Category Archives: Religion

A Leo man is promoted to everlasting life

He is Robert L. Hylard, who cashed in at 86 and remained loyal to his school to the end.









Pat Hickey tells us about him.

He was

the Kid from VIZ [Visitation parish, 55th Street] who played in Leo’s Marching Band for four years, wrote for and helped edited the school news paper the Oriole, ‘trod the boards’ in every Leo Dramatic production from junior year on, and played lightweight football on the cinders and broken beer bottle glass of Shewbridge Field – the iconic home to Leo High School football, now Amos Alonzo Stagg Elementary.

He is remembered with affection.

The young African American, Mexican and Canaryville Irish kids who now attend Mr. Hylard’s Alma Mater knew him well. Bob Hylard made all of the football home games, most of the away and every Leo High School event that showcased the talents and skills of our young men a huge mark on his calendar.

Leo remains a boys’ school, vigorously supported and operated by its mostly (S. Side) Irishers, a haven of excellence in a rough neighborhood.

More about Leo here.

Pope Francis: ‘Be Courageous, and Go to Confession’

Oh my, is this wonderful, or not?

“Don’t be afraid of confession,” Pope Francis stressed. “When someone is in line for confession, he feels all these things, even shame; but then, when he finishes confessing, he leaves (feeling) free, great, beautiful, forgiven, clean, happy.”

Pope Francis: ‘Be Courageous, and Go to Confession’

The Holy Father spoke of the healing available in the sacrament of reconciliation at his Feb. 19 audience: ‘Forgiveness is not a result of our efforts, but is a gift. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit, who showers us with mercy and grace that pours forth unceasingly from the open heart of Christ, crucified and risen.’


VATICAN CITY — During his Wednesday audience on Feb. 19, Pope Francis encouraged the pilgrims filling St. Peter’s Square to receive the sacrament of reconciliation.
“Everyone say to himself: ‘When was the last time I went to confession?’ And if it has been a long time, don’t lose another day. Go, the priest will be good. And Jesus, (will be) there, and Jesus is better than the priests. Jesus receives you: He will receive you with so much love.”
“Be courageous, and go to confession,” urged the Pope.
Acknowledging a popular objection to the sacrament, Pope Francis noted, “Someone can say, ‘I confess my sins only to God.’ Yes, you can say to God, ‘Forgive me,’ and say your sins. But our sins are also against our brothers, against the Church. This is is why it is necessary to ask forgiveness of the Church and of our brothers, in the person of the priest.”
“While the celebration of the sacrament is personal, it is rooted in the universality of the Church,” which “accompanies us on the path of conversion,” he explained.
“Forgiveness is not something we can give ourselves,” cautioned the Pope. “One asks forgiveness; one asks it of another person, and in confession, we ask forgiveness from Jesus.”
“Forgiveness is not a result of our efforts, but is a gift. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit, who showers us with mercy and grace that pours forth unceasingly from the open heart of Christ, crucified and risen.”
The Pope went on to recognize that many people feel ashamed at the idea of confessing their sins and might say, “But Father, I am embarrased.”
“Even embarrassment is good. It’s healthy to have a bit of shame. … It does us good, because it makes us more humble.”
“Don’t be afraid of confession,” Pope Francis stressed. “When someone is in line for confession, he feels all these things, even shame; but then, when he finishes confessing, he leaves (feeling) free, great, beautiful, forgiven, clean, happy.”
“The sacrament of reconciliation is a sacrament of healing,” he pointed out.
“When I go to confession, it’s for healing: healing the soul, healing the heart, because of something that I did to make it unwell.”
The Pope pointed to the biblical story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man, which expresses the “profound link” between “forgiveness and healing,” since “the Lord Jesus is revealed at the same time as the physician of soul and body.”
He also recounted the Parable of the Prodigal Son, who sought his father’s forgiveness and was welcomed home with open arms.
“But I say to you,” he stressed to the many pilgrims, “every time we go to confession, God embraces us.”

Prayer meeting question never asked . . .

. . . but dangerously close to being asked:

In a “theology” gathering of 25 or so members of a nearby parish, we were instructed to do some heavy meditating for eight minutes, each of us at a round table for six or eight. I put my head in hands and went to it. Think of nothing but a word you decide on, hang with it for the whole time, avoiding any thoughts or images or whatever, we were advised.

Centering prayer it’s called, but I spotted it pronto for good old Transcendental Meditation of the ’70s, brought to us by the Maharishi Something, who had a spread in Iowa. I took a course in it for a story, which ran with a memorable head shot of me with my eyes closed. An action shot, you know, of a man meditating.

Tonight I went to it and managed a semi-doze that suited me nicely, until the lady in charge, a liturgy associate type, instrumentally gifted and a leader of song, rang a bell, GONG! to tell us to come out of it.

It was at that point that I was inspired by the spirit of my misspent late middle age to lift up my head, turn to the lady bell-ringer, and ask, “For whom does that bell toll?”

God saved me from such a brutal faux pas, sending a good spirit who (gasp!) provided me with a 1950s-style INHIBITION that saved the evening. Wow.

Maybe It’s Time For Modern Science To Back Off | Taking A Second Look

Maybe It’s Time For Modern Science To Back Off | Taking A Second Look.

A neatly stated case vs. cross-fertilization run wild.

Lets begin with the indisputable fact that modern science — especially in the fields of medicine and communication — has been a boon to mankind. But sometimes boon becomes bust when you overplay your hand. I think some of our scientists have. Especially when they start crowding such equally distinguished fields like Religion and the Humanities.


Company Man: My Jesuit Life, 1950-1968

Buy it at

Front cover

Whose kind of Terror Town is Chicago?

Eight shot last night in Terror Town, in Chicago’s once-white-posh South Shore neighborhood, of 19 shot in nine hours.  Coming up in tomorrow’s Sun-Times, a story about GUNS. 

Of course.  Mediums love stories about guns.  Allows them to be righteous about bad guys who supply them.  But what about shooters? 

They profile victims all the time, wringing hands about innocent people or kids who never had a chance, etc.  But do they profile shooters?  Why not?  Do him, his family, his neighborhood, IN DEPTH, as they say, or in shallow, early and often.

Blaming usual suspects if they must — gun suppliers, bad schools, right-wingers who lack sympathy, etc. — but while they are at it, the culture of dependency, the role of welfare in rewarding the father-free and in making fathers superfluous, the constant blame-whitey chatter from “Rev.” Sharpton and his ilk.

I ask too much and get carried away.  I have in mind a consulting of William Julius Wilson and his ilk, and a polling of pastors in the ‘hood.  I remember one I talked to decades ago after his long, long service, who told me of the pressure politicians put on him to gain his pulpit.  Someone candid but not blowing his horn.

A story featuring the pastors, and not just the ones who stage and lead marches, but ones the reporter — Chi Trib’s “Seeker” will do, or one of Sun-Times’s shoe-leather wearers-out, door-knockers, telephone-callers — finds by asking around, starting with denominational execs at to who’s who and trying at all times to separate wheat from chaff among them.

Can be done.  Beats the usual guns story, which I’m betting will quote Fr. Pfleger.  If the next guns story doesn’t quote him, I will eat my delete key.




Chickens home to roost on new religious egg

What we have here is the start of a new state religion, replete with doctrinal imperatives:

Dogma #1: A woman has the right, the unrestricted right, to make arrangements for the killing of her unborn child whenever such course of action is convenient. [I would add that abortion thereby becomes a sacrament.  Shades of Moloch.]

The others have to do with:

social recognition for romantic attraction . . . the people’s hero, Barack Hussein [as sovereign pontiff] . . . Christian faith [and especially the] Catholic Church [as new prime enemy] . . .

It’s from a St. Paul MN pastor.


Kenya girls saved by Anne & friends

Our daughter-in-law in Kenya, her report on her work with refugee women and girls:

Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2012 1:48 PM
Subject: Nairobi News!

Hello Everyone,

I hope this finds you all very well!

I can’t thank you enough for your patience and understanding with my lack of communication throughout the past several months!  I would like to share some updates with you, and to also thank you for supporting the Yoga Challenge and our second annual Fashion Challenge in October – it is going to be an amazing event!

It has certainly been a whirlwind couple of months for my husband and me since arriving in Kenya last January, but it’s also been amazing to be back and to witness the tremendous impact of Heshima Kenya’s programs.  I’ve worked with refugees for nearly 14 years, and I unequivocally find the refugee crisis in Kenya to be among the most horrifying humanitarian situations in the world, not only in scope but also because the majority of these refugees will never return home – this includes many of the 200,000 refugees who fled DR Congo two weeks ago. I think what is most daunting for myself – and our staff – is when we think about these girls’ lives without our programs and the support network it provides.  It makes us believe more in what we do each day.

131 young girls and women have been supported by Heshima Kenya’s programs since January 2012: 40% are from DRC, 31% Somalia, 16% Ethiopia, 1% Sudan , 7% Rwanda, 2% Burundi and 4 % Kenya.  We get to know the girls on such a personal level and witness their lives with peace; to know the profound impact that education will have on their futures and for their children; to see girls smile after grieving for so long.  Adnan, a 15-year-old girl from Somalia who joined our programs a year and a half ago, couldn’t speak after being assaulted by a gang of street boys.  Not only is she mentally challenged and epileptic, she also was abused by her mother who left her abandoned on the streets after the assault. Heshima Kenya was able to get a placement order for Adnan to stay at our Safe House and she is now attending a special education school during the day. Adnan is writing her name, speaking Swahili, and is helping staff and the girls look after the little kids at the shelter, twelve of whom are children of young mothers in the program. Other girls like Clementine from DR Congo are also thriving within the peace and security of Heshima Kenya’s programs. 17-year-old Clementine came to Heshima Kenya in January after losing her family and fleeing Congo to Kenya.  After finding a place to sleep at a local church in Nairobi, she was raped on the steps and became pregnant. When I first met Clementine, she couldn’t speak and slept for days.  She was completely traumatized, both physically and emotionally, and refused to hold her baby boy after being born. Six months later, Clementine is now one of our leaders – she is still residing at the Safe House but hopes to join the Maisha Collective soon where she will earn money, care for her baby independently, and possibly live with another Heshima girl within Nairobi. The other week Clementine presented a doll she made as part of a larger art therapy project. She spoke proudly in front of a group of 30 peers and talked about what her doll meant to her. It was truly humbling to witness. Clementine is learning tools to recover with peace, raise her baby with confidence, and believe in herself and the possibilities she has in life.

Some updates to share:

Recently Heshima Kenya has been receiving increased referrals of younger children, mainly siblings below 12 years of age, including 4-year-old Flora and her 11-year-old brother, Emilie, who is HIV positive and from DR Congo.  Along with the challenge of identifying safe foster care families, securing education sponsorship has also become an issue because of cost – nearly $600 per year a child because of transportation and general fees. 

The Maisha Collective has experienced exciting growth in the past couple months. IOM, the international organization responsible for arranging travel for refugees to the United States, recently ordered 1,200 scarves for its refugee travel kits. This means you may see a Maisha scarf on a newly arrived refugee in Chicago! We’ve also had a slew of other orders because of the tremendous work of the Chicago team and our new partnership brochure.  This success truly speaks to the grassroots efforts of our supporters in the US and the power and beauty behind each scarf, especially when we’ve done minimal marketing.  We still search for seed support to help manage the overall program in Chicago and Kenya, but with the help of a local Kenyan designer who is consulting with HK twice per week, we are finally on the path to creating new items – most importantly, the girls are committed to balancing their classes in the morning with making Maisha scarves in the afternoon – all while attending to their babies!

We received a $150,000 grant from Bright Future International for our Safe House program in January. This has allowed up to build the resource and staff capacity of our shelter program, including hiring a nurse, additional security guards, and purchasing a second van.  We also received a two-year grant of $100,000 from American Jewish World Services. This grant will allow us to focus on outreach in the Somali community, especially identifying and supporting unaccompanied refugee girls and young women who fled drought and violence in Somalia in 2011 and remain undocumented and without protection in Nairobi.  We will also be mobilizing graduates of our programs to support with outreach and training.

We are in the final stages of completing our customized database that will capture demographic data of the girls served in our programs since January 2008 to date.  We hope to share this information with partner organizations, including UNHCR and the State Department, to help close significant gaps in knowledge about this specific population. We are also preparing to produce a larger research piece early next year about migration trends and violations experienced by girls and young women near the borders of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Uganda/DR Congo.

Imgrad Krop, a local Kenyan journalist, will be volunteering with Heshima Kenya next month to help create a series of video news stories written and produced by the Heshima girls. Our goal is to produce a news piece each quarter and share on our new website that we will hopefully launching next month.

Our Safe House is the first shelter of its kind for refugee children in Kenya to be legally recognized by the Children’s Department of Kenya.  This is a tremendous victory after 22 years of refugee crisis and will hopefully be the first among a handful of wins led by Heshima Kenya in helping the government recognize the specialized needs and rights of refugees. 

Finally, I feel extremely privileged to know first-hand about the power behind the army that got us here — that army is made up of all of you, and I know with certainty that Heshima Kenya could not have grown to where we are today without your support.  There are thousands of non-profits here in Kenya and the US that are built from the bottom-up, just like Heshima Kenya.  They are simply trying to survive and will most likely not make it because they lack opportunities to connect with supporters. Yes, of course leadership and donations are critical, but without Heshima Kenya’s fundamental base of auxiliary members, I know that we would have only remained a great idea.  You are our ambassadors that drive Heshima Kenya’s story and get people to care about the thousands of vulnerable girls and young women in Nairobi who are trying to find their voice.

All the best to you,

Anne Sweeney
Executive Director
Heshima Kenya

Heshima (Swahili): Respect, Honor, Dignity

Jesus on gay marriage

What did Jesus say, if anything, about gay marriage?  A lot, and to the point, says Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

He gives His perspective on this when He addresses the issue in Matthew 19:4-6. There, speaking to the institution of marriage, Jesus is clear when He says, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

That Jesus was committed to heterosexual marriage could not be more evident. A man is to leave his parents and be joined to a woman who becomes his wife. This is heterosexual marriage.

In case you were wondering.  Akin has more on the point, including this:

We must not isolate Jesus from His affirmation of the Old Testament as the Word of God nor divorce Him from His first century Jewish context.

Read him in context to understand what he meant, that is, not to debunk it by making him simply a creature of his time.  Word to the wisdom, this.

Rahm, Jewish, trashing Christian values?

I had thought of Rahm Emanuel as Jewish once that I can remember before he joined unthinkingly in the threat to ostracize Chick-Fil-A for its executive’s public statement of Christian beliefs about marriage. It was when he was inaugurated and mention was made of his being the first Jewish mayor.

Unthinkingly, because not even in Chicago is there political capital in parading disrespect for Christian belief and he has not shown prejudice against Christians that I have ever heard of.

Anyhow, he is (slightly, cautiously) pulling back from his unthinking display of liberal allegiance, thanks no doubt to editorial objections on first-amendment grounds and presumably political advice and his own political instinct.

Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values, Emanuel said Wednesday. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values. [italics mine]

On Thursday, a spokesman for Emanuel softened those remarks.

The mayor simply said that Chick-fil-a’s CEO does not share Chicago’s values, the spokesman said. He did not say that he would block or play any role in the company opening a new restaurant here.

If they meet all the usual requirements, then they can open their restaurant, but he does not believe the CEO’s values are reflective of our city.

He’s telling us what he thinks our values are. In any case, he is or was embracing gay-rights fascism here:

Thou shall not withhold approval of the gay culture. Tolerance is not enough. You will suffer if you do not toe the line, as gays used to suffer in days when the pendulum swung the other way. Forget liberalism, substitute intolerance of another kind.


Have a look also at the New York Sun, which notes this importantly:

. . . [I]t’s hard to think of a difference between the views expressed in the quotations above by [the offending CEO] Mr. Cathy and those one might hear from the Council of Torah Sages or the Archdiocese of Chicago. Or every president of America who has spoken on the subject until President Obama changed his position and declared himself, personally if not officially, for same sex marriage.

Rahm is out of his league here.


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