Patricia Rice

Patricia Rice is a freelance writer based in St. Louis who has covered religion for many years. She also writes about cultural issues, including opera.

Pope Francis meets with four representatives of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the Vatican April 16.
Vatican

Pope Francis gave his blessing Thursday to a leadership network of Catholic nuns closing early what was set up as a four-year investigation.

The pope didn’t say “go forth and sin no more.” The message was more like keep up your good work, but tip toe around some flaky-‘60s style programing at your annual meetings. He encouraged their missions:  Keep helping the poor, the sick, children, youth and the marginalized.

star of david
Alex Proimos | Flickr | Detail of image

The area’s Jewish population is up 14 percent since 1995 to an estimated 61,000 people. Households with at least one adult Jew have increased 34 percent for a count of 32,900, according to an in depth survey commissioned by the Jewish Federation of St. Louis.

On Wednesday night, federation leaders announced findings from a survey of more than 1,000 St. Louis Jewish households that they called “a snapshot” of the Jewish community and how it “engages Jewishly.” The margin for error in this size study is plus or minus 4.5 percent.

Father Fernand Cheri III
Frank Methe Jr. | Clarion | Catholic News Agency

Pope Francis has many East St. Louis and Belleville Catholics smiling today. A few yelped with joy. The pope has named their beloved “Father Ferd” — the Franciscan friar Fernand Cheri III — a bishop for the New Orleans Diocese.

Cheri, 62, lived in East St. Louis from 2002 to 2009, serving at St. Augustine Parish in East St. Louis and as a counselor at Althoff High School in Belleville. He directed dynamic youth gospel choirs at both the high school and the parish.

The high average age of U.S. nuns was a concern expressed in the report.
Manu Gomez | Flickr

The Vatican gave U.S. Catholic sisters what seems to be a joyfully grateful Christmas card Tuesday morning. The long-awaited report by the Vatican department that oversees women and men religious was a benediction.

It said the Vatican is “committed to collaborate in the realization of Pope Francis’ resolve that the ‘feminine genius’ find expression where important church decisions are made.”

The show at the Mercantile Library has so many elements, some are on the floor.
Facebook post

To celebrate a major birthday — say, 50 or older — many hosts serve cake and display photos of the celebrant: baby photos, first steps, awkward adolescence, coming of age and major landmarks of adulthood.

For St. Louis’ 250th birthday celebration, John Neal Hoover has done just that. At the Mercantile Library’s new exhibition, Hoover hung several century-old photos, older paintings and drawings, but mostly he tells the city history in maps.

Paintings portrayed by, from left, Daniel Brevik, Tobias Greenhalgh, and Theo Lebow; at center is Stephanie Blythe as Gertrude Stein and Elizabeth Futral as Alice B. Toklas
Ken Howard | OTSL

In a year when opera companies nationwide still struggle with the effects of the Great Recession, and sadly the venerable once-innovative New York City Opera closed, St. Louis continues to support three professional opera companies.

Tom Cummins
Provided by Criminal Justice Ministry

When volunteer prison chaplain Tom Cummins knocks on the door of a prison cell, the inmate’s voice is nearly always welcoming, sometimes delighted.

“I deal almost exclusively with those in isolation,” he said. “The guys know what society thinks of them. They are part of the throwaway society like papers tossed aside, abandoned, out-of-mind, in prisons that are hidden in the country, off a side road. When anyone treats them like a child of God, they flourish. A chaplain can help bring them back to a sense of being part of a whole community.”

The Rev. Dietra Wise Baker
Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

First of a two-part series.

Prison chaplains wear hope on their sleeves. Many talk about ex-prisoners who transform their lives in prison and, after release, become contributing citizens and good parents.

One of the chaplains, the Rev. Dietra Wise Baker said that most judges and others who work in the justice and corrections systems are “loving,” but the system is flawed.

Archbishop Robert Carlson
Bill Raack | St. Louis Public Radio file photo

St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson announced Tuesday the suspension of retired priest John J. Ghio because of a recently reported allegation of abuse -- allegedly in the early 1980s.

In a letter to parishes of the Archdiocese, Carlson said:

“Having consulted with the Promoter of Justice, the Vicar for Priests, and the Review Board of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and to ensure the integrity of the process, I have suspended Father Ghio’s priestly faculties until a canonical process is concluded.”

The Rev. Sean Martin
Provided by Aquinas

Today, for the first time in the 88 years since the Dominican friars founded Aquinas Institute of Theology, a scholar and priest who is not a Dominican becomes its president.

Father Seán Charles Martin is the new Aquinas president.

“It is a big step for us because in our long history we have always had a Dominican,” the Very Rev Charles Bouchard said. He's the Dominican provincial, its elected leader, over 14 states from Michigan to New Mexico, who made today’s announcement in Chicago.

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