose presence is strong at the retreats, attends to each person according to their needs.

“I’ve been meeting with my Cursillo Group Reunion, a group of Catholic men, almost every week for 26 years now,” he adds. “We support each other on our journeys of faith, pray for each other, and laugh together. They have become my best friends.”

Wofford also says she is moved by the spiritual community Cursillo offers.

“You’re so Christ-focused, you’re in this community, and you’re not distracted by anything else – it’s all about love and prayer and caring for one another and serving one another,” she says. “It’s almost like you were one of the apostles of Christ.”

designed to help them grow closer to Christ, through talks, prayer fellowship, Mass and reconciliation. After the retreat, they meet weekly in “group reunions” to keep their spiritual progress going.

Warren Grasheim had recently converted to the Catholic faith when he went on his first weekend retreat. He credits RCIA with teaching him what Catholics believe and Cursillo with teaching him how to live out the faith.

“The Cursillo weekend was literally the

Learn more and sign up

To obtain an application and connect with a Cursillo member to walk you through the process for attending the upcoming Men’s Retreat June 6-9 or Women’s Retreat June 27-30, visit www. and click “Contact Lay Director.” The Catholic Conference Center is located at 1551 Trinity Lane in Hickory. For more information, inquire with your pastor, who will be able to direct you to a Cursillo parish ambassador.

— Catholic News Herald
PHOTO PROVIDED BY TITA WOFFORD Members of the Cursillo Movement gather at St. Matthew Church in Charlotte for a weekend retreat, called an Encounter, in 2023.

Celebrating ‘Mama H’

N.C. A&T’s Thea House honors longtime campus minister Alberta Hairston



GREENSBORO — The Sister Thea Bowman Campus Ministry at North Carolina A&T State University recently dedicated a memorial plaque honoring the beloved Alberta Hairston –lovingly known as “Mama H” – to celebrate her decades of service as Catholic campus minister at the school and Bennett College.

Alberta Hairston was a member of St. Pius X Parish in Greensboro and was Catholic campus minister from 1994 to 2013 at Thea House, which serves college students at N.C. A&T and nearby Bennett College. She died on Nov. 29, 2023, at 86. Throughout her life as a mother, teacher, mentor and campus minister, she emphasized that to share the love of Christ, we must connect with others.

Numerous friends and students attended the April 20 dedication in person and via Zoom. The day featured a blessing by Father Marcel Amadi, Catholic campus minister for N.C. A&T and priest chaplain at Wake Forest University, along with readings and reflections by Darien Clark, director of campus ministry for the Diocese of Charlotte; Krisan Walker; Dr. Christian Bock Hyeng; and alumnus Jermaine

“We literally adopted each other over 25 years ago,” said Krisan Walker, a dear friend of Hairston’s. “It was so great that her students initiated this, most specifically Jermaine Dennis, who organized and fundraised for this special day.”

Dennis, who graduated from NC A&T in 2006, noted how Hairston’s dedication and passion helped make Thea House what it is now, and how she touched the lives of all who came there.

“Mama H’s impact on the people she encountered was evident by the variety of people that attended both in person and online,” he said. “Mama H did not start Thea House, but she was an integral part in its sustainment and growth. Thank you, Father Marcel, for taking up the torch and allowing this event to take place.”

Hairston’s spiritual and physical mentorship inspired many and prepared them for their roles as leaders in their own lives and careers – as parents, priests, teachers, engineers, educators, veterinarians and more.

“There’s a lot people can do over the breaking of the bread,” Hairston often told her students. She believed firmly in incorporating cooking as a way of building community during her 19 years as Catholic campus minister at Thea House.

“Mama H’s life’s work was a very real pro-life thing,” Walker said. “Even students experiencing unplanned pregnancies found Thea House. Hairston

accompanied them in charity by providing love, weekly meals and spiritual support – all things needed to stay in school and raise a new baby. To know love, you’ve got to meet love.”

Thea House was Mama H’s passion, said Dr. Elimelda Moige Ongeri, former faculty advisor for Thea House.

“She is the reason I got involved with campus ministry,” Ongeri said. “She loved our students and strived to give them a home away from home, a place they could gather for spiritual and physical nourishment.”

After reflections and singing hymns, Dennis and Father Amadi unveiled Mama H’s memorial plaque, now permanently fixed on the brick wall of the entrance to Thea House.

“One of the things I learned from Mama H was how to just keep the house going, making it a home away from home for students,” said Father Amadi. “In an age when there was no social media, she was able to get the students together and keep them going. She would meet them and just bring them in. ‘I’m not just your campus minister, I’m your mother, your grandmother,’ she would tell them. She made them know she was a no-nonsense woman.”

Some people come into our lives as blessings and others come as lessons, Father Amadi noted.

“Mama H was both for the many students who encountered her over the period of 19 years that she was the campus minister at Thea House.”

St. Gabriel, Holy Trinity take top honors at second annual St. Jerome Book Battle

CHARLOTTE — Students from Catholic schools across the Diocese of Charlotte competed in the second annual St. Jerome Book Battle April 25 at the Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools Fine Arts Center in Charlotte. The reading competition is unique to the Diocese of Charlotte and was established by the diocese’s Catholic Schools Office to promote truth, goodness and beauty through reading literature.

The day consisted of two competitions, one for fourth- and fifth-graders and another for middle school students, who have been reading from a set of 15 books each.

After several preliminary quiz bowl-like rounds of 12 questions each, the two teams with the highest scores competed against each other in a final championship round.

St. Gabriel School won the fourthand fifth-grade competition in the championship rounds against St. Ann School. Holy Trinity Middle School won the middle school competition against Our Lady of the Assumption School.

Other Catholic schools in the competition included Our Lady of Grace, Our Lady of Mercy, Sacred Heart, St. Leo, St. Mark, St. Matthew and St. Patrick.

Sponsors of the competition included TAN Books, Good & True Media and Bright Wings: Children’s Books.

Brian and Kevin Gallagher of TAN Books spoke at the event and donated a set of books to the schools of the winning teams. Bright Wings: Children’s Books helped determine the selected books.

— Annie Ferguson

CATHOLIC NEWS HERALD | May 10, 2024 10 Our schools
PHOTOS PROVIDED North Carolina A&T alumni and Catholic Campus Ministry directors gathered April 20 to honor long-time campus minister Alberta Hairston for her decades of service to Thea House. Hairston, affectionately known as “Mama H,” was Thea House’s Campus Minister from 1994 to 2013. Hairston spent her life working with young adults and volunteering for her local parish, St. Pius X in Greensboro, and the Diocese of Charlotte. Hairston

Baccalaureate Masses to be offered for Catholic high school graduates

CHARLOTTE — Graduates of the Class of 2024 at all four Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Charlotte will have the opportunity to attend a baccalaureate Mass before they graduate.

The liturgies will be held in Arden, Charlotte, Huntersville and Kernersville:

n Charlotte Catholic High School will hold its baccalaureate Mass at 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, at St. Matthew Church in south Charlotte. The school will hold its graduation ceremony at 4 p.m. Friday, May 24, at Bojangles’ Coliseum in Charlotte.

n Christ the King High School in Huntersville will hold its baccalaureate Mass at 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, at St.

Mark Church in Huntersville. The school will hold its graduation ceremony at 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 28, at Belk Theater in Charlotte.

n Bishop McGuinness High School in Kernersville will hold its baccalaureate Mass at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 23, at Holy Cross Church in Kernersville. The school will hold its graduation ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday, May 24, at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro.

n Canongate Catholic High School in Arden will hold its baccalaureate Mass and graduation ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 8, at St. Barnabas Church in Arden. — Catholic News Herald

Bishop McGuinness golf team wins conference championship

KERNERSVILLE — One may be the loneliest number, but it has certainly received a lot of attention for its integral role in Bishop McGuinness High School’s 2024 golf season.

On April 25, the Villains not only earned the No. 1 position in the Northwest Piedmont Conference, they did so by just one stroke – 347 to Cornerstone Charter Academy’s 348 – at Grandover Resort in Greensboro.

And if that weren’t enough, just one day earlier junior William Grissom made a hole-inone on the third hole of a nine-hole home match at Pine Knolls Golf Club in Kernersville, winning the match with a one under 35 score.

Coach Kaila Tuccio says she’s never seen a high school player accomplish this rare feat.

“It was really special for William. The team was so excited to congratulate him,” she says. “To me, that was the best part – seeing how excited they were for William, asking him to recap the hole, his thoughts before, during and afterward, what club he used, and how it happened.”

Tuccio credits the team’s success not only with skill on the course but also to the sense of camaraderie on display after Grissom’s hole-in-one.

“They love to support and cheer one another on. Having a strong sense of being a team and what that encompasses really sets them apart,” she says. “At the championship, the boys were cheering each other on as they each finished the 18 holes.”

Freshman Jack-Jack Freeman added two more No. 1 stats to the Bishop McGuinness season. After shooting a remarkable 77, he was the medalist for the conference championship and won the conference’s Player of the Year award. He finished the game with a birdie on the 18th hole. Freeman, Grissom and junior Sam Sherrill made the all-conference team.

“It’s been an incredible first season at Bishop McGuinness and winning Player of the Year was such an honor, but what I really love is being part of this team,” Freeman says. We push each other to be better, and that team golf mentality has been really fun.”

After three rain delays, the team took second place in a tough regional match May 7 in Elkin. Bishop McGuinness, one of 10 teams, shot a 337. Their results qualified them for the state competition to be held May 13-14 at 7 Lakes Golf Club near Pinehurst. Tuccio says she loves coaching this group of young golfers.

“They have great sportsmanship and are respectful on and off the golf course,” she adds. “They always support each other and make it fun.”


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‘Permanezcan en Cristo’

El Obispo Peter Jugis reflexiona sobre cuatro décadas de servicio a la Diócesis de Charlotte


CHARLOTTE — Cuando el Obispo Peter Jugis tenía 22 años, fue enviado a Roma para estudiar para el sacerdocio desde la Diócesis de Charlotte, en su mayoría rural en ese entonces, que cubría la mitad occidental de Carolina del Norte y estaba tan escasamente poblada de católicos que se consideraba territorio de misión. Un autobús lo recogió a él y a sus hermanos seminaristas en el aeropuerto y los llevó a una visita sorpresa al Vaticano, para ver al Papa Juan Pablo II dando una bendición dominical desde la ventana de su apartamento por encima de los fieles reunidos en la Plaza San Pedro. Cuando el autobús se detuvo, el Obispo Jugis recuerda: “Me quedé impresionado”. “Viniendo de un territorio de misión, allá por 1979, y entrando en la plaza y rodeado de decenas y decenas de miles de personas, eso fue realmente un fortalecimiento de mi fe. Me hizo dar un paso atrás y decir: ‘Vaya, la Iglesia Católica es realmente grande, fuerte y activa. Está unida en la celebración de Cristo y de nuestra fe’”. Su conclusión ese día, dice, fue que “también podemos hacer eso aquí” en nuestra diócesis.

Durante los siguientes 40 años trabajaría para lograr esa meta: edificar la Iglesia en el oeste de Carolina del Norte para dar la bienvenida a las miles de personas que eventualmente llegarían aquí. Por lo tanto, es gratificante hoy, dice, en vísperas de su jubilación a los 67 años, observar el impresionante crecimiento del catolicismo en los 46 condados de la diócesis, particularmente cuando la fe está flaqueando en otras áreas del país. Peter Jugis se convirtió en el Padre Jugis en 1983 y en el Obispo Jugis en 2003.

Durante los últimos 20 años, ha dirigido la diócesis, administrativa y pastoralmente, lo que lo convierte en uno de los obispos con más años de servicio en el país, que lidia con un crecimiento sin precedentes a medida que la población católica se ha más que duplicado a un estimado de 530,000 fieles.

Ha guiado y apoyado a 92 parroquias y misiones, 20 escuelas y más de 50 ministerios. También lanzó un seminario universitario para que, a diferencia de su propia experiencia universitaria, los jóvenes como él del oeste de Carolina del Norte puedan discernir un llamado al sacerdocio aquí en casa. Ese seminario, Seminario Universitario San José en Mount Holly, también ha crecido, ahora es hogar de 19 estudiantes, y el 1 de mayo comenzó la construcción de una capilla de $ 25 millones, en parte para acomodar a más visitantes de la comunidad. Durante su mandato, el Obispo Jugis ha llamado al orden sagrado a 57 sacerdotes y 65 diáconos, lo que le ha dado un legado duradero y uno de los logros que más

de que el Señor me hará saber muy pronto lo que Él quiere de mí en este momento de mi vida. Como dice el refrán: “Si quieres hacer reír al Señor, cuéntale tus planes. Y Él te dirá Sus planes”. Así que estoy esperando a que Él me diga Sus planes para mí. Y especialmente en mis oraciones, uno de los mayores dones que podemos darnos unos a otros, continuaré orando por nuestra diócesis.

CNH: Usted sabe, mejor que nadie, que el nuevo obispo tendrá mucho que hacer.

OBISPO JUGIS: Sí, es un trabajo muy grande y tiene muy poco tiempo. Tiene que venir a una nueva diócesis y conocer a las personas y los diferentes ministerios de la diócesis. Luego, tiene que aprender todo el trabajo administrativo. Estar disponible para ayudarlo es mi enfoque, porque también tendremos las ordenaciones de diáconos y sacerdotes justamente después.

CNH: Cuando se convirtió en obispo, ¿fue un período agitado para asumir este nuevo rol?

OBISPO JUGIS: Oh, ciertamente. Ser obispo diocesano es como tener dos trabajos de tiempo completo. Por un lado, está el trabajo de oficina y escritorio, y por otro, las visitas a las parroquias y el ministerio pastoral. Es una gran responsabilidad. Hay mucho que hacer en poco tiempo. Fui nombrado obispo el 1 de agosto de 2003 y realmente no dejé mi parroquia hasta mediados de septiembre. En ese momento, me mudé a la residencia del obispo y comencé mis deberes. Tuve solo un mes y medio para prepararme.

CNH: ¿Qué es lo que más ha disfrutado en su tiempo como sacerdote y obispo?

valora. Sin embargo, no está de acuerdo cuando habla de sus éxitos: “Simplemente no pienso en todo esto en términos de nuestro éxito o de lo que hemos hecho”, dice. “Lo más importante es lo que el Señor ha hecho y lo que Él nos ha pedido que hagamos”.

Otro logro indiscutible ha sido el crecimiento y la popularidad del Congreso Eucarístico anual, que el Obispo Jugis estableció en 2005 y cada año atrae a más de 10.000 personas a Charlotte para celebrar la Eucaristía en uno de los eventos más grandes de este tipo a nivel nacional. En el Congreso Eucarístico, el Obispo Jugis ha tratado de proporcionar a la gente el mismo sentido de asombro que experimentó en Roma, donde los católicos de las pequeñas ciudades y zonas rurales de la diócesis pueden sentirse parte de la Iglesia universal en toda su devoción y diversidad.

“Toda la diócesis no es un área metropolitana como Charlotte”, dijo el Obispo Jugis, quien sirvió en una docena de iglesias en toda la diócesis como sacerdote antes de que el Papa Juan Pablo II, el mismo que había visto en Roma, lo nombrara Cuarto Obispo de Charlotte.

“Al menos la mitad del territorio está compuesto por pequeñas parroquias, o una

parroquia por condado, y estas personas pueden sentirse como una pequeña minoría de católicos en esa área”, dijo. “Y lo que el Congreso Eucarístico puede hacer es realmente fortalecer su fe. Puede darles la oportunidad de ver a todos juntos y decir: “Sabes, no somos una minoría después de todo. Tampoco estamos solos en el desierto”.

Ahora, enfrentando problemas de salud que no ponen en peligro su vida, se hará a un lado para dar paso al Obispo Electo Michael Martin, OFM Conv., quien será instalado como quinto obispo de la diócesis a fines de mayo. El Obispo Jugis continuará sirviendo como obispo emérito, aún no está seguro de cómo evolucionará su ministerio, pero prometió su pleno apoyo al nuevo obispo.

En conversación con el Catholic News Herald, el Obispo Jugis reflexionó sobre su vida y ministerio:

CNH: ¿Cuáles son sus planes al convertirse en obispo emérito?

OBISPO JUGIS: La prioridad es ayudar a nuestro Obispo Electo, el Padre Michael Martin, a establecerse en sus nuevas responsabilidades que asumirá muy pronto y ayudarlo a prepararse para su ordenación. Después de eso, estoy seguro

OBISPO JUGIS: Lo que más he disfrutado durante mi tiempo ha sido estar en las parroquias y con la gente, que es lo que los párrocos ven día tras día. Como obispo, pude hacer eso a una escala mucho mayor, estando allí en las Misas de confirmación, dedicando nuevas iglesias o bendiciendo nuevas instalaciones parroquiales y visitando escuelas. Es un momento de alegría, de mucha alegría, ir a reunirse con la gente en sus parroquias. Y llegas a conocer gente de todas partes. Se convierten en parte de tu gran familia diocesana.

CNH: ¿Cuál considera que es su logro más significativo como obispo?

OBISPO JUGIS: Bueno, no pienso en todo esto en términos de nuestro éxito o de lo que hemos hecho. Lo más importante es lo que el Señor ha hecho y lo que Él nos ha pedido que hagamos. Recuerdo lo que la Madre Teresa dijo cuando alguien le preguntó: “¿Te sientes exitosa?”, a lo que ella respondió: “El Señor no me llamó a tener éxito, me llamó a ser fiel”. Y eso es lo que debemos ser.

Un obispo está aquí para pastorear a su rebaño, para responder a las necesidades de la época y a todos los problemas y desafíos a medida que
10, 2024
El pasado 3 de mayo, el Obispo Peter Jugis se tomó un momento para conversar con el Catholic News Herald sobre sus tiempos como Cuarto Obispo de Charlotte, y reflexionó sobre sus 40 años de servicio a la Diócesis de Charlotte.


CHARLOTTE — Nunca los niños estuvieron tan felices de asistir a Misa. El pasado domingo, bajo un sol radiante y una refrescante brisa, cientos de niños disfrutaron de un merecido homenaje que les brindó la parroquia Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe en Charlotte.

Bajo la inspiración del versículo bíblico, “Dejad que los niños vengan a mi”, tomado del Evangelio de San Mateo 19:14, esta parroquia organizó un festival orientado a reconocer y celebrar la presencia y papel de los niños en la comunidad. El agasajo, que se extendió desde las 9 de la mañana hasta las 2 de la tarde, incluyó la presentación de números musicales, danzas, representaciones, juegos, la venta de deliciosos platillos, golosinas, helados y bebidas, además de la entrega gratuita de palomitas de maíz y algodón de azúcar.

La presentación de la vecindad del Chavo del 8, que se produjo en varias ocasiones a lo largo del festival, acaparó la atención de grandes y chicos que aplaudieron a los niños, jóvenes y adultos que se caracterizaron de El Chavo, Ñoño, la Chilindrina, Kiko, Doña Florinda, Don Ramón y otros queridos personajes de la popular serie mexicana.

El Padre José Gregorio García, vicario parroquial, dijo que la celebración coincide con la cercanía del festejo del Día del Niño que ocurre cada 30 de abril en México, aunque internacionalmente se celebra el 9 de junio y en Estados Unidos el primer domingo de junio.

Celebraron el Día del Niño

La presentación de ‘la vecindad del Chavo del 8’ fue uno de los números más preferidos por grandes y chicos. Abajo a la izquierda, Luz, Emiliano y sus padres, Leonel y María de la Luz, gozaron de un día de sano esparcimiento y atendieron Misa en familia.

“Celebrar la fiesta del niño es reconocer que ellos hacen parte esencial de la familia. En estos momentos de la historia, quizás celebrar el Día del Niño se convierta en algo profético”, dijo. Debido a que muchas familias, explicó, por diferentes razones no quieren tener niños, el festejo de la fecha es de suma importancia. “Es celebrar no solo la alegría del hogar, un componente esencial en los hogares, sino que es celebrar el futuro de la humanidad y con ello el futuro de la Iglesia. Hay que decirles y hacerles sentir que son importantes, que tienen su puesto y que, así como celebramos a papá, a mamá, a los sacerdotes, a los educadores, por qué no celebrarles a ellos”.

Joshua Madrid, el niño que representó a ‘El Chavo’, estaba feliz de realizar esta tarea por segundo año consecutivo. “Mientras crecía siempre estaba mirando al Chavo y Chespirito y tenía su disfraz. Me gusta mucho el fútbol, pero también podría ser actor”, dijo.

Por su parte Gabriel Copado, quien se vistió de ‘Kiko’, dijo que no puede hinchar los cachetes “por que no lo aguanto”,

pero confesó que, aunque no se identifica completamente con el personaje, le gustan ciertas cosas de él, como la cercanía y el cariño a su mamá.

María de la Luz Flores asistió acompañada de su esposo, Leonel Medina,

y sus hijos Luz y Emiliano. Aunque solo lleva dos meses asistiendo a la parroquia, dijo sentirse “muy a gusto y en confianza”. Sus niños, su esposo y ella, señaló, disfrutaron de la fiesta y esperan que se lleve a cabo el próximo año.

15 May 10, 2024 | CATHOLIC NEWS HERALD I


Laicos hispanos participaron en mayor número durante primer trimestre de 2024

CHARLOTTE — El Padre Julio Domínguez, a cargo del Ministerio Hispano de la Diócesis de Charlotte, expresó su alegría por el significativo incremento de participación de los fieles hispanos durante las actividades y retiros organizados por Cuaresma y Semana Santa en el primer trimestre de este año.

Durante el COVID, dijo, “habíamos no perdido a la gente, pero sí aminorado un poco el área de la evangelización”. Después de 2 años de encierro, añadió, se despertó en la gente la necesidad de volver a hacer su vida normal. “Ya no podemos estar encerrados, y entonces se ha visto, no nada más en los retiros de Cuaresma sino en todas las parroquias, esa afluencia de la gente que está volviendo. Un don de Dios que se está viendo, algo muy hermoso”, añadió.

La respuesta se debe también, explicó, al trabajo de los coordinadores diocesanos, a quienes se les pidió animar a las personas, “a todo el mundo, de la necesidad de la formación, pero también de la necesidad de evangelización”.


El P. Domínguez refiere que cuando el Ministerio Hispano empezó a trabajar en conjunto con la Oficina Diocesana de Comunicaciones, y se abrió la página de Nimbus (intranet) y también la sección en español del website diocesano (internet), lo primero que se hizo fue anunciar todo lo que se está haciendo en todas las parroquias, en todas las vicarías.

“Entendiendo el hecho que la gente se mueve fácilmente aquí en Estados Unidos, y que para nosotros los hispanos no es un problema viajar dos o tres horas para asistir a un retiro de parejas o de jóvenes. Al crear diferentes actividades entre todos los coordinadores diocesanos, la gente selecciona las fechas que más le acomoda y el tema que más les gusta. No podemos decir que un retiro se haya quedado sin gente, al contrario, tiene mucha mayor afluencia”, dijo el P. Domínguez.


Respecto a la capacitación del liderazgo, el P. Domínguez refirió que se trabaja muy de cerca con la Oficina de Formación de Fe para que todos los catequistas, casi de

Decenas de retiros


manera obligatoria, ingresen al Instituto Catequético de la Universidad Franciscana, pues considera que, si se está delante de los demás hablando, tenemos que estar capacitados.

De otra parte, dijo que, “los coordinadores y yo estamos identificando a aquellas personas que son potenciales líderes, para que puedan recibir la formación que necesitan”, y en las visitas pastorales que realiza, “me estoy

encontrando con muchos de ellos y veo ese apetito de querer educarse”.


Ya se está a punto de concluir las visitas pastorales a todas las vicarías que conforman la Diócesis de Charlotte, quedando solo pendiente el encuentro con los líderes hispanos de la Vicaría de Gastonia que coordina el Padre José Juya, vicario de la parroquia San Miguel. En cada una de las visitas, el P. Domínguez expone el programa de capacitación que ofrece el Instituto Catequético, así como también presenta el contenido del website diocesano y la valiosa información que presenta. Adicionalmente al website diocesano, donde se publican la mayoría de las actividades de toda la diócesis, el ministerio hispano administra diversos grupos de WhatsApp para difundirlas. Se trata de aprovechar positivamente las redes sociales, pues, dijo, “ahí la comunicación fluye y todos están bien informados”.

También, durante las visitas, recoge aportes y quejas de los fieles, como las referidas a la poca participación de los coordinadores en las parroquias y la pobre o nula apertura de los párrocos de algunas parroquias a la pastoral hispana.

La presencia del Padre Domínguez anima a los fieles hispanos, los respalda y alienta al decirles que, “no todo tiene que venir del párroco, para eso tenemos también el ministerio hispano”, haciéndoles entender “que son la fuerza de la parroquia… y que pueden hacer que las cosas sucedan a través de su participación plena… siendo protagonistas de la evangelización, protagonistas de encuentros”.

El P. Domínguez reconoce que, para nosotros, los hispanos, el punto emocional es muy fuerte y esperamos un compromiso real de nuestros párrocos, “es más que nada decirles aquí estoy para ustedes” y lo que esperamos, “es la sonrisa, el abrazo”, aunque entendemos que algunos pastores, por diferencias culturales, son más reservados.

El Padre Domínguez añadió que espera que nuestro nuevo Obispo Electo Martin, al visitar las parroquias, tenga la oportunidad de encontrarse con muchos, muchos fieles hispanos. “Tenga la seguridad que la oficina del Ministerio Hispano y la comunidad en pleno respaldará y ayudará al mil por ciento las iniciativas que vaya a desarrollar”.

CATHOLIC NEWS HERALD | May 10, 2024 16
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parroquiales y vicariatos, enfocados especialmente para fieles hispanos, se realizaron durante la pasada Cuaresma. En la imagen superior se aprecia al Padre Julio Domínguez en visita pastoral a la Vicaría de Greensboro, siendo recibido en la parroquia Santa María. Abajo, retiro de jóvenes de la Renovación Carismática realizado a mediados de febrero pasado en la Vicaría de Salisbury.

Será tal vez la pregunta que muchos se hacen ahora en Pascua. Nos preparamos durante la Cuaresma, vivimos la Semana Santa, ¿Y ahora qué?

En el Evangelio de San Juan 3:31-36, que se lee el jueves de la segunda semana de Pascua, se nos dicen estas palabras, “el que viene de lo alto está por encima de todos; pero el que viene de la tierra pertenece a la tierra y habla de las cosas de la tierra… El que cree en el Hijo tiene vida eterna. Pero el que es rebelde al Hijo no verá la vida”. Ahora, mis queridos hermanos y hermanas, es el momento de comenzar a buscar las cosas del cielo, “si han sido resucitados con Cristo busquen las cosas de arriba, donde Cristo está sentado a la derecha de Dios”, Colosenses 3:1. Pues, si seguimos hablando solo las cosas de la tierra y pensando solo en lo temporal en nuestras vidas, nos perderemos como muchos se han perdido la buena nueva de

Lecturas diarias

MAYO 5-11

¿Y ahora qué?

Cristo Resucitado. Si seguimos dudando de nuestra identidad como hijos de Dios, ¡porque lo somos!, si seguimos aplicando la misma receta que hasta ahora hemos aplicado a los grandes desafíos de nuestra existencia con los mismos pobres resultados, y por eso muchos se encuentran cansados, frustrados y con muy pocas alegrías, pues entonces la pregunta por sentido común será ¿y ahora qué?

Qué tal si hacemos lo que Pedro hizo cuando sanó al paralítico en Hechos 3:110, cuando, en el nombre de Jesucristo Nazareno, le ordenó que se levantara y caminara. Pedro sí tomó en serio ser hijo de Dios y actuó como hijo al realizar el milagro. Vio a alguien que estaba mal y lo sanó con la plena confianza con la que actúa un hijo cuando se siente realmente amado y respaldado por su Padre.

Qué tal si ahora en Pascua ponemos nuestra confianza en Jesús Resucitado y decimos a todo aquello que nos tiene paralizados a la entrada del templo que no necesitamos ni oro ni plata, pues eso no ha podido ni nunca podrá darnos lo que realmente nuestro ser necesita y desea. Pues somos hijos y tenemos un Reino y tenemos su Gloria y podemos vivir como hijos aquí y ahora, pero debemos querer vivir como hijos en relación con el Padre. Y ese que nos enseña cómo se vive así es

Domingo: Hechos 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48, 1 Juan 4:7-10, Juan 15:9-17; Lunes: Hechos 16:11-15, Juan 15:26-16:4; Martes: Hechos 16:22-34, Juan 16:5-11; Miércoles: Hechos 17:15-16, 22–18:1, Juan 16:12-15; Jueves: Hechos 18:1-8, Juan 16:16-20; Viernes (Memoria de San Juan de Ávila, presbítero y doctor de la Iglesia): Hechos 18:9-18, Juan 16:20-23; Sábado: Hechos 18:23-28, Juan 16:23-28

aquel que ha visto al Padre y lo conoce, y ese se llama Jesús, nuestro hermano que dio su vida por nosotros, y al cual el Padre ha resucitado porque lo ama, y por Él nos ama también a nosotros, y nos ofrece la gracias de ser sus hijos e hijas con los mismos derechos que el resucitado. Pues lo que le dio a Él también nos lo ha dado a nosotros, su Espíritu, ese mismo espíritu que nosotros hemos recibido en nuestro bautismo. Jesús, este hermano nuestro, también nos ha dado a María como madre para que como a Él lo crió como hijo nos crie a nosotros y defienda e interceda como una madre lo sabe hacer ante cualquier poder de este mundo. Qué tal si ahora tú y yo nos atrevemos a entrar con Jesús una relación íntima como

MAYO 12-18

Domingo (Solemnidad de la Ascención del Señor): Hechos 1:1-11, Efesios 1:17-23, Marcos 16:15-20; Lunes (Memoria de Nuestra Señora de Fátima): Hechos 19:1-8, Juan 16:29-33; Martes (Fiesta de San Matías, Apóstol): Hechos 1:15-17, 20-26, Juan 15:9-17; Miércoles: Hechos 20:28-38, Juan 17:1119; Jueves: Hechos 22:30, 23:6-11, Juan 17:20-26; Viernes: Hechos 25:13-21, Juan 21:15-19; Sábado (Memoria de San Juan I, Papa y mártir): Hechos 28:16-20, 30-31, Juan 21:2025


Bishop Michael Martin, OFM Conv.

no hay otra a través de los sacramentos. Y qué tal si traemos a otros, como por ejemplo a tu pareja para que él o ella viva también como hijo/a de Dios. Qué tal si mostramos a nuestros hijos, hermanos, padres, un modo de vida nuevo, el de resucitados, al perdonarles, al decirles sin dudar que les amamos. Qué tal si dejas de quejarte de la vida y por fin comienzas a vivirla a plenitud, la plenitud de los hijos de Dios. Pedro, Pablo, María Magdalena, San Francisco, San Romero, San Vicente de Paúl, decidieron aceptar la invitación de la Resurrección y esto transformó sus vidas y las vidas de muchos de nosotros. Yo sé dónde estás, conozco tus temores, sé de tus heridas, pues yo estuve ahí, de ahí vengo. Pero un día, cuando estaba a la entrada del templo doblado por el temor, la inseguridad y el pecado, pasó por ahí un ser que había decidido creer en el resucitado y me dio lo que tenía, a Jesús el Nazareno. Y ese día, hace muchos, muchos años, me levanté como muchos otros se han levantado y entré al templo, a nuestra querida Santa Madre Iglesia, y comencé a vivir una vida nueva tomado de Jesús y María y comencé a dar Gloria a Dios. Y este me dio a su hijo para hacerme hijo con Él.

EL DIÁCONO EDUARDO BERNAL es coordinador del ministerio hispano de la Vicaría de Charlotte.

MAYO 19-25

Domingo (Domingo de Pentecostés): Hechos 2:1-11, 1 Corintios 12:3b-7, 12-13, Juan 20:19-23; Lunes (Memoria de la Bienaventurada Virgen María, Madre de la Iglesia): Génesis 3:9-15, 20, Juan 19:25-34; Martes: Santiago 4:1-10, Marcos 9:30-37; Miércoles (Memoria de Santa Rita de Casia, religiosa): Santiago 4:13-17, Marcos 9:38-40; Jueves: Santiago 5:1-6, Marcos 9:41-50; Viernes: Santiago 5:9-12, Marcos 10:1-12; Sábado (Memoria de San Beda, San Gregorio y Santa María Magdalena de Pazzi): Santiago 5:13-20, Marcos 10:13-16

to the Diocese of Charlotte and offer him your best wishes with a congratulations message in our upcoming keepsake edition!

Friday, May 24, 2024

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May 10, 2024 | CATHOLIC NEWS HERALD I 17
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- Mensaje de Su Santidad el Papa Francisco para la X Jornada Mundial de Oración y Sensibilización contra la Trata de Personas (8 de febrero de 2024)

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Three new deacons assigned

CHARLOTTE — Bishop Peter Jugis announces the following deacon assignments: n Deacon Kenneth Henry to Immaculate Conception Parish in Hendersonville. Ordained in 2015 for the Diocese of Galveston/Houston, he has focused his ministry on pro-life and end-of-life pastoral care. He and his wife of 55 years, Marilyn, will split their time in North Carolina and Texas. They have five children, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild n Deacon Scott Johnson to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Monroe. A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, Deacon Johnson and his family recently moved to Waxhaw. Ordained for the Diocese of Dallas in 2020, he has served in parish ministry, hospital and homebound ministries and OCIA. He is employed with Bank of America and is pursuing a doctorate in homiletics from St. Louis University. He and his wife Anna-Maria have been married for 20 years, and they have six children and one grandchild.

n Deacon James (Jim) Keaney to St. Gabriel Parish in Charlotte. A Boston native, he attended the U.S. Naval Academy and served

in the U.S. Navy for six years. His career in manufacturing took him to Virginia, where in 2003 he was ordained for the Diocese of Richmond. He then served in the Diocese of Nashville before moving to Charlotte. He has served in youth ministry, marriage formation and support, OCIA and confirmation preparation, faith formation, visiting juvenile detention centers and campus ministry. He and his wife Jennifer have three children.

— Catholic News Herald

Nigerian archbishop visits Charlotte diocese

CHARLOTTE — Archbishop Lucius Iwejuru Ugorji of the Archdiocese of Owerri, Nigeria, made a pastoral visit to the Diocese of Charlotte April 27-29, meeting with local Nigerian Catholics, priests from his diocese, and diocesan leaders. Archbishop Ugorji is the shepherd of more than 670,000 Catholics in Imo state in southwestern Nigeria. He is also president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria.

Archbishop Ugorji met with Bishop Peter Jugis at the Diocesan Pastoral Center and he also met with eight priests of his archdiocese who are serving in the Charlotte diocese.

The Owerri Archdiocese is one of several in Africa that are partnering with the Charlotte diocese to provide priests for growing parishes and to continue building solidarity and missionary ties with the worldwide Church.

During his three-day visit, Archbishop Ugorji also visited St. Philip the Apostle Church in Statesville, where one of his priests, Father Bernard Oleru, is pastor, and he celebrated Masses for the community. He was greeted by about 150 Nigerian Catholics from North Carolina and other states who came to meet with him and talk about their experiences in the U.S.

parish, Catholic school, Catholic ministry, the Diocese of Charlotte, or the diocesan foundation are qualified charities eligible to receive grants from Donor Advised Funds. Your DAF grant can be restricted for offertory, campaigns, programs, or the DSA. For more information contact: Gina Rhodes, or (704) 370-3364.


He credited “the hand of God” for orchestrating all the people and all the efforts that came together to make the college seminary, and this latest milestone, a reality.

The college seminary will help train priests who will then go out to the parishes and minister to the diocese’s growing population, he said, and the new seminary chapel will be an integral part of the seminarians’ formation process.

Donors and their families, clergy and seminary staff beamed as they donned hard hats and took turns tossing shovelfuls of dirt to mark the groundbreaking.

A simple wooden cross stood next to the pile of dirt, made by the seminarians from trees on the property. Making a wooden cross to commemorate each milestone in the college seminary’s development –from the seminary’s groundbreaking in 2018 to its opening in 2020 – has become a tradition for the seminarians.

David and Shari Benore traveled from their home in Greenville, South Carolina, to take part in the event. The couple first

met Father Jason Christian, the college seminary’s academic dean, when they were members of St. John the Baptist Parish in Tryon, where he then served as pastor. From him, they learned about the college seminary and have become devoted supporters. They both said it was “surreal” to see that support lead to them lifting shovels of dirt at the chapel’s beginning.

“We fell in love with the seminary from the beginning and knew we wanted to play a part,” David Benore said. “The chapel is going to be gorgeous.”

Supporter Joe Gigler of Charlotte recalled the day of the college seminary’s groundbreaking, which took place in the midst of Hurricane Florence’s fury passing through the area in 2018.

“It’s overwhelming to be here for this and to think where we have come since the seminary started,” Gigler said. “It’s wonderful to come out here and realize the commitment of everyone involved. The chapel is going to be an incredible space. I originally came from Pittsburgh, and in that area parishes are closing. Here we are building schools, churches and seminaries. I’ve been here for 40 years, and the growth has been amazing. It’s such an exciting time to be a Catholic in this part of North Carolina.”

May 10, 2024 | CATHOLIC NEWS HERALD I 19
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surgen. Ciertamente, una de las mayores bendiciones ha sido ver la manera en que ha crecido la diócesis.

CNH: Como nativo de Charlotte, ha podido ver ese crecimiento de primera mano.

OBISPO JUGIS: Sí, crecí en Charlotte en la década de 1960 y siempre hubo un sentido de una comunidad católica más grande, pero aún así fuimos designados oficialmente como una diócesis de misión. Y ahora, en estos últimos 20 años, vemos como hemos crecido constantemente, y en la pasada Vigilia Pascual, más de mil personas se unieron a la Iglesia Católica solo en nuestra diócesis. Eso habría sido impensable hace 15 años, más aún hace 50 años. Poder servir a esas crecientes necesidades, poder enfrentar esos desafíos a medida que las parroquias crecían y responder a sus necesidades pastorales han sido grandes bendiciones.

CNH: Un hito importante para la diócesis ha sido el establecimiento del Seminario Universitario San José. ¿Cuáles fueron sus esperanzas y objetivos al iniciarlo?

OBISPO JUGIS: El seminario surgió de una de nuestras cuatro prioridades en la diócesis, las que anuncié en 2004 luego de asistir a las reuniones de los obispos de Estados Unidos. Ellos tenían la práctica de determinar cuáles serían sus prioridades a nivel nacional. Y entonces dije, estamos en la Iglesia en Estados Unidos, así que también debemos aprovechar eso, especialmente para alentar las vocaciones al sacerdocio.

CNH: Así que vio la necesidad.

OBISPO JUGIS: Sí, y recordé mi propio llamado al sacerdocio en ese momento.

Cuando me acerqué a mi director de vocaciones en el pasado para preguntarle sobre el sacerdocio, yo estaba en la universidad en ese momento. Le dije al director de vocaciones que sentía que el Señor me estaba llamando al sacerdocio. Realmente no había muchos recursos disponibles en ese momento en el camino de la formación para alguien tan joven. Me dijeron: ‘Bueno, continúa en el programa en el que estás en UNC-Charlotte y empieza a llenar tus horas de crédito educativo con cursos de filosofía’. Hazlo y luego veremos si todavía sientes que eso es a lo que el Señor te está llamando.

Mi primera experiencia en el seminario fue en el Pontificio Colegio Norteamericano en Roma. Antes de eso, me reuní con mi director espiritual, mi párroco, para formarme y aprender a rezar la Liturgia de las Horas y cómo servir en Misa. Después de que me convertí en obispo, comenzamos a descubrir, respondiendo a las necesidades de los tiempos, que había cada vez más jóvenes en su adolescencia tardía que se acercaban a la diócesis y a sus pastores y se sentían llamados al sacerdocio o a la vida consagrada.

No me pareció correcto decir: ‘Bueno, vuelve en dos o tres años’, porque estaban hambrientos de formación, al igual que yo.

El Padre Christopher Gober, director de vocaciones, estaba viendo lo mismo, pero no teníamos nada disponible para estos jóvenes hasta después de que terminaran la universidad.

Le pedí al Padre Matthew Kauth que estudiara el tema, visitara otros seminarios y averiguara qué necesitábamos hacer para comenzar nuestro propio seminario. Tuvimos una oportunidad perfecta aquí en el sentido de que los jóvenes, si comenzaban en sus primeros años universitarios, podían obtener su título

de Belmont Abbey College durante su formación.

Poco a poco surgió la idea para responder a lo que sentíamos que el Señor nos estaba diciendo: ‘Estoy llamando a los hombres al sacerdocio, ¿qué van a hacer al respecto, van a ayudarlos a responder y discernir su camino a través de este llamado al sacerdocio?’

CNH: Otra de sus prioridades en 2004 fue aumentar la devoción en la Eucaristía. ¿Cree que el Congreso Eucarístico anual ha ayudado a lograrlo?

OBISPO JUGIS: Oh, sí, ciertamente. En ese momento, el Papa Juan Pablo II había convocado a un ‘Año de la Eucaristía’ para la Iglesia universal en 2004-2005. Quería traer eso aquí. Me acerqué al Consejo Presbiteral con la idea de un Congreso Eucarístico y pregunté qué podíamos hacer para celebrar el ‘Año de la Eucaristía’ aquí. El Padre Roger Arnsparger estaba en el consejo, se acercó a mí y me dijo que podría ayudar con la idea de organizar un Congreso Eucarístico.

Creo que verdaderamente ha servido para profundizar la relación de las personas con Jesús, especialmente con la forma en que Él está presente en la Eucaristía. Hemos visto durante los últimos 19 años que han surgido más capillas de Adoración Eucarística en toda la diócesis. Ha habido un aumento en la devoción y el amor por el Señor, lo cual creo que es grandioso. Estamos aquí para servir al Señor, para servir a Jesús, y Él está siempre presente con nosotros, y no podemos descuidar la forma más especial en que Él está presente: en la Eucaristía.

CNH: ¿Cómo fue el primer Congreso Eucarístico?

OBISPO JUGIS: Fue nuestro primer intento de reunir a toda la diócesis, y pensamos: “Bueno, tendremos suerte si conseguimos que asistan un par de cientos de personas”. Reservamos solo una pequeña habitación en el Centro de Convenciones de Charlotte. Y cuando me dijeron que se habían presentado más de 3.500 personas, me sorprendió. Lo vi como una señal de que tal vez el Señor nos está diciendo que la gente está hambrienta de algo como esto, de reunirse y celebrar su fe católica. Luego lo intentamos nuevamente al año siguiente, y ha seguido aumentando cada año, convirtiéndose en algo que la gente realmente quiere y apoya.

Cuando me enviaron a Roma a estudiar para el sacerdocio y asistí a mi primer Ángelus dominical con el Papa, rodeado de decenas de miles de personas, eso realmente fortaleció mi fe. Me hizo dar un paso atrás y decir: “Vaya, esta Iglesia es realmente grande, fuerte y activa, está

unida en la celebración de Cristo y nuestra fe”. Y pensé, también podemos hacerlo aquí.

El Congreso Eucarístico fortalece la fe de las personas. Ahora tenemos más de 530.000 católicos en la Diócesis de Charlotte y más de 1.4 mil millones de católicos en el mundo. Escuchamos eso y es solo un número. Pero cuando llegamos a experimentar esos números aquí, reuniéndonos y viendo a todas esas personas, fortalece nuestra fe y nos damos cuenta: “No estamos solos. Somos parte de una gran familia católica”.

CNH: ¿Ha llevado con usted ese sentimiento de una gran familia católica para llegar a comunidades y culturas que de otro modo se sentirían excluidas?

OBISPO JUGIS: Definitivamente. Todos somos hermanos y hermanas católicos juntos, independientemente de nuestras nacionalidades u orígenes. Incluso, cuando era un joven estudiante universitario y músico en la Misa tocando el órgano en la parroquia San Vicente de Paúl, se inició una Misa en español y me ofrecí como voluntario para tocar porque podía tocar la música y leer el idioma. Además, mi familia siempre fue abierta y hospitalaria con todos, independientemente de su nacionalidad u origen. Esa noción de estar abiertos a todas las personas se enfatizó cuando fui a Roma, donde las personas de todo el mundo se reunían en un solo lugar, unidas en nuestra fe católica.

Eso es lo que es el catolicismo. Es acogedor para todas las personas. He escuchado a un sacerdote describir la fe católica diciendo: “Bueno, aquí viene todo el mundo”. Todos somos católicos, todos profesamos el mismo credo. Esa es la belleza de la Iglesia Católica: la unidad y la universalidad, la misma Misa, la misma liturgia, la misma fe.

CNH: Cuando usted era un joven sacerdote, la población hispana estaba creciendo en el oeste de Carolina del Norte. ¿Cómo se involucró en ese ministerio?

OBISPO JUGIS: Me ofrecí de inmediato como voluntario para celebrar Misas para los trabajadores migrantes, viajando a East Bend y al norte, en el Triad y Boonville, a centros comunitarios u otros lugares los domingos. Cada vez más gente se presentaba en ese entonces, y las multitudes a veces se desbordaban. Estos hombres y mujeres habían dejado sus hogares en México para trabajar aquí en los campos de tabaco o granjas desde la primavera hasta el otoño. Servirles era muy importante. Con tantas personas de muchas culturas diferentes, estoy muy feliz de ver la forma en que nuestra diócesis ha crecido. Es la obra del Espíritu Santo presente en todas partes.

Please pray for the following priests who died during the month of May:

Rev. Ramon Berg – 2003

Rev. Henri Blanc – 1972

Rev. Anthony E. Cahill, OSB – 1985

Rev. Hugh Hagerty, OSB – 1979

Rev. Edmund Kirsch – 2001

Rev. Michael T. Kottar – 2021

Rev. Francis J. McCourt – 1982

Rev. William McShea – 1973

Rev. Matthew McSorley, OSB – 2012

Rev. James J. Noonan – 1992

Rev. Msgr. Michael O’Keefe – 1994

Rev. Edward C. Smith – 1983

Rev. James A. Stuber – 1985

CATHOLIC NEWS HERALD | May 10, 2024 20

new bishop will have a lot to do.

BISHOP JUGIS: Yes, it’s a very big job, and he has a very short amount of time. He has to come to a new diocese and get to know major people and the different ministries around the diocese. Then he has to learn all of the administrative work. To be available to help him is my focus, because we’ll also have the deacons’ and priests’ ordinations right after that, as well.

CNH: When you became bishop, was it a hectic period taking on this new role?

BISHOP JUGIS: Oh, certainly. Being a diocesan bishop is like two full-time jobs. There’s the office and desk work on the one hand, and then the parish visits and pastoral ministry on the other. It’s a huge responsibility to undertake. There’s a lot to do in a short amount of time. I was named bishop on Aug. 1, 2003, and really didn’t leave my parish until mid-September. At that point, I moved into the bishop’s residence and began my duties. I had only a month and a half to prepare.

CNH: What have you most enjoyed in your time as a priest and bishop?

BISHOP JUGIS: What I’ve most enjoyed during my time really has been being in the parishes and with the people – which is what parish priests see day in and day out. As a bishop, I was able to do that on a much larger scale, being there for confirmation Masses, dedicating new churches, or blessing new parish facilities and visiting schools.

It is just a joyful, joyful time going to meet with people in their parishes. And you get to know people all over. They become part of your larger diocesan family.

CNH: What do you see as your most meaningful accomplishment as bishop?

BISHOP JUGIS: Well, I just don’t think of it all in terms of our success or what we’ve done. It’s what the Lord has done and what He’s asked us to do that is most important. I remember what Mother Teresa responded when someone asked her, “Do you feel successful?” to which she answered, “The Lord didn’t call me to be successful, He called me to be faithful.” And that’s what we must be.

A bishop is here to shepherd his flock, to respond to the needs of the time and to all the issues and challenges as they arise. Certainly one of the greatest blessings has been to see how the diocese has grown.

CNH: As a Charlotte native, you’ve been able to see that growth firsthand.

BISHOP JUGIS: Yes, I grew up in Charlotte in the 1960s and there was always a sense of a greater Catholic community, but still we were officially designated as a mission diocese. And now, over these past 20 years, to see how we’ve consistently grown – and at this past Easter Vigil, over 1,000 people joined the Catholic Church in our diocese alone. That would have been unthinkable 15 years ago, even more so 50 years ago. To be able to serve those growing needs, to be able to meet those challenges as parishes are growing, and to respond to their pastoral needs, those have been great blessings.

CNH: One major milestone for the diocese has been the establishment of St. Joseph College Seminary. What were your hopes and goals in starting it?

BISHOP JUGIS: The seminary emerged from one of our four priorities in the diocese that I announced in 2004. Those came from attending the U.S. bishops’ meetings; they had a practice of determining what their priorities would be, nationally speaking. And so, I said, we’re in the Church in the U.S., so we should also draw on that, especially in encouraging vocations to the priesthood.

CNH: So you saw the need.

BISHOP JUGIS: Yes, and I recalled my own call to the priesthood at that time. When I approached my vocations director back in the day to inquire about the priesthood, I was in college at that point. I told the vocations director then that I felt the Lord was calling me to the priesthood. There really wasn’t much available at that point in the way of formation for someone that young. He said, “Well, continue in the program where you are at UNC-Charlotte and start to fill up your credit hours with philosophy. Get that done and then we’ll see if you still feel that’s what the Lord is calling you to.”

My first experience of seminary was at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. Before that, I just met with my spiritual director, my parish priest, as far as forming me and teaching me how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and how to serve at Mass. After I became bishop, we began to discover, in responding to the needs of the times, that there were more and more young people in their late teens who were approaching the diocese and their pastors about feeling called to the priesthood or consecrated life.

I didn’t feel it right to say, ‘Well, come back in two or three years,’ because they were hungry for formation, much like I was. Father Christopher Gober, vocations director, was seeing the same thing, but we didn’t have anything available for these young men until after they finished college.

I asked Father Matthew Kauth to study the issue, visit other seminaries and find out what we needed to do to start our own seminary. We had a perfect opportunity here in that the young men, if they began in their early college years, could earn their degree from Belmont Abbey College during their formation.

It gradually emerged to respond to what we felt the Lord was telling us: “I am calling men to the priesthood. What are you going to do about it? Are you going to help them respond and discern their way through this call to the priesthood?”

CNH: One of your other priorities in 2004 was to increase devotion to the Eucharist. Do you feel the annual Eucharistic Congress has helped accomplish that?

BISHOP JUGIS: Oh, yes, certainly. At the time, Pope John Paul II had called for a “Year of the Eucharist” for the universal Church in 2004-2005. I wanted to bring that here. I approached the Presbyteral Council with the idea for a Eucharistic Congress and asked what we could do to celebrate the “Year of the Eucharist” here. Father Roger Arnsparger was on the council, and he came to me and said he would be able to help with the idea of hosting a Eucharistic Congress. I believe it has truly served to deepen people’s relationship with Jesus, most especially with how He is present in the Eucharist. We’ve seen during the last 19 years that more Eucharistic Adoration chapels have sprung up around the diocese. There has been an increase in devotion and

a love for the Lord, which I think is great. We’re here to serve the Lord, to serve Jesus, and He is present with us always, and we can’t neglect the most special way He is present: in the Eucharist.

CNH: What was the very first Eucharistic Congress like?

BISHOP JUGIS: It was our first attempt to bring the whole diocese together, and we thought, “Well, we’ll be lucky if we get a couple hundred people to attend.” We reserved just one small room at the Charlotte Convention Center. And when I was told over 3,500 people showed up, I was shocked. I saw that as a sign that maybe the Lord is telling us that people are hungering for something like this, to come together and celebrate their Catholic faith. Then we tried it again the next year, and it has continued to increase each year, growing into something that people really want and support.

When I was sent to Rome to study for the priesthood and attended my first Sunday

Catholic brothers and sisters together, regardless of our nationalities or backgrounds. Even as a young college student and a musician at Mass playing the organ at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, a Spanish Mass was started, and I volunteered to play because I could play the music and read the language.

Also, my family was always open and hospitable to everyone, regardless of nationality or background. That notion of being open to all people was emphasized when I went to Rome, where people from all over the world came together in one place, united in our Catholic faith.

That’s what Catholicism is. It is welcoming to all people. I’ve heard one priest describe the Catholic faith by saying, “Well, here comes everybody.” We’re all Catholic, we’re all professing the same creed. That’s the beauty of the Catholic Church – the unity and universality, the same Mass, the same liturgy, the same faith.

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The ones in the back of the church

When you are a parent, you clock many hours in the back of churches.

Pacing with fussy babies. Corralling rambunctious toddlers. Calming down restless children.

But the hidden beauty found at the back of the church? You get close to the ones Jesus loves.

Jesus loves all of us, of course. Make no mistake about the wild love which God lavishes upon every human being – each unrepeatable sacred soul, each “imago dei” (“image of God”) that bears the imprint of our Creator, each beloved child loved by the Father.

But when you read the Gospels, you can’t help but realize how Jesus has a particular affinity for those left on the sidelines, the margins and the back of the crowd. Sinners, prostitutes, widows, orphans, children, the poor, the sick – He draws each outsider close and draws them out of themselves, embracing them into the abundant love and mercy of God.

Parishes often have a practice of bringing the Eucharist first to those who cannot come forward to receive. This simple act makes manifest Christ’s words that “the last will be first and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16). Surely the Good Shepherd who leaves behind the 99 to seek out the one lost sheep would not hesitate to walk to the back of church and welcome anyone who felt uncertain if they belonged.

Once I attended a workout class where the teacher would welcome late-comers with a smile. “I always figure the last people here are the ones who need it most,” she’d remind us, making room for everyone. Couldn’t our churches strive to do the same, since we are the hands and feet of Christ here on earth?

As my children have grown, I have been blessed with a few remarkable friends who have taught me what it means to welcome the ones in the back. They cheer for the teammate who needs extra encouragement, invite the classmate who gets overlooked for birthday party invitations, and strike up conversations with new faces at church or school. In ordinary ways, they model Christ’s inclusive love, seeking out the sidelined first.

St. Paul reminds us of the essential welcome that is demanded of Christians: “We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves...welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:1-2, 5-7).

Whenever we get the chance to welcome another in the name of Jesus, we widen our embrace of the people Jesus loves. Even and especially the ones in the back of the church.

LAURA KELLY FANUCCI is an author and founder of Mothering Spirit, a website on parenting and spirituality.

Protecting God’s Children

We proclaim Christ to the world around us by our efforts to provide a safe environment for all people, especially the young and the vulnerable.

The Catholic Church is absolutely committed to the safety of children. Together we can make a Promise to Protect and a Pledge to Heal.

Suspect sexual abuse or misconduct?

If you have information about possible sexual abuse or misconduct by any clergy, employee or volunteer of the Diocese of Charlotte, report concerns safely, securely and anonymously 24/7 over the phone using the diocese’s new hotline, 1-888-630-5929, or online:

Please note: If you suspect a child is in danger, please contact 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement agency.

Safe Environment training

Every Church worker must go through abuse prevention and education training. Find more information about the Diocese of Charlotte’s Safe Environment program, sign up for Protecting God’s Children training and more: Go to and click on “Safe Environment”

For more information or questions, please contact the diocese’s Safe Environment Office: or 704-370-3222

April Parker

Take joy in the cleansing mystery of baptism

Catholic churches across the diocese brought in many new Catholics during the Easter season. Attending the Easter Vigil at my own church, I enjoyed seeing the excited smiles of each new Christian. It made me wish I could go back and relive my own baptism, to grasp the significance anew, to savor the mystery.

The New Testament tells us that in baptism we are saved, buried in Christ, incorporated into His Body, washed of our sins, regenerated and cleansed. If you feel

‘By staying close to Christ, we not only protect our baptism, we share in His divine nature.’

a bit overwhelmed by this statement, don’t worry. Many saints and scholars of the law also have found baptism quite hard to understand. Nicodemus and St. Cyprian of Carthage, for example, both questioned what regeneration and being buried with Christ actually mean.

St. Barnabas wrote, “Blessed are they while placing their trust in the cross, have gone down into the water. … This means that we descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear of God and trust in Jesus in our spirit.”


In writing about his own baptism, St. Cyprian of Carthage said that he would lie awake wondering how a man could be born again or be able to put off what he had previously been. “But after that, by the help of the water of new birth, the stain of former years was washed away, and a light, a light from above serene and pure was infused into my reconciled heart, after that, by the agency of the spirit breathed from heaven, a second birth had restored me to a new man.”

Just as Cyprian spoke of perceiving a light from above, St. Clement of Alexandria wrote: “Being baptized, we are illuminated; illuminated, we become sons; being made sons, we are made perfect; being made perfect, we are made immortal.”

Think of all the foreshadowing of baptism recorded throughout the Bible. When the Israelite people left their enslaved lives in Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, this was a type of baptism. They

went with Moses down into the place where the water had been and rose again, a free people. A new generation crossed the waters of the Jordan, following Joshua to enter the promised land. Think of Jonah, who after three days in the belly of the whale (a prefigurement of Christ’s death and resurrection), emerged ready to do God’s will in Nineveh. Reflect on Naaman, the leper who dipped seven times in the waters of the Jordan to cleanse his leprosy, a symbol of sin, and came out with skin white as snow, as of a baby, thus being renewed.

What a joy to be cleansed of original sin and made new. Even if our hearts cannot fully encompass this mystery, we must bolster our hearts with faith to know we are truly new people after baptism. Although cleansed through baptism, we must remain on guard. We are still the Church Militant, living in this veiled valley of sin. Even though we are cleansed of our past iniquity and dead to sin in Christ, we are often pulled toward sin. Therefore, St. Ignatius of Antioch advises us, “Let your baptism endure as your arms, your faith as your helmet, your love as your spear, your patience as your complete panoply.”

By staying close to Christ, we not only protect our baptism, we share in His divine nature. Christ took our humanity to heaven and opened the doors of heaven to us. So as Christ shared in our humanity, we too begin to share in His divinity, even here on earth.


Baptism is a necessity for all Christians. Jesus tells Nicodemus, as echoed by the saints and fathers of the Church, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6).

Baptism is for everyone, Jew or Gentile, young or old. There is one baptism, but it is unique to each of us. A newborn needs only original sin washed away, but a man of 90 years will need original sin plus all other sins accrued in his life to be cleansed. St. Gregory reminds us that each baptism is unique: “purification of the sins of each is individual, and a complete cleansing of all the bruises and stains of each.”

Great joy comes with knowing that God loves each of us in our own unique way and that – thanks to Christ’s death and resurrection – sin no longer has a death grip on us. We now are alive with God in Christ Jesus. Let us live our lives for Christ and rejoice in His resurrection to new life, a life we share.

CATHOLIC NEWS HERALD | May 10, 2024 22
APRIL PARKER is a teacher and parishioner at St. Pius X Parish in Greensboro.
Sister Hosea Rupprecht, FSP

Pope Francis calls for wisdom in the face of AI

As artificial intelligence becomes more prevalent, it is worth reflecting on the words of Pope Francis in his message for World Communications Day. The pope addressed how much this new intelligence can offer to humanity, but also considered its downsides.

Celebrated each year on the Sunday before Pentecost, World Communications Day is a time when the Church calls her sons and daughters to reflect on various aspects of how social communications and corresponding technologies influence our lives through the Holy Father’s annual message.

Pope Francis already shared some insights on artificial intelligence in his 2024 World Day of Peace message on Jan.

‘Perhaps an antidote to the temptation to abuse artificial intelligence is to embrace our vulnerability as humans: ... to surrender to the fact that
is God and we are not.’

1, and he continues the theme for World Communications Day, calling for “wisdom of the heart” so as to foster “a fully human communication.”

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an umbrella term for the technologies that simulate human intelligence through algorithms, data and computational power. As use of artificial intelligence becomes more common, the ethical issues surrounding the technology increase.

Pope Francis does not provide a pat answer to all the promise and problems posed by the rapid growth of artificial intelligence. Rather, he raises some questions to keep in mind as AI continues to develop. Among those questions:

n How do we safeguard professionalism and the dignity of workers?

n How do we make the criteria guiding algorithms more transparent?

n How do we make it clear whether an image or video is AI-generated? And perhaps, most importantly:

n How do we “promote an environment suitable for preserving pluralism and portraying the complexity of reality”?


To begin, Pope Francis calls upon all people to start with wisdom of the heart,

so that we can “remain fully human and guide this cultural transformation to serve a good purpose.”

The Holy Father invites people to adopt a spiritual way of viewing reality. On the surface, embracing a deeper spirituality doesn’t seem like much of an answer to AI, but only by keeping a tight hold on a maturing of our relationship with God, can we help AI – or any technology for that matter – maintain its proper place, which is to be of service to the growth of humanity. Wisdom, a gift of the Holy Spirit, “enables us to look at things with God’s eyes, to see connections, situations, events and to uncover their real meaning.” Such wisdom, the pope reassures us, “cannot be sought from machines.”

AI may be able to help gather more data than we could ever imagine, but it still takes human intelligence to make sense of the data gathered and to apply it for the common good of humanity.


In his message, Pope Francis refers to original sin and the human capacity to be tempted to be “like God without God.” The phenomenal ability of artificial intelligence to compute more than a human brain ever could feeds right into the temptation to overcome our humanness by putting too much trust in god-like machines.

“Human beings have always realized that they are not self-sufficient and have sought to overcome their vulnerability by employing every means possible,” the pope writes.

Perhaps an antidote to the temptation to abuse artificial intelligence is to embrace our vulnerability as humans: to accept that we will never know everything, and in accepting, to surrender to the fact that God is God and we are not. That is a spiritual journey that takes patience, discernment and wisdom of the heart.

The Holy Father ends his reflections on artificial intelligence by placing responsibility for these technologies in our own hands. He says, “It is up to us to decide whether we will become fodder for algorithms or will nourish our hearts with that freedom without which we cannot grow in wisdom. … Only together can we increase our capacity for discernment and vigilance and for seeing things in the light of their fulfillment. Lest humanity lose its bearings, let us seek the wisdom that was present for all things.”

Like most other technologies that human intelligence has provided for the good of humankind, AI is a tool that has both positive and negative possibilities depending on how it is used. As we move forward into a world that will rely on artificial intelligence more and more, we must endeavor to be grounded in our truest humanity, made in the image of God. Wisdom and discernment are necessary. Let us pray to grow in these virtues.

SISTER HOSEA RUPPRECHT, a Daughter of St. Paul, is the associate director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies. Most-read

‘Love makes us better; it makes us richer, and it makes us wiser, at any age. Love makes us better.’

Pope Francis

From online story: “Love makes individuals and the world better, pope says”

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