In This Year of Faith: Thank You, Mr. Monaghan, for the Catechism

“Before we begin,” said Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, “I want to thank Tom Monaghan for funding the Catechism.”

The group gathered at the Archbishop’s Palace in Vienna gasped—Mr. Monaghan, despite occasional snips in the press, has always been modest about his personal philanthropy, and even his office staff had never heard this story.  I was there, and I heard the Cardinal’s heartfelt expression of thanks.

On this twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I join with Cardinal Schönborn in extending my thanks for this singularly important gift to the Church—and I offer you an inside look at the story.

Archbishop’s Palace – Vienna

I was working as conference director for Legatus, and leading the group’s annual pilgrimage to Rome.  Each year there was a shoulder trip to another European destination; and this time, we planned a side trip to Vienna.  Our itinerary included tours of palaces and galleries, and a Danube River cruise ending in a heurigen—a traditional Viennese celebration of the harvest, replete with the new, as yet unfermented wine.

On this late September afternoon, though, we were at the Archbishop’s Palace on the north side of St. Stephen’s Square.  There we would have Mass in the Archbishop’s private chapel, then a welcome address from Cardinal Schönborn, followed by a reception and dinner.  It was an evening to cherish in memory.

Cardinal Schonborn

If I recall correctly, we sat on narrow chairs in a small room near the chapel, waiting for the Cardinal to complete his tasks in the sacristy and address our group.  Finally he arrived—a popular figure, he received a standing ovation from our group of American business leaders.

And as we took our seats, he began as I wrote above:  “Before we begin, I want to thank Tom Monaghan for funding the Catechism.”  He explained that in the mid-1980s, Pope John Paul II had indicated an interest in developing a catechism for the worldwide Church; a commission of 12 bishops and cardinals had been put in charge of the project; but for several years, it had not moved forward.  At the end of each fiscal year, various Vatican departments looked at their budgets and could not find room for such a large project.  That was, he explained, when Tom Monaghan stepped in and offered the necessary sponsorship for the research, travel, staff and equipment necessary to complete the project.  Without Tom, Cardinal Schönborn explained, the Catechism might never have been published.

Thomas S. Monaghan—who grew up in an orphanage, founded Domino’s Pizza, bought and sold the Detroit Tigers baseball franchise, then took what he called a “rich man’s vow of poverty”—has done much to advance the Catholic Faith in the modern world.  He founded the international business leaders’ association, Legatus; provided the seed funding for the Ave Maria Radio Network; established a Catholic college and law school, which are now graduating alumni well qualified to effect change in the culture; he supported Catholic elementary, high school and preschools in the Ann Arbor area; he helped to institute the Thomas More Law Center; and he provided constant support for many pro-life initiatives, nationally and locally.

But this one project—the Catechism of the Catholic Church—has implications which reach beyond our era, offering guidance and unpacking difficult theological issues for the common reader, far into the future.

For his part in bringing this to fruition, and for all he’s done, I thank Tom Monaghan.  May God continue to bless him.

Bells Herald the Year of Faith

San Gabriel Mission bells

Church Bells. 

School Bells.  

Hand Bells. 

Sleigh Bells. 

Bicycle Bells. 

Even Doorbells!

At 12 noon on October 11, 2012, hundreds of Catholic churches and thousands of people across the United States will be joining together to ring in the first day of the Year of Faith.  Declared by Pope Benedict XVI for the period from October 11, 2012 through November 24, 2013, the Year of Faith is intended as “a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the Savior of the world.”

  • In the Diocese of Portland in Maine, students and faculty at Catholic schools throughout the state will head outdoors, each holding a bell which they’ll ring for three minutes to welcome the year.
  • In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, the Son Rise Morning Show, which airs on Sacred Heart Radio affiliates and other stations around the country, has joined with the Catholic Campus Ministry Association and the Cincinnati-based Verdin Company to promote “Ring in the Year of Faith.”
  • In California, the 241-year-old San Gabriel Mission will ring its bells at noon.  Pastor Bruce Wellems, CMF, pastor of the San Gabriel Mission, invites people to come to the Mission’s Gift Shop at 11:45 a.m., where they will be led to a special place where they will have the opportunity to ring the largest of the mission’s six bells, the 2,000 pound bell.
  • Bishop James D. Conley, bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, encouraged Catholic churches and individuals in Lincoln to participate.  He urged, “Let your neighbors know that the New Evangelization is under way in your part of the world.”
  • Non-Catholic churches are invited to ring their bells as well, as a sign of solidarity with the Catholic Church’s stance on religious liberty.

The Verdin Company, which originated the “Ring in the Year of Faith” project, has since 1842 been dedicated to creating fine cast bronze bells and electronic digital bells, as well as tower clocks, street clocks and streetscape furnishings.  If you don’t have a bell to ring at noon, Verdin offers a free ringtone which can be downloaded from its website.