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May 2, 2022, Washington, D.C. – Pope Francis’ message of the need to reach out to people on the margins is “spiritually exhilarating” to those who work directly with people suffering from poverty and marginalization. That was the perspective of Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, who, as President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, has dedicated her own life to reaching out to people in need.

Sister Donna Markham, OP

In an article in a recent issue of Our Sunday Visitor, Sister Donna said Pope Francis’ message was credible because of his own work with people in poverty. “His whole life in Latin America has put him face to face with people in abject poverty,” she told Our Sunday Visitor. “He knows how to engage with them.”

Sister Donna experienced the pope’s dedication to struggling people first-hand when, in September 2015, she accompanied him on a tour of agencies that serve people in poverty in New York and Washington, D.C. She was present for his visit to Catholic Charities, when he visited people who were homeless; for his address to the United Nations; and for his visit with immigrants at Queen of Angels School in Harlem. 

Read the article about Pope Francis and his concern for people suffering from poverty.

 

Feature photo: Pope Francis addresses dignitaries on the White House Lawn during his 2015 tour of the United States, including New York and Washington, D.C. The photo was taken by Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, who was invited to several events during the pope’s visit. Adrian Dominican Sisters File Photo


April 14, 2022, Las Vegas, Nevada – For three Adrian Dominican Sisters, the March 31, 2022, ministry talk, dinner, and Chrism Mass for the Diocese of Las Vegas was special in many ways – but in particular for its inclusiveness of Catholic laity and women religious. All who serve in the Church were invited.

In Roman Catholic tradition, the Chrism Mass features the blessing of sacred oils used by parishes – the Oil of the Sick, used in the Anointing of the Sick; the Oil of the Catechumens, used in baptism; and Chrism Oil, used both for Confirmation and for the ordination of priests. Traditionally, the Mass is celebrated on the morning of Holy Thursday in the diocese’s cathedral and representatives of parishes attend to pick up their yearly supply of oils after Mass. The oils are then presented to the parish that night during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. 

However, many dioceses – including the Diocese of Las Vegas – have begun celebrating the Chrism Mass in advance to encourage more of the priests to attend. The Chrism Mass is also considered a celebration of the anniversary of the priesthood, since Jesus instituted the Eucharist during the Last Supper – celebrated on Holy Thursday night.

Attending the dinner before the Chrism Mass for the Diocese of Las Vegas are, from left, Sister Kathleen McGrail, OP; Bishop Gerald Kicanas, retired Bishop of the Diocese of Tucson; and Sisters Mary Jean Williams, OP, and Victoria Dalesandro, OP.

Sisters Victoria Dalesandro, OP, Kathleen McGrail, OP, and Mary Jean Williams, OP, spoke about their experiences in the Diocese of Las Vegas’s ministry talk, dinner, and Chrism Mass. All have been involved in ministry at St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, founded by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and located in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada.

The Chrism Mass is “mostly a celebration of the priests and remembering the anniversary of priests,” Sister Kathleen said. However, she said, Bishop George Leo Thomas of the Diocese of Las Vegas “invited the Sisters and said [the Chrism Mass is] the renewal of all of us as ministers – Sisters, lay workers, and clergy.” 

Sister Kathleen added that she had previously attended a Chrism Mass to pick up the Oil of the Sick for the hospital, where many anointings take place. “That was a blessed moment,” she said. 

The Sisters were not only impressed with the Chrism Mass, but with the ministry talk that preceded the dinner. The talk was given by Bishop Gerald Kicanas, retired Bishop of the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona, and was presented to a diverse audience – over half of them lay people, Sister Victoria recalled. 

Sister Mary Jean recalled a poignant story shared by Bishop Kicanas in which he asked third-grade students about the most important part of a church and was told, “the exit sign.” The student explained the importance of going out of the church and into the world. “You won’t forget the message that the most important thing about a church is going out of it” to share the Gospel, Sister Mary Jean said.

Sister Kathleen said Bishop Kicanas’ message was very Dominican with its emphasis on contemplation and on preaching the Gospel. “He kept going back to his first point – to make the Word of God central to your life,” Sister Katheen said. “Regardless of who we are and our limitations, and even as undeserving as we are, we are called, chosen, loved, blessed, and sent,” she said. “It was all from the heart.”

Established in 1995, the Diocese of Las Vegas includes about 28 parishes, five missions, and a variety of ethnic communities. The diocese also has a good relationship with the Sisters and with St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, Sister Kathleen said, noting that Bishop Thomas plans to celebrate Mass at St. Rose Dominican Hospitals on June 27 to mark the 75th anniversary of the hospitals.

 

Feature photo: Bishop George Leo Thomas, Bishop of Las Vegas, is shown with, standing from left, Sisters Janet Ackerman, OP (Racine) and Kathleen McGrail, OP, and seated, from left, Sisters Mary Jean Williams, OP, and Victoria Dalesandro, OP.


 

 

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