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April 19, 2007 Edition

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Inspire by example: The power of volunteers

What would we do without volunteers? I'm not sure if our society could function without them. Volunteers visit the sick in hospitals, serve food and wash dishes at community meal programs, and tutor children in schools. Retired doctors and nurses volunteer their services at free clinics both in our communities and in foreign countries.

The Catholic Church also relies on volunteers. They are readers, extraordinary ministers of Communion, servers, ushers, choir members, and help in many other liturgical roles. They bring Communion to people in hospitals and nursing homes and to shut-ins.

Our church volunteers offer rides and help with shopping. They cook food for meal programs. They reach out to the poor and the lonely. They serve as catechists and youth ministers, as well as volunteers in our Catholic schools.

National Volunteer Week. This week - April 15 to 21 - is National Volunteer Week. It was created in 1974 when President Richard Nixon signed an executive order to establish the week as an annual celebration of volunteering. And every year since, each U.S. president, along with many governors, mayors, and other elected officials, has signed a proclamation promoting this week.

This special week offers opportunities to thank some of America's most valuable assets - our volunteers - and to recognize the myriad of ways they improve our communities, says information on the Web site, www.pointsoflight.org, which sponsors this observance.

This year's theme is "Inspire by Example!" "Volunteers both encourage those they help and motivate others to serve," say the week's promotional materials.

Inspired by faith. As Catholics, we are also inspired to volunteer by our faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that the works of mercy are "charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity. It is also a work of justice pleasing to God (CCC, 2447)."

It seems appropriate that National Volunteer Week comes after Easter. As followers of Jesus and recipients of his loving mercy, we, too, are empowered to go forth and show love and mercy to others.

During this week, we should salute all volunteers in our churches and communities. Give a personal "thank you" to volunteers you know. Also celebrate volunteers by joining them. I encourage you to find opportunities in your parish or community to lend a helping hand. You'll be glad you did!

For information about National Volunteer Week, go to www.pointsoflight.org/programs/seasons/nvw/ or call 1-800-VOLUNTEER to find out about volunteer opportunities.

Mary C. Uhler

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Mailbag policy
We reserve the right to edit or reject letters. Limit letters to 200 words or less. All letters must be signed. Please include your city or town of residence.

Send letters to:
The Catholic Herald
P.O. Box 44985
Madison, WI 53744-4985

Fax: 608-821-3071
E-mail: info@madisoncatholicherald.org

Governor Doyle turns down abstinence education funds

To the editor:

Last month the Wisconsin State Journal reported that Governor Doyle turned down $600,000 in federal abstinence education money. The money comes with a requirement to teach that sexual activity outside of marriage "could have harmful physical and psychological effects."

Wouldn't Governor Doyle want to help young people "avoid harmful physical and psychological effects"? But instead he said "no," not only to federal money, but he said "no" to a generation of young people here in Wisconsin. He said "no" to teaching our young people to make decisions that will positively impact the rest of their lives.

He said "no" to giving our young people the tools to avoid the sexually transmitted diseases that come from casual sex even if condoms are used. He said "no" to helping our young people avoid unwanted pregnancies and avoid the emotional pain that comes if they choose an abortion.

On top of all of that, it was reported recently that Governor Doyle now wants to have Planned Parenthood giving birth control to boys as young as 15-years-old (Medicaid Family Planning Waiver). All of this would be done without the parents being notified. It seems that Governor Doyle knows no bounds in promoting promiscuity and in hurting our young people.

Greg Wagner, Middleton

Ad in paper shows hypocrisy

To the editor:

The hypocrisy of the Catholic Church stuck out like a sore thumb in the March 29 issue of the Catholic Herald. Within this issue is an advertisement for Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Linda Clifford along with an article on both Supreme Court candidates [print edition only] in which Clifford is described as liberal and endorsed by Planned Parenthood.

A quote in the article from Planned Parenthood's Web site states "Wisconsin Supreme Court is an important body that could decide the future of women's access to reproductive healthcare, including legal abortion services . . . Vote for the candidate that supports women's access to reproductive healthcare: Linda Clifford."

Linda Clifford's Web site does not specifically state that she is pro-abortion, but it is obviously clear that Planned Parenthood knows she is. Shame on you! We see article after article in the Catholic Herald on the sanctity of life and then along comes an advertisement for a pro-abortion Supreme Court candidate. Nothing could be more hypocritical.

Paul A. Richgels, DeForest

Editor's note: The Catholic Herald follows the Wisconsin Catholic Conference policy on political advertising. As disclaimers in the March 29 issue indicated, the acceptance of political advertising by the Catholic Herald is done as a public service. It is not intended to represent any endorsement of the candidates or their views.

Define doctrine to plug loopholes

To the editor:

After reading the article "Doctrine Committee: Gives corrections on Daniel Maguire's views" (Catholic Herald, March 29, 2007 [print edition only]) I believe that the time has arrived for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to exercise the provisions of the documents of the First Vatican Council by defining infallibly the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church on contraception, abortion, euthanasia, stem-cell research, and same sex marriage. Once and for all loopholes utilized by maverick theologians need to be plugged by infallible definitions thereby terminating heretical quibblings and ramblings.

The provisions of the documents of the First Vatican Council were intended to squelch heretical pronouncements and teachings. Why not exercise the documents of the First Vatican Council as was intended? Otherwise the heretical statements and teachings will continue on and on. None of the current existing documents meet the requirements of the documents of the First Vatican Council.

Charles Sippel, Waterloo

Should safeguard children

To the editor:

Thank you and Rachael Miller Crigler for the article on safeguarding children (March 22, 2007). I hope the Catholic Herald will be a leader in following the suggestions in the article regarding NOT publishing the children's names: "Photos published in local newspapers should also not directly correlate the name with students identified in the pictures."

In the same edition, 11 children were identified by name and location. Let's be the example of how we can acknowledge children and the contributions they make without endangering them by publishing too much personal information.

Janet Kolman, Our Lady of the Assumption Child Care director, Beloit

Editor's note: The Catholic Herald does not put full names of children on its Web site. However, names of children are used in the print edition as submitted by schools, parishes, and families. We will continue to explore this issue to determine what is best for all involved.

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Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
Offices: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Road, Madison
Mailing address: P.O. Box 44985, Madison, WI 53744-4985
Phone: 608-821-3070     Fax: 608-821-3071     E-Mail: info@madisoncatholicherald.org