Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.
Below are excerpts of an article written by non-Catholic Sam Miller – a prominent Cleveland Jewish businessman:
"Why would newspapers carry on a vendetta on one of the most important institutions that we have today in the United States , namely the Catholic Church?
Do you know - the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students everyday at the cost to that Church of 10 billion dollars, and a savings on the other hand to the American taxpayer of 18 billion dollars. The graduates go on to graduate studies at the rate of 92%.
The Church has 230 colleges and universities in the U.S. with an enrollment of 700,000 students.
The Catholic Church has a non-profit hospital system of 637 hospitals, which account for hospital treatment of 1 out of every 5 people - not just Catholics - in the United States today
But the press is vindictive and trying to totally denigrate in every way the Catholic Church in this country. They have blamed the disease of pedophilia on the Catholic Church, which is as irresponsible as blaming adultery on the institution of marriage.
Let me give you some figures that Catholics should know and remember. For example, 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner; 38% acknowledged other inappropriate sexual contact in a study by the United Methodist Church , 41.8% of clergy women reported unwanted sexual behavior; 17% of laywomen have been sexually harassed.
Meanwhile, 1.7% of the Catholic clergy has been found guilty of pedophilia. 10% of the Protestant ministers have been found guilty of pedophilia. This is not a Catholic Problem.
A study of American priests showed that most are happy in the priesthood and find it even better than they had expected, and that most, if given the choice, would choose to be priests again in face of all this obnoxious PR the church has been receiving.
The Catholic Church is bleeding from self-inflicted wounds. The agony that Catholics have felt and suffered is not necessarily the fault of the Church. You have been hurt by a small number of wayward priests that have probably been totally weeded out by now.
Walk with your shoulders high and your head higher. Be a proud member of the most important non-governmental agency in the United States .
Then remember what Jeremiah said: 'Stand by the roads, and look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it, and find rest for your souls'. Be proud to speak up for your faith with pride and reverence and learn what your Church does for all other religions.
Be proud that you're a Catholic."
I am so proud to be a Catholic. I was introduced to the Catholic faith in the first grade at St. Bridget's School in Indianapolis, Indiana a long, long time ago. I was not Catholic, but I watched with great envy as my friends prepared for their First Holy Communion and other special things that only Catholics could do. I have wonderful memories of the Sisters of Providence who taught us. One, Sr. Agnella, was not the nicest nun, but she and I tolerated each other. The first and second graders were in one room. In another were the third and fourth graders. Our third grade teacher is still alive and still remembers us by name! Amazing! She came to us so young and so sweet. She always had a smile and still does.
I lived with my grandmother. She made me wear snuggies - they were underwear that you wore over panties and they came down to the knees. They were made of something warm. Well, I decided I was not going to wear them all day in class, so I usually took them off and tucked them in my coat sleeve
in the cloakroom, and put them back on when school ended for the day. One day, in the early afternoon, one of those wicked boys stood in the doorway of the cloakroom waving a pair of snuggies. From the doorway he called out, "Who do these belong to?" The class burst out laughing. I was mortified. At first I was going to ignore him, but then I realized that I could not go home without those snuggies. So, I mustered up the courage and stood up and snatched them out of his hands and sailed into the cloakroom. I stayed in there as long as I could, and then I went back to my desk. I never looked at Sr. Agnella or that bad boy! Thereafter, I kept on my snuggies rather than risk him waving them like a flag!
The students attended Mass five days a week, and those who lived near a Catholic Church were expected to attend Mass on Sundays. I attended Mass six days a week - how I loved it! - and on Sundays, after Mass, my grandmother took me with her to Sunday School and church services at her Baptist church across the street from St. Bridget's. I did not understand why people in her church had to "get happy" and scream and shout and fall out. The music was loud and I was very, very unhappy, but I dared not say anything to my grandmother. In the summer we went to evening services in a tent a few blocks away. It was hot and I was miserable. I ached to be in the Catholic Church with its dim lighting, incense, the statues and, above all, the quietness. Masses were said in Latin and I knew every word of the Mass. My grandmother and I lived in one room in a rooming house one block from my school. I guess I thought I would always attend that school. But life stepped in, and my grandmother became ill. Within a very short time she died. I was ten years old and felt so alone. I had been with my grandmother every day of my life since I was born. Suddenly she was gone, and nothing would ever be the same.
My aunt and uncle where we had moved to began urging my mother to go out with some man my uncle knew. He was a strange man. He never talked to me; in fact, he never even looked at me when he came to take Mother out on a date. She had been seeing another man who drove us to Kentucky for my grandmother's funeral. I prayed that she would marry him. He was funny, loved our family, loved me, and he was a joy to be around. Eventually my mother married the other man and suddenly we moved to a house in the suburbs, far from my school and my beloved Church, and all of my friends. I was enrolled in a public school. Once a week the students in my class were taken to some church for some sort of religious instructions. When I told Mother that I did not want to go, she notified the school that I was Catholic and would not be attending those classes. My world had been turned upside down.
Our first Sunday in that strange neighborhood I thought Mother would be going to church. She began preparing an elaborate breakfast which came to be the usual Sunday breakfast - steak and gravy, potatoes, biscuits and apple sauce and/or fried apples. I was accustomed to going to church. But the family said I was too young to take two trolleys across town to go to St. Bridget's. I asked Mother if I could become a Catholic. She said, "If you still feel that way when you turn 15, then you can become a Catholic." Thereafter I went to various churches with friends, but nothing appealed to me. I knew that I had to be in some church every Sunday, and so I persevered. The day after my 15th birthday I reminded Mother of her promise, and she agreed! I was going to become a Catholic! I wanted to shout it from the tallest building in Indianapolis! I was ecstatic! Finally, I was going to be a Catholic! A few months later I was baptized and I was a proud, proud Catholic. Thereafter, every member of my family lived by the motto: "If you promise Charlene something, you have to do it because she will not forget it."
The family became proud of my Catholicism. When my uncles or aunts or my mother introduced me to someone they usually said, "This is my niece, Charlene. And she's Catholic!" The other person would look at me as if I had horns and a cloven hoof! I would smile proudly. It was hilarious! "This is my daughter. She's Catholic you know." How on earth would that person know? Such introductions just made me smile. I was the odd one in the family. I was the hatchet woman when somebody in the family had to get tough, and of course I was also a Catholic. It was said with such pride, and never failed to amaze me. How many people do you know who are introduced to someone with,"This is my daughter. She's Catholic." I loved it! I thought it odd, but loved the reaction it got.
Yes, I was Catholic and proud of it! I will never cease to be proud of being a Catholic. The sex abuse crisis got every one's attention, but I wrote to some priests in prison. I wanted to know how they were being treated. The responses were astonishing. I continued to write to them and added others as they went to prison. I have been told by many priests that my work is admirable. Of course they can't say that out loud and I understand why. Priests in prison seldom, if ever, have visits from their brother priests. I don't know of any bishops who have encouraged their priests to visit priests in prison. They are so afraid of the two vile groups, SNAP and VOTF. I love these priests that families and friends and brother priests have turned their backs on. I love them because our Lord loves them. They thank me for writing to them, for contacting their bishops when necessary or a health unit, for sending books, etc. They have enriched my life beyond belief. If I live to see Fr. Gordon MacRae freed from those stone walls, I would die happily. His was a wrongful conviction and he has served 19 years for crimes that did not happen. I firmly believe that, as do a number of his virtual parishioners. If he dies in prison, I know that his cell will become very special because a true saint lived in it. He has touched so many lives. I know what he does for others because I am his hands and feet. I read to him the touching emails from those who love him, and even from those who don't - definitely a minority. He is an amazing man. I hope that he will one day write his own story - no one else could do it justice.
Yes, we are Catholics. We should stand tall and proud! What a Holy Father we have! He is spectacular - moving quietly, not listening to anybody (if anybody dares offer him advice), and he is one of us. He is one with the people. I am so proud of him! He is extraordinary in his simpleness, in his desire to hug people, to dispense with the robes and ermine trim, and to stay in his little guest house and to eat in the dining room with others - notably not the Curia - but with the common people. Ah, I can see members of the Curia lying on the floor kicking in sheer frustration. Just wait. They haven't seen anything yet!!
My mother died in 1995 four months after I retired and moved back to Indianapolis. In her purse I found an old leather case that contained a Rosary. I had no idea that she had carried that Rosary that I left behind when I moved to New York City in 1956. I never knew. It must have meant something special to her even because it was special to me and my Catholicism. How I wished I had known.
I am a Catholic! Be proud Catholics! Hold your heads up high! Viva Cristo Rey! Viva Pope Francis!