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Catholic Relief Services Mobilizes Response to Nepal Earthquake

Damage in Swatha Square, Patan (one of the 3 districts of Kathmandu) from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal and India on April 25, 2015. Photo courtesy of Edyta Stepczak (used by permission)

Damage in Swatha Square, Patan (one of the 3 districts of Kathmandu) from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal and India on April 25, 2015. Photo courtesy of Edyta Stepczak (used by permission)

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is launching a major relief effort in response to the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday, April 24. A CRS team is on the ground in Kathmandu, the capital city and one of the most affected areas, and our local partner Caritas Nepal has started distributing food and shelter.

The initial targets of CRS aid will be the thousands in need of shelter. Many buildings were destroyed or damaged in the 7.8 magnitude quake, and continuing aftershocks are causing widespread fear of sleeping inside of even intact buildings.

“Rainfall last night made life difficult for those remaining outside,” said CRS India staffer Kushal Neogy, who was in Nepal during the earthquake. “Thankfully the rain stopped around 11 p.m. and people were able to sleep peacefully through the night as there were no major tremors. “The morning started with a bright sunny day, but occasional rain is predicted today and tonight with strong winds as well,” he added.

Working with Caritas Nepal, CRS’ initial goal is to help 10,000 families with emergency shelter, blankets, water treatment kits, and hygiene kits. Given the scale of the disaster, the number receiving help is expected to rise as our staff and partners are able to better assess the situation, coordinate our response with other agencies and procure additional supplies.

As this region, including northern India, is known for earthquakes, CRS had prepositioned stocks of emergency aid in nearby Bihar, India. These supplies — temporary shelter kits (tarpaulins, mats, rope), water purification kits and hygiene kits for 2,000 families – are being transported to Nepal for immediate distribution. Teams are also purchasing and transporting other critical relief items from India to transport into Nepal since most markets in Kathmandu remain closed.

An additional 3,000 tarpaulins will be flown from a hub in Dubai for distribution within the next couple days. More emergency personnel are on the way.

Catholic Relief Services has made an initial commitment of $825,000 to relief efforts in Nepal, a figure that is expected to rise as the needs become clearer. The official death toll is approaching 4,000 – with thousands more injured — but few outlying villages have been reached and widespread destruction, especially in hillside settlements, is feared.

Donate Online:

donate.crs.org/Nepal

Donate by Mail:

Mail checks to

P.O. Box 17090

Baltimore, MD 21297-0303

Please write “Nepal Earthquake” on the memo line

Donate by Phone:

Call 877-HelpCRS to make a credit card donation to CRS over the phone

Pope Francis names Very Rev. Edward Malesic Bishop of Greensburg

Bishop-elect Edward C. Malesic

Bishop-elect Edward C. Malesic

GREENSBURG — Pope Francis has appointed Very Rev. Father Edward C. Malesic, J.C.L., judicial vicar of the Diocese of Harrisburg and pastor of Holy Infant Parish, York Haven, bishop of the Diocese of Greensburg and accepted the resignation of Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt, 76, from pastoral governance of the diocese.

The appointment was announced at 6 a.m., EDT, at the Vatican.

Bishop-elect Malesic, 54, will be introduced at a media conference later this morning.

Bishop-elect Malesic was born Aug. 14, 1960, in Harrisburg to Joseph A. and the late Elizabeth Schatt Malesic. One of four siblings, he was raised in Enhaut, which is just outside of Harrisburg.

He received the sacraments of initiation at his hometown parish, the former St. John the Evangelist Parish.

A 1978 graduate of Central Dauphin East High School, Harrisburg, Bishop-elect Malesic attended Lebanon Valley College, Annville, as a biology major for three years before entering the seminary.

In 1981, he was accepted into the seminary program at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy in 1983. He continued his theological studies and formation at the Josephinum where he received the master of divinity degree in 1987.

He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop William H. Keeler May 30, 1987, at St. Patrick Cathedral, Harrisburg.

Bishop-elect Malesic served in various pastoral assignments in the Diocese of Harrisburg. He was assistant pastor of St. Theresa Parish, New Cumberland (1987-89) and St. Rose of Lima Parish, York (1989-92), and while in York he served as the Catholic campus minister of York College of Pennsylvania. He was appointed to full-time campus ministry in 1992 and served four years at Millersville University. In 1993, he also was appointed to campus ministry at Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster. He also served the spiritual needs of students at Messiah College, Dillsburg, from 2000 to 2004.

In 1996, he began canon law studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, receiving his licentiate in canon law in 1998. He served the Diocese of Harrisburg’s Tribunal in various capacities until he was appointed judicial vicar in 2006.

In 2004, Bishop-elect Malesic was appointed to Holy Infant Parish as administrator and later as pastor. There, he helped launch the relocation and construction of a new church and parish center, which is scheduled for completion in 2016.

Bishop-elect Malesic has served on several boards, committees and organizations in the Diocese of Harrisburg including the diocesan Presbyteral Council and College of Consultors, Hospice of Central Pennsylvania, and the Youth Protection Committee of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC).

The ordination and installation Mass for Bishop-elect Malesic will be celebrated July 13 at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, Greensburg.  The time and other details will be announced later.

 

Click here to read a statement from Archbishop Charles Chaput.

Check the website of the Diocese of Greensburg for more information.

Support House Bill 857: Children’s Insurance Extension

CHIP-within_reach_billboardweb1The Pennsylvania Catholic Health Association (PCHA) and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) support House Bill 857, which extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through December 31, 2017.

PCHA and PCC have supported the CHIP program since its inception in 1992.  Thanks to this program, more than 150,000 of the Commonwealth’s children are covered by CHIP. If it is not reauthorized, CHIP will expire on December 31, 2015 and leave these children without medical insurance. CHIP is critical so that children continue to have access to vital health care services they would not otherwise be able to afford. 

Insurance coverage is essential for families to get appropriate and necessary health care for their children. The impact is plain and simple – having insurance improves health outcomes of children. Furthermore, children who have health insurance generally have a relationship with a primary care physician. And, families with coverage are less likely to use costly emergency room services for common childhood ailments. Health care coverage is strongly linked to academic success as well.  Pennsylvania’s children deserve to lead healthy, successful lives.

It is important not to reverse the progress that Pennsylvania has made through the CHIP program, and therefore the PCHA and PCC support reauthorization of CHIP through 2017, as provided by House Bill 857, to ensure that Pennsylvania’s children will have access to health care coverage through this critical safety-net program.

Over 2 Million Background Checks

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Watch this video to learn more about how the Catholic Church is working to protect children.

Religious Liberty Under Attack in the Nation’s Capital

Congress Should Stop DC Council’s “Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act” (RHNDA) and “Human Rights Amendment Act” (HRAA). Our help is needed to stop two dangerous pieces of legislation recently passed by the Council of the District of Columbia and signed by the mayor. These acts, RHNDA and HRAA, are subject to disapproval by Congress.  On March 6, 2015 the DC government forwarded these laws to Congress, which has 30 legislative days to pass resolutions of disapproval; after this time other avenues might be able to block the laws’ implementation.

These laws “violate the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of association protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, as well as by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and other federal laws,” according to letters sent to House and Senate on March 20 by the Archbishop of Washington along with the chairmen of five committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Congress should be urged to block these laws.

Click here to send a message today!

Parish Youth Groups Give Teens Opportunities to Explore Faith through Service

Pennsylvania Catholic
Pennsylvania Catholic

Teens in St. Gregory’s youth group ready to serve a meal to those in need in South Side, Pittsburgh.

Church youth groups provide a safe place where teens can explore their faith, learn from each other and help the greater community. High school students at St. Gregory Byzantine Church in Upper St. Clair, a parish of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, come together each week and put their faith in action through service to the community.

“For today’s teenagers, life in high school is hard.  Thanks to electronics and the internet, they have access to so many pressures, messages and distractions,” said Father Valerian Michlik of St. Gregory Byzantine Catholic Church. “Our youth group provides teens an opportunity to get away from those distractions and actively participate in their community by getting to know and help others they may not otherwise meet.”

On a regular basis, the teens prepare and serve food to those in need in the South Side of Pittsburgh.  After the meal, the teens sit and talk with those they served. This fellowship and dialogue is as important as the meal itself.

The youth group at St. Gregory’s offer an example of faith in action, “If they chose to, these teenagers could easily go their whole lives without seeing poverty. But here they face it head on and look for ways to help. The youth group shows us that what we do outside of the church doors is crucially important. They remind me of Pope Francis’s example of serving the entire community, regardless of faith,” said Father Valerian.

Throughout the year, the youth group also collects clothing and toiletries for women at the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, a resource for victims of domestic violence and their children. The teens also collect school supplies and clothing for the Southwood Residential Treatment Facility for young men.

The youth group at St. Gregory parish not only serves the homeless, but also the homebound.  They assemble Easter baskets and write holiday cards to shut-ins and nursing home residents of their community. The group heard from one elderly man after he received a Valentine ’s Day card who said it was the first card he’d received in decades. He was moved to tears by the group’s kindness and service.

The youth group at St. Gregory Byzantine Church in Upper St. Clair is just one example of these groups at the more than 1,000 Catholic parishes across the state.

Support HB 752

The longstanding EITC program has awarded over 450,000 scholarships to since its inception, allowing students to attend the school of their choice. The three-year-old OSTC program helps thousands more by giving special scholarships particularly for income eligible students who live in communities with the lowest performing public schools. Send a message to your legislators in support of HB 752 by clicking here.
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The High Return on Education Tax Credits

sacredheart raised handSavvy investors do their homework. Before buying stock they will research a company’s track record. Is the company making sales? Expanding its market? Are customers satisfied? It is smart to invest in proven success.

Providing a quality education for our children is the most critical investment we can make for our future. As Pennsylvania’s lawmakers debate and discuss the spending plan for the Commonwealth’s 2015-2016 fiscal year, they will have to consider where to put our money.

The Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) are two programs proven worthy of investment.

Both programs are funded by companies that contribute to scholarship organizations in exchange for a tax credit. The longstanding EITC program has given more than 450,000 scholarships to help students attend the school of their choice, including Catholic schools. The three-year-old OSTC program has given nearly 9,000 more special scholarships, particularly for income eligible students who live in communities with the lowest performing public schools.

EITC tax credits are often depleted on the first day of their availability. OSTC credits are also exhausted, and every scholarship organization has a waiting list of potential scholarship recipients. The need for more credits, to help more parents pick the best school for their children, is evident. Demand is strong.

Representative Jim Christiana (R-Beaver, Washington) is the prime sponsor of House Bill 752 which would increase the EITC to $170 million and OSTC to $80 million. “Both the EITC and OSTC programs are very successful programs that have given thousands of Pennsylvania children school choice and the opportunity to participate in innovative educational programs,” he wrote in his memo encouraging other representatives to cosponsor the bill. “By expanding the EITC and OSTC programs, my bill will allow even more children to benefit.”

There is strong bipartisan support for expanding EITC and OSTC.

“Particularly in failing public school districts, young men and women need to have the exact same opportunities (as any student),” Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) told students at Philadelphia’s De Paul Catholic School. “We are convinced that the EITC and OSTC are making a difference.” Turzai is a cosponsor of HB 752 and a champion of the school choice provided through the tax credits.

Senator Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), Democratic Leader, called the expansion of the tax credit programs a “win-win.” At a luncheon in Pittsburgh he told EITC supporters, “This is more of a program to benefit students and the business community. It’s not full-blown school choice. It’s providing options and programs for some students.”

A generation of students who went to the school of their choice with EITC scholarships have demonstrated its successful track record. Catholic schools are the largest group of non-public schools in Pennsylvania. Most Catholic high schools boast graduation rates at or near 100%. Of those graduates, over 90% go on to attend either a two or four-year institute of higher learning. OSTC scholarship students will soon live up to their peers. These “customers” – our students and their parents – are indeed satisfied.

All parents should be able to choose a school that best suits their children. Financial realities often preclude parents from having that choice. Parents who pay their school taxes deserve some benefit from those taxes, in the form of some assistance in the exercise of their right to choose a nonpublic school, if that is best for their children. EITC and OSTC are making a difference for many families and for our communities. It is a smart investment to allow more to have that choice.

Urge your legislator to “invest in success” by cosponsoring and voting in favor of House Bill 752. Use the Pennsylvania Catholic Advocacy Network at to send your message today.

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APRIL 2015 column of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference – the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania. Stay up-to-date with Catholic news and issues at pacatholic.org, www.facebook.com/pacatholic, andwww.twitter.com/pacatholic.

House Bill 262: Protecting Sex Trafficking Victims

HB 262 aims to better protect potential sex trafficking victims by regulating adult-oriented establishments and training law enforcement. Many victims may start off dancing or stripping in clubs, but then are coerced into prostitution or pornography. This bill prevents individuals convicted of prostitution or child exploitation crimes from owning or working in such a place. Read Full Bill