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Forget RCIA, meet OCIA: U.S. bishops approve big name change

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has decided to change the name of the process by which individuals enter the Catholic Church. / Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Nov 18, 2021 / 16:32 pm (CNA).

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, or RCIA, as it has been more commonly referred to, will have its name changed to Order of Christian Initiation for Adults, or OCIA, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops decided this week.

The name change applies both to the process by which one enters the Church and the book that contains the ritual text and prayers for those steps.

Following the trend of updating all liturgical texts to reflect greater fidelity to the original Latin, the U.S. bishops, meeting in Baltimore for their annual fall assembly, approved on Nov. 17 a revised English edition of the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults. The English version passed 215-0 with two abstentions. 

The action still needs the approval of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments before it takes effect.

On May 7, 2001, Pope John Paul II published Liturgiam authenticam, a document on the use of vernacular languages in the publication of the books of the Roman Liturgy. This document set in motion a translation effort aimed at preserving the closest wording of the Latin liturgy. People in the pews may be most familiar with the way this effort affected the translation of the Mass. 

Book by book, the bishops conferences of each language have translated updated versions of the various rites in the Church, renaming the Rite of Penance to the Order of Penance, for instance, after the Latin “Ordo paenitentiae.” 

This is the latest book to undergo the translation effort. Because RCIA was also the name popularly associated with the process of going through the restored catechumenate, the process also has been renamed, a potentially confusing switch that may leave people wondering if anything else changed within the process.  

In a slight revision, the traditional categorization of those petitioning for full acceptance into the Church has been changed. The new revision includes four groups: catechumens (who are unbaptized adults); unbaptized infants; baptized non-Catholic Christians, and baptized Catholics in need of confirmation.

Additionally, individuals in RCIA were usually referred to as a “candidate.” OCIA will be split depending on where the candidate is in the initiation process. Terms used will be “inquirer,” “catechumen” and “elect.” 

In order to become a Catholic, individuals go through several rites with the final being at the Easter Vigil when they are welcomed into the Catholic Church. The Easter Vigil rites have also been adjusted. They will now focus more on the validity of baptisms received in other Christian denominations. 

The new edition will also include texts for infant baptisms at the Easter Vigil, a feature not widely practiced before this change. 

A Spanish version was also voted on and passed 218-3 with one abstention. It will keep the acronym of RICA, which in Spanish translates as “Ritual de Iniciación Cristiana de Adultos.” 

Oklahoma governor's clemency of Julius Jones took 'tremendous courage,' Archbishop Coakley says

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley preaching during Mass in the cathedral in 2021. / Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Nov 18, 2021 / 12:21 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City praised Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) for his “tremendous courage” in granting convicted murderer Julius Jones clemency hours ahead of his scheduled execution on Nov. 18.

“It took tremendous courage in the face of intense pressure for Gov. Stitt to grant clemency in this case,” said Coakley, in a statement released shortly after the governor commuted Jones’ sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“I applaud his commitment to seeking justice while providing the condemned an opportunity for redemption,” the archbishop continued. “To oppose the death penalty is not to be soft on crime. Rather, it is to be strong on the dignity of life.” 

Earlier on Thursday, Coakley tweeted that he “offered Mass this morning for Julis and Gov. Stitt. It’s in the Lord’s hands now.” The Archdiocese of OKlahoma City had planned several simultaneous prayer vigils throughout the archdiocese in the hour before Jones was set to be executed. 

Jones was sentenced to death in 2002 for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell. His case drew international attention and he has maintained that he is innocent of the crime. Howell was shot twice in the head in his parents’ driveway, in front of his daughters. Jones, who was 19-years-old, was accused of shooting Howell while in the process of carjacking his SUV. 

Howell’s family believes Jones is responsible for the murder. 

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended on Nov. 1 that Jones be granted clemency. Despite the recommendation, it was up to Stitt to decide whether or not to commute his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

Stitt commuted his sentence shortly after noon Central time on Thursday. Jones was set to be executed at 4 p.m. Central. 

“After prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all sides of this case, I have determined to commute Julius Jones’ sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole,” said Stitt in a statement released after he decided to commute the sentence. 

In the nearly two decades since Jones was sentenced to death, there has been a growing movement to stop his execution. The Innocence Project, as well as many celebrities, have drawn international attention to his case. 

A Change.org petition calling for the state of Oklahoma to stop the execution has been signed by more than six and a half million people. 

Alabama college students to host school’s first Eucharistic procession

Eucharistic procession the evening of Nov. 18, 2021 on the campus of the University of South Alabama. / Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Student Center

Boston, Mass., Nov 18, 2021 / 10:30 am (CNA).

The Catholic student center at the University of South Alabama in Mobile is set to host the school’s first-ever Eucharistic procession the evening of Nov. 18. 

“We are very honored to be a part of the first ever Eucharistic procession on campus,” said Millie Martorana, a junior majoring in Business Management who attends Mass at the student center. 

The event is set to begin with a Mass in front of the school’s Hancock Whitney Stadium at 6 p.m. CST, followed by the Eucharistic procession which will stop in the middle of the campus at the Moulton Tower for prayers, and will finish at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Student Center. Organizers say the event is open to all students and anyone off campus who wishes to participate. 

Martorana told CNA she is most excited about the opportunity to “offer this powerful prayer for all of the students on campus and testify to the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist in the Catholic Church.”

“I hope that this event will allow students to encounter Jesus through reverence, beauty, and prayer wherever they may be,” she added.

Father Norbert Jurek, chaplain at the student center, told CNA that after talking to the chaplains who preceded him, he discovered that this will likely be the first time a Eucharistic procession has ever taken place on the public University of South Alabama campus.

Students of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Student Center at the University of South Alabama with the chaplain, Fr. Norbert Jurek (back row, third from right). Courtesy of Katie Ray
Students of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Student Center at the University of South Alabama with the chaplain, Fr. Norbert Jurek (back row, third from right). Courtesy of Katie Ray

“We are really happy that we were able to put it together this year and hopefully it’s going to be a regular thing,” Jurek said, adding that students are not generally on campus during the Feast of Corpus Christi, a day when Eucharistic processions are widely held across the world. 

Alabama as a whole has a population of almost 5 million, only about 7% of whom are Catholic, with the vast majority of Alabamans identifying as Protestant. 

Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile has declared “The Year of the Eucharist and the Parish,” which ends Nov. 21, 2021. As a result, the Catholic student center was inspired to do a Eucharistic procession to finish out the year, Jurek said. 

Jurek also said that because of “unfortunate” reports of the large percentage of Catholics who do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the Center decided the Eucharistic procession would be a great way to demonstrate their belief. 

Current students and alumni have reached out to Jurek sharing their excitement about the procession, he said, giving him “a lot of positive feedback.”

“I have to say the university was also very helpful in organizing it, approving the whole event, so that has been great as well,” he said.

Jurek said he thinks the Mass and procession will take a little more than an hour to complete, after which participants are invited back to the center for free reception.

Martorana said she thinks that the event “will encourage all involved to live out the passage in Luke 8 that says, ‘No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light’: to share and proclaim the gift that is the true presence of Jesus' Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.”

Cardinal Sarah calls Catholic priests to spiritual renewal in new book

Cardinal Robert Sarah celebrates Mass in St. Peter's Basilica Sept. 28, 2019. / Evandro Inetti/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Nov 18, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

‘If priests, if society look to God, then I think things will change,’ he said.

Order of Malta’s 79th Grand Master to be buried in Maltese cathedral’s crypt

Fra’ Matthew Festing, the Order of Malta’s 79th Grand Master, pictured on Feb. 18, 2013, at the order’s headquarters in Rome. / Estefania Aguirre/CNA.

Valletta, Malta, Nov 18, 2021 / 06:10 am (CNA).

The funeral will be held on Dec. 3 at St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta.

Why was Indy chosen for the Eucharistic Congress? The archbishop explains

Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, one of the venues for the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress. / Shutterstock

Baltimore, Md., Nov 18, 2021 / 00:00 am (CNA).

Half of America lives within a day’s drive of Indianapolis.

The U.S. bishops hope up to 100,000 of those people show up in the Circle City three years from now for the first national Eucharistic congress since 1976.

“Our people are excited about what it can mean for us as families, as individuals, as parishes, as a diocese, but [also] as a Church throughout the country,” Archbishop Charles C. Thompson of Indianapolis told CNA on Nov. 17.

Earlier in the day, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced the city as the location of the National Eucharist Congress, scheduled for July 17-21, 2024. The gathering will mark the culmination of a three-year Eucharist revival campaign the U.S. bishops plan to undertake, beginning on June 19, 2022 on the feast of Corpus Christi.

Denver, Atlanta, and Indianapolis all made the short list of possible host cities, Thompson said. 

In the end, he was told, it was the city’s central location, its highly regarded convention facilities, and its experience hosting major events, including the Super Bowl, last year’s NBA playoffs, and the 2022 College Football Championship Game Jan. 10, that tipped the scales.

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson of Indianapolis at the the 2021 Fall Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. Shannon Mullen/CNA
Archbishop Charles C. Thompson of Indianapolis at the the 2021 Fall Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. Shannon Mullen/CNA

The city’s convention center, 70,000-seat Lucas Oil Stadium, and a network of major hotels are all connected to one another, Thompson noted, making it easy for event goers to move from site to site without going outdoors.

Thompson himself was flying home Nov. 18 to attend the National Catholic Youth Conference, being held in Indianapolis Nov. 18-20.

Because it’s been 45 years since the last U.S. Eucharistic congress, in Philadelphia, American Catholics might need a refresher about what such a happening actually is.

In short, it’s a concentrated celebration of the Eucharist as the centerpiece of Catholic life, and typically features Masses, adoration, processions, and inspirational speakers, among other events. The 52nd International Eucharist Congress took place in Budapest, Hungary on Sept. 5-12.

The city’s selection as host of the 2024 congress will mean more work for the archdiocese, but Thompson told CNA he’s confident his staff is up for the challenge.

He thinks Indianapolis is a fitting choice, for many reasons.

“Indiana is known as the crossroads of America,” he said. 

“When I think of crossroads I think of the cross. And without the cross, there would be no Eucharist. Jesus on Holy Thursday night gives a great model of service, but he also gives us his body and blood.”

Catholic teenager suspended for saying there are only two genders sues school district

Exeter High School in Exeter, New Hampshire. / Austin Blake Grant via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Denver Newsroom, Nov 17, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

A Catholic teenager who was reportedly suspended for saying there are only two genders is suing his New Hampshire public school district.

The lawsuit, filed in a state court Nov. 4, said that the teen’s suspension from a football game in September breached the teen’s constitutional right to free speech, as well as the New Hampshire Bill of Rights, reported The Portsmouth Herald.

The teen, identified only as M.P., is a freshman at Exeter High School, a public high school in Exeter, New Hampshire.

The lawsuit, filed in Rockingham Superior Court through an attorney with the Christian organization Cornerstone, describes M.P. as “a believing Catholic, holding to the historic Christian doctrine that God created human beings male and female.” 

Citing the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education’s 2019 document “Male and Female He Created Them,” the suit says: “The Catholic Church’s formal teachings explicitly reject all ‘attempts to negate the male-female duality of human nature.’”

The lawsuit challenges the school district’s “Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students” policy, which states that “A student has the right to be addressed by a name and pronoun that corresponds to the student’s gender identity.”

Cornerstone argues that the policy penalizes students who, out of religious conviction, decline to address students by their preferred gender pronouns, rather than the pronouns corresponding with their biological sex.

The policy adds: “The intentional or persistent refusal to respect a student’s gender identity (for example, intentionally referring to the student by a name or pronoun that does not correspond to the student’s gender identity) is a violation of this policy.”

The lawsuit traces the suspension back to a Spanish class on Sept. 9 in which a teacher asked students to introduce themselves. A student reportedly expressed a preference for being addressed as “they.”

M.P. had no interaction with the student, the lawsuit said, but spoke with two friends on a school bus about the use of third-person pronouns in Spanish. 

The lawsuit asserts that a female student overheard the conversation and interjected: “There’s more than two genders!” 

M.P. reportedly replied: “No there isn’t: there’s only two genders.”

The young man is said to have received a text message later from the female student seeking to continue the discussion.

“The two then had a contentious exchange of texts on the issue,” the lawsuit said, which took place “outside of school hours and off school grounds.” 

The texts were given to the school administration and resulted in M.P.’s suspension, the suit says.

Exeter Superintendent David Ryan said that he was aware of the lawsuit, which seeks nominal damages and an injunction prohibiting the school district from applying the policy “to penalize, through athletic suspension or other means, mere expression of the belief that there are only two genders.”

“We are in the process of reviewing this complaint with legal counsel and will be able to share a statement once we have completed that review,” Ryan said.

The lawsuit argues that the school district policy and the chain of events leading to the suspension are not neutral towards religion.

“Instead, they compel M. P. to deny the historic tenets of his faith by affirming non-binary gender identities and/or using ideologically loaded terms such as the singular pronoun ‘they,’ it said. 

“Defendants’ policies and actions disfavor the expression of beliefs held by tens of millions of believing Catholics in the United States, as well as by countless other traditional Christians, Muslims, and Orthodox Jews.”

Everything you need to know about the National Eucharistic Congress

Bishop-designate Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minn., speaks to the general assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Nov. 17, 2021, in Baltimore. / Screenshot from USCCB video

Baltimore, Md., Nov 17, 2021 / 16:20 pm (CNA).

Seeking to rekindle devotion to the Eucharist, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted Nov. 17 to launch an ambitious, three-year revival initiative, culminating with a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in 2024.

“My sense, from speaking with you, is that the Holy Spirit is leading us together to fulfill a great need for the Church,” Bishop-designate Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minn., one of the architects of the multi-faceted campaign, said Wednesday during the USCCB’s annual fall assembly in Baltimore.

The revival initiative will include the development of new teaching materials, training for diocesan and parish leaders, the launch of a dedicated revival website, and the deployment of a special team of 50 priests who will travel the country to preach about the Eucharist.

The campaign will officially launch on June 19, 2022 on the feast of Corpus Christi. Dioceses will be encouraged to hold Eucharistic processions on that day, Cozzens said. He said Blessed Carlo Acutis, the young Italian Catholic who used his computer skills to share online content about Eucharistic miracles, will be the patron of the revival’s first year.

Perhaps the revival’s most ambitious component is a National Eucharistic Congress planned for July 17-21, 2024 in Indianapolis, Cozzens announced Wednesday. In an interview with CNA, Cozzens said the congress would be the first of its kind in the United States in nearly 50 years. He told the bishops during his presentation that the last large U.S. Eucharistic congress took place in Philadelphia in 1976. Previously, Cozzens said, such national eucharistic events were held once a decade.

The bishops voted 201 to 17 in favor of the revival campaign, with five abstentions. The voting was anonymous and conducted electronically.

“I am very hopeful that it will produce the great fruits that all my brother bishops are praying for and hoping for during these days, including helping people in the course of the revival to rediscover the beauty of the Mass and return to Mass,” Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City said prior to the vote.

“I think we're on the cusp and on the verge of something truly impactful and wonderful for the Church in the United States,” Coakley said. “I think this might be just what we need.” 

“Let the revival begin, brothers,” Cozzens said after the vote.

Currently an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Cozzens serves as chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. In an interview with CNA, he said the initiative is a comprehensive effort to spark a greater love and devotion to the Eucharist.

“Our goal is to lead people to a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist so that their lives can be transformed,” Cozzens said.

“And the reason it's three years is because we want to affect the Church at every level,” with different initiatives geared for parishes, dioceses, and the country as a whole, he said.

“We want the depth. We don't just want to have a couple of nice celebrations that say the Eucharist is great,” Cozzens told CNA.

“The bishops are asking for a deep and sustained focus on the Eucharist. And my hope is that … this will become a long-lasting movement,” Cozzens said.

Other highlights of the revival plan include the following:

  • The distribution of a “how-to” handbook to diocesan leaders in December.

  • The launch of a dedicated website, EucharisticRevival.org, expected in January, providing a wealth of catechetical resources in both English and Spanish, including the new document on the Eucharist the bishops approved Nov. 17. Cozzens said the website is being funded by FORMED, an online provider of Catholic faith formation resources, amounting to an in-kind gift of $1.2 million.

  • The commission of a new study on Catholic belief in the Eucharist by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. Cozzens said the study will be funded by the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame. The new study stems in part from concerns among U.S. Catholic leaders about the validity of a widely referenced Pew Research Center survey in 2019 that found that just one-third of U.S. Catholics agree that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

  • The development of a national advertising campaign about the revival effort, funded by a grant from the Knights of Columbus. The Knights of Columbus is also partnering with the USCCB to provide dioceses with a “tool kit” for holding Corpus Christi processions.

During the discussion about the revival initiative Wednesday, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, said that while he supported the idea of holding a Eucharistic Congress, he questions the estimated $28 million cost associated with holding the event, which Cozzens said he hopes can draw between 80,000 and 100,000 people to Indianapolis.

“I think this is a wonderful proposal. I’m a little concerned, though, and I've mentioned this to you once before, the $28 million price tag on this gathering, I think, might appear to be a bit scandalous, if you think about all of the things that the Church needs and asks money for."

“We're talking about a lot of people, that's the real issue,” Cozzens responded. “That's why it costs so much. I do think the spiritual fruits of the event will be worth the investment.”

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed Archbishop Coakley's statements on the Eucharistic Revival initiative to another speaker.

The best Catholic Advent calendars for 2021

Advent calendar / Elena Mozhvilo/Unsplash

Denver Newsroom, Nov 17, 2021 / 16:02 pm (CNA).

Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ. And while it’s easy to get distracted by the craziness leading up to this special day, the Advent season is the perfect time to bring your family together and spend time learning about and celebrating the true meaning of Christmas. 

Here’s a list of our favorite Advent calendars to bring the Nativity story to your family, and hopefully create cherished memories and long-lasting traditions.

Perfect for kids

  • “Advent Calendar: Nativity” on lovepop.com 

    This Advent calendar is a great way to get your kids interacting with the story of Jesus’ birth. This Nativity day-by-day advent calendar includes paper pop-ups to teach the story of Jesus’ birth in a hands-on way. For each day, there is a brief explanation of the Nativity story that is easy to read and understandable for young children. 

  • “Color Your Own Advent Calendar” on catholiccompany.com 

    This color-your-own Advent calendar from the Catholic Company encourages children to use their creativity as they learn the Nativity story. It teaches children the story of Jesus’ birth as they color different sections of the Nativity scene each day leading up to Christmas. 

Something the whole family will love

  • “Manger Scene - Freestanding Advent Calendar” on ewtnrc.com

    Countdown to Christmas with this Advent calendar depicting the manger scene. Each day, open the corresponding window to reveal a special image and Bible verse that retells part of the Nativity story. Get the whole family involved by rotating who gets to read each day. 

  • “Itty Bittys Countdown Calendar to Jesus’ Birthday” on ewtnrc.com

    For families with newborns or babies, the Itty Bittys Countdown Calendar to Jesus’ Birthday from the EWTN Religious Catalogue is a great option. It features a plush baby Jesus that is moved from pocket to pocket each day and then is placed in the manger on Dec. 25. It’s a great way to start getting your little one familiar with Advent and the Nativity story. 

Do it yourself

  • If you’re looking for a DIY Advent calendar, here’s an idea for one you can make using only envelopes, paper and a pen. Start by drawing numbers on each envelope and place them, in numerical order, throughout your home. For example, you can pin them to a bulletin board, or clip them to long pieces of twine that can be hung on the wall. Then take smaller pieces of paper and write Bible verses that retell the story of Jesus’ birth and place them in each envelope. You can also write ideas for kind gestures you and your kids can do for a family member, such as “Do a chore you don’t usually do” or “Compliment someone today.”


Prayerful; for grown-ups

Don’t let the busyness of the holiday season distract you from its true meaning— preparing for the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Invite the joy of Advent into your homes and families, and remember it’s not about the presents, but His presence.

There are plenty of different options for to every need, if you want to see more, visit: https://www.ewtnreligiouscatalogue.com/Advent-Calendars

Blessed Carlo Acutis named a patron of Eucharistic Revival campaign

Bl. Carlo Acutis / carloacutis.com

Baltimore, Md., Nov 17, 2021 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

Blessed Carlo Acutis will serve as the patron of the first year of a new three-year Eucharistic Revival project the U.S. bishops approved Nov. 17, a designation that entrusts a critical initiative to the intercession of a popular modern Catholic hero known for spreading devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

Acutis, an English-born Italian Catholic who died in 2006 at age 15 shortly after being diagnosed with leukemia, used his technical prowess as an amateur computer programmer to share information online about Eucharistic miracles. He is the first Catholic from the Millennial generation to be beatified.

Among the sentiments Acutis shared online is his testimony that “the more often we receive the Eucharist, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of heaven."

That same message is at the heart of the bishops’ Eucharist campaign, which was endorsed Wednesday during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual fall assembly in Baltimore. Patrons for the other years of the campaign were not announced.

Set to officially launch with diocesan Eucharistic processions around the country on June 22, 2022 for the feast of Corpus Christi, the effort will include the creation of a new Eucharistic revival website, the development of new teaching materials, special training for diocesan and parish leaders, a traveling team of Eucharistic preachers, and a host of other initiatives.

The campaign will culminate with a National Eucharist Congress, the first of its kind in the United States in nearly 50 years, to be held July 17-21 in Indianapolis, Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens, one of the architects of the revival campaign, announced Wednesday. Cozzens is the bishop-designate for the Diocese of Crookston, Minn and an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.

The bishops’ campaign, which many Catholics view as long overdue, comes at a time when devotion to the Eucharist is lagging among those who identify themselves as Catholic, surveys and other indicators show. 

That trend already was well underway during Acutis’ lifetime. His mother has said that before she had Carlo, she went to Mass only for her First Communion, her confirmation, and her wedding. But as a young child, Carlo loved to pray the Rosary. After he made his First Communion, he went to Mass as often as he could. He asked his parents to take him on pilgrimages, particularly to the sites of Eucharistic miracles.

Acutis was beatified on Oct. 10, 2020, in Assisi, Italy