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Church Clips by Dolores Madlener

Dolores Madlenera column of benevolent gossip

  • Saints in the air —

    November is almost gone, but saints are everywhere all the time. They inspire — light our lives. What about our youngsters? Outside of the name they choose for confirmation, (“No, you can’t pick ‘Ashlee’”), do they come home in those primary grades breathless about the Lily of the Mohawks or Peter Claver? There are at least four “Little Books of Saints” each 20 pages — each story one page with a side-by picture page. They are perfect for 8- or 9-year-olds, or to be read to younger kids. Price: $4.95 each. Pauline Books & Media also has “Holy Friends: 30 Saints and Blesseds of the Americas” for junior high. Call (312) 346- 4228 or go to, for beautiful Christmas stories, CDs and other gifts.
  • People and places —

    Ed Wall, former editor of The Chicago Catholic, parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi (Orland Park), e-mails Clips: “I’ve started reading Cardinal George’s book [“The Difference God Makes”], and enjoying it. In some respects it is like an adult refresher course in what it means to be a Catholic.” . . . Father Benedykt Pazdan, at St. John the Evangelist Parish (Streamwood), has teamed up with buddies Father Brian Barker and Alex Fisher from the Belleville Diocese on a CD of English and Polish Christmas carols accompanied with guitars and piano. “Noel” is $15 and yes, people can call Father Pazdan at (630) 837-6500, Ext. 42, to order it.
  • Goin’ strong —

    St. Angela Church, on the West Side, closed four years ago. Yet St. Angela School is alive and well. For the past three years, enrollment has increased and two new classrooms have opened to match the growth. A Brunch of Hope reunion Oct. 25 to spread the good news, surprised everybody. The Drury Lane event boasted 485 alumni, former parishioners and staff from as far away as Miami, Omaha and Colorado Springs. Among other awards, Msgr. Ken Velo presented the Angelus Award posthumously to alum Marty Jordan, 45. Jordan, a social worker, husband, father of four and hero, drowned while successfully saving five children from a Lake Michigan undertow last August. His spirit exemplifies his alma mater. Originally staffed by Sisters of Providence, eight Sisters of Mercy, with Mercy Sister Mary Finnegan as principal, have guided the school since 1983. The reunion’s goal was to celebrate St. Angela’s past and present — it will also ensure its future.
  • God is love —

    Franciscan Father Hans Stapel, co-founder with Nelson Giovanelli of Farms of Hope (Fazenda da Esperanza), spoke Nov. 8 at the Focolare Center in Hyde Park. Stapel is one of the recent Opus prize-winners chosen by the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. His accomplishment? Establishing 63 communities in 10 countries (from Mexico to Russia) to help rebuild the lives of young people with drug or alcohol addictions. (Pope Benedict visited one of the centers in Brazil in 2007, blessing the work.) Addicts live 12-in-a-cottage for a year, guided by two persons in recovery. Each farm has a priest chaplain. More than 10,000 people have participated in the program since 1983, with 80 percent avoiding further drug use. Parents are included in the progress, and “graduates” meet together for support after they leave. Stapel says each day the residents: 1. Put the Gospel into practice and share the stories it generates (“Jesus grows, making new men and women”), 2. Work at farming or other chores, and 3. Live like a family. “The plan is simple,” he says. “when things are complicated it doesn’t come from God.” Simplicity — a mark of St. Francis and “God is love,” the core of Focolare spirituality. There’s a chance someone may donate land for a Farm of Hope in the USA. Say a prayer.
  • Still life Christmas —

    So far we’ve heard of two local Catholic sites doing live, outdoor Christmas tableaux: Franciscan (retirement) Village in Lemont, from 5-7 p.m. and 7:30-9 p.m. Dec. 17-20, with Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, Three Kings, Shepherds, and live animals including a little camel, (630) 243-3500. Also on the grounds of St. Patrick Church, at 950 W. Everett, in Lake Forest, 5 p.m. Dec. 19, with youngsters aged 5 through teens, and live animals, (847) 361-3224. Let Clips know if there are other outdoor tableaux and we’ll publicize.