Amid controversy, Obama gives speech on dialogue, ‘open minds’

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (CNS) — President Barack Obama took on the controversy swirling around his commencement address May 17 at the University of Notre Dame, urging those bitterly divided over abortion and other issues to adopt an approach of mutual respect and dialogue.

“Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words. It’s a way of life that has always been the Notre Dame tradition,” Obama said, positioning dialogue as the hope for solutions to enormous modern problems.

Obama listed war, gay rights and embryonic stem-cell research among difficult issues that demand dialogue, but he spent the bulk of his talk on the abortion issue.

“We must find a way to live together as one human family. Moreover, no one person, or religion, or nation can meet these challenges alone. Our very survival has never required greater cooperation and understanding among all people from all places than at this moment in history.”

St. Louisans make pilgrimage to ND

Nearly 100 people travelling from the St. Louis Archdiocese were among those who protested Notre Dame University’s decision to invite President Barack Obama to speak at the university’s commencement ceremony and receive an honorary degree.

The pilgrimage from St. Louis to South Bend, Ind., included Catholics from Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. They ranged in age from 4 to 85.

Archdiocesan parishes represented on the trip included St. Gerard Majella in Kirkwood, Most Sacred Heart in Eureka, St. Bridget in Pacific, Holy Infant in Ballwin, Annunciation in Webster Groves, St. Joseph in Manchester, St. John the Baptist in South St. Louis, St. Alban Roe in Wildwood, and St. Clare of Assisi in Ellisville.

The pilgrims left on the morning of May 16, and returned the evening of May 17, according to John Ryan, co-chair of the pro-life committee at Sacred Heart Parish.

They participated in eucharistic adoration with Bishop John M. D’Arcy at the Alumni Hall Chapel and an outdoor Mass and rally on the South Quad of the Notre Dame campus. The group also joined others in praying the Rosary at the grotto as part of an all-night vigil on campus.

Bp. D’Arcy ‘not giving up’ on Notre Dame

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (CNS) — Bishop John M. D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend made it clear May 16 that even though he would not attend the university’s commencement ceremony the next day, he was not giving up on Notre Dame.

“It remains a privilege to be associated here with you,” he told graduating seniors during the 25th baccalaureate Mass celebrated at the University of Notre Dame’s Joyce Center.

Bishop D’Arcy was encouraged by the actions of a coalition of pro-life students known as Notre Dame Response in the weeks following the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Barack Obama to be the commencement speaker and to receive an honorary degree.

Bishop D’Arcy, whose diocese includes Notre Dame, and many other U.S. bishops and cardinals, objected to the choice of Obama because he supports legal abortion and embryonic stem-cell research.

Obama proposal seen as beginning of end for school voucher program

WASHINGTON (CNS) — President Barack Obama’s May 6 budget proposal to allow 1,700 poor children in the District of Columbia to keep their federally funded scholarships but bar any more students from entering the program means a slow death for an initiative that works, said a Washington archdiocesan official.

“This proposal might help children who are now in the program,” said Patricia Weitzel-O’Neill, superintendent for schools. “But what about the many other children in the city who will never have this opportunity?”

She was referring to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, a federally-funded voucher program launched as a pilot program five years ago that has to be reauthorized by Congress.

It allocates $14 million annually in individual scholarships of up to $7,500 to 1,700 children from low-income families, which allows them to attend private schools in the District of Columbia. About half of the scholarship recipients attend Catholic schools.

The announcement of the president’s proposal came the same day that nearly 2,000 students, parents and other community members converged on Freedom Plaza in Washington for a rally to urge elected officials to keep the program intact.

Area high schools hold graduations this month

3,416 seniors will graduate from 28 Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Archdiocesan High Schools — graduating 1,145:

Bishop DuBourg — 7  p.m. May 20, Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, 165 graduating

Cardinal Ritter College Prep — 7 p.m. May 21, school gym, 94 graduating

Duchesne— 7:30 p.m. May 21, school multipurpose building, 156 graduating

Four Aquinas seminarians to be ordained May 10

Four seminarians at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis will be ordained during Mass at St. Francis Xavier (College Church) Parish, Grand and Lindell Boulevards, at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 10.

Dominican Brother Andrew McAlpin, a 2008 graduate of Aquinas Institute, will be ordained to the priesthood for the Order of Preachers (Dominicans). 

Four seminarians, including Florissant native Brother Michail Ford, will be ordained transitional deacons.

The other two to be ordained deacons are Dominican Brother Patrick Tobin, and Resurrectionist Brother Eric Wagner.

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