“Hate crime”: Baby Jesus stolen from church nativity scene, replaced with pig’s head—UPDATED

From Boston.com:  A baby Jesus statue at a Haverhill church’s nativity scene was taken and replaced with a “freshly decapitated” pig’s head on Christmas morning, police said. John Delaney, the pastor of Sacred Hearts Roman Catholic Church, said he had a mix of “shock” and “horror” upon seeing the bloody head on Thursday morning just [Read More...]

Christmas in Forest Hills

Shortly before Midnight Mass—which actually took place at midnight!— from my parish, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Forest Hills, NY. The liturgy was breathtaking: 40 altar servers, five priests, one deacon, full choir, a trumpet, and an eloquent homiletic meditation on “O Holy Night” by our pastor, Bishop Paul Sanchez—who reflected on the phrase [Read More...]

Window pains: stained glass industry disappearing

From The Wall Street Journal: After a couple of millennia of sustained popularity, the stained-glass industry is showing serious cracks. Declining church attendance is playing a role, as is the growth of nondenominational congregations like Wave that pine for a more modern aesthetic. Even churches that want stained glass are increasingly evaluating whether it fits [Read More...]

Building a never-ending church: a new film about Sagrada Familia

A new documentary has just been released that tells the story of this remarkable undertaking in Barcelona.  At the church’s dedication in 2010, Pope Benedict noted:  The joy which I feel at presiding at this ceremony became all the greater when I learned that this shrine, since its beginnings, has had a special relationship with [Read More...]

Resurrection: After tornado, parish rebuilds, consecrates new church

Some good news, just in time for Christmas, from The Joplin Globe in Missouri: It wasn’t wrapped in red and green paper, and it certainly wasn’t sitting underneath a tree, but the new St. Mary’s Catholic Church was the best holiday gift that parishioners said they could have received this time of year. “It’s like [Read More...]

Hitting the road: The Bench and CNEWA visit Long Island

The past couple of days I found myself on a rare weekend away from my home parish, giving talks at Curé of Ars Catholic Church in Merrick, New York.  I was there with two of my colleagues from CNEWA, Norma Intriago and Chris Kennedy, to raise awareness about the plight of persecuted Christians and enlist support [Read More...]

“Busting at the seams,” Phoenix adds another church to serve growing Catholic population

This speaks to the vibrant faith of the American southwest—and the burgeoning immigrant population. Details:  A longstanding Catholic parish in Chandler is moving forward with plans to build a second church at the southern end of the city. The new church, called St. Juan Diego…will be part of the existing parish at St. Mary’s Catholic [Read More...]

Windfall: Christ Cathedral in Orange gets $20 million anonymous gift

Wow:  A donor who asked not to be named has donated $20 million to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange to help fund its multimillion-dollar renovation and transformation of the 34-acre campus that was once home to Robert A. Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral. The donation, which will be paid off within seven years, is the largest gift [Read More...]

Church construction in U.S. hits record low

From The Wall Street Journal:  Americans aren’t building churches like they used to anymore. Construction of religious buildings in the U.S. has fallen to the lowest level at any time since private records began in 1967. Religious groups will build an estimated 10.3 million square feet this year, down 6% from 2013 and 80% since [Read More...]

Alaska cathedral vandalized

From The Catholic Anchor: The historic Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage was vandalized on Dec. 2. The Dominican priests who staff the parish found it damaged and in disarray at about 4:30 p.m. A video of the damage taken by Dominican Father Mark Francis Manzano shows overturned pews, spilt holy water, toppled liturgical furniture, including [Read More...]


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