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Roman Catholic Church

Reverend Elsie McGrath, photographed in her home on November 14, 2019, said becoming an ordained Catholic priest was "a monumental step forward in educating people about what the church really ought to be."
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Elsie McGrath never thought of herself as a rulebreaker. 

But in 2007, she broke one of the most fundamental rules in Roman Catholicism when she became an ordained priest. 

She was later excommunicated, along with fellow priest Rose Marie Hudson and Bishop Patricia Fresen, who ordained the two.

Women are barred from joining the Roman Catholic clergy, but McGrath is hopeful that will change. Last month, Pope Francis caused a stir when he said the Vatican would explore the possibility of female deacons, a class of ministry allowed to oversee weddings and baptisms but not provide Communion.

"Michelangelo, God's Architect: The Story of His Final Years and Greatest Masterpiece" will be published on Nov. 19, 2019.
EMILY WOODBURY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Most people are knowledgeable about the early accomplishments of Michelangelo, like his work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in his 30s. But the artist and architect worked well into his 80s, at a time when the average life expectancy was about 40 to 45 years. In fact, he was still carving sculptures four days before he died.

Cathedral Basilica
(via Flickr/kat93117)

Attorney General Eric Schmitt will refer 12 cases of Catholic Church sexual abuse allegations to local prosecutors after reviewing 2,300 personnel records of priests, deacons, seminarians and nuns provided by Missouri’s four Catholic dioceses over the past year. 

Overall, Schmitt said his office found 163 priests and other clergy members had been accused of sexual misconduct involving minors in Missouri since 1945. In some cases, they were accused of abuse multiple times and by multiple people. 

In August 1992, Monsignor Joseph R. Schwaegel of St. Peter's Cathedral in Belleville sang the National Anthem before the Cardinals game.
Belleville News-Democrat

Catholic church leaders in the Belleville Diocese promoted a priest they knew as a danger to children until he was in charge of their largest parish and its grade school, where he is accused of sexually abusing students, according to a civil suit filed earlier this month.

Joseph Schwaegel, who was first accused of child sexual abuse in a 1999 lawsuit, has been named in a new complaint filed against the diocese July 19 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Provided | Diocese of Springfield in Illinois

Catholics in Quincy will come together Saturday to commemorate the 122nd anniversary of Father Augustine Tolton’s death. He is widely regarded as the nation’s first black priest. 

A mile-long pilgrimage procession will start near the statue of Father Tolton outside of St. Peter Catholic School.

Father Daren Zehnle, with the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, said the pilgrimage recognizes a man who lived by the Bible’s example.

During a four-day conference at Fontbonne University religious sisters under the age of 50, gathered to discuss ways to live boldly in their faith, combat social justice issues and bridge the gap between generations. June 2019
Giving Voices

Giving Voice, a peer-led national organization for nuns and religious sisters under the age of 50, convened for a four-day conference to build bridges between religious life and social justice issues. 

Eighty of the group’s sisters from around the country and other nations worked together at Fontbonne University to push for change within the church and create a cross-generational culture of community and growth.

Belleville Diocese Waiting To See If Pope Accepts Resignation Of Controversial Bishop

Jun 26, 2019
Bishop Edward K. Braxton initiated the practice of holding a Red Mass each fall to mark the start of the U.S. Supreme Court session. He's shown here in 2016 at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Belleville.
Derik Holtmann | Belleville News Democrat

Bishop Edward K. Braxton turns 75 on Friday, prompting supporters and critics to wonder how much longer he will be leading the Catholic Diocese of Belleville.

Canon law requires bishops to submit resignations at age 75, but it’s up to Pope Francis whether to accept them.

“The ministry of a bishop in a diocese requires a total commitment of energy, and anything, including age, that decreases the ability to dedicate oneself fully to serving the church and the faithful is the reason that retirements are offered at 75,” said Monsignor John T. Myler, diocesan spokesman and rector at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Belleville.

Catholic Diocese of Belleville Deacon Coordinator Robert Lanter was arraigned on a sex charge on Friday. April 26, 2019
St. Clair County State's Attorney's Office

The Deacon Coordinator for the Catholic Diocese of Belleville was arraigned Friday on criminal sexual assault charges.

A grand jury indicted Robert Lanter, of Swansea, on April 12. Lanter entered a plea of not guilty Friday.

The charges state the victim was a 29-year-old woman who could not give consent.

Members of IN UNISON Chorus rehearse for a recent concert. Charter member Gwendolyn Wesley is seen, bottom center.  2/28/19
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Symphony formed IN UNISON Chorus for a 1994 concert meant to help bridge the black church and the overwhelmingly white world of classical music. Twenty-five years later, the chorus is still singing. Each season it plays two concerts at Powell Hall with the orchestra, plus one a cappella performance and occasional guest appearances, like at the annual season-opening concert at Forest Park.

The chorus specializes in music by African-Americans, from 19th-century spirituals arranged for 120-voice chorus to contemporary gospel and pieces by black composers. The melding of black-American and European classical styles is heard vividly in the finale of the chorus’s February concert, the pathbreaking “Gospel Mass” by IN UNISON’s founding director, Robert Ray.

IN UNISON Chorus rehearsing at Powell Hall. Charter member Gwendolyn Wesley, lower left. 2/22/19
Jeremy D. Goodwin | St. Louis Public Radio

As St. Louis Symphony Orchestra musicians file into the Powell Hall stage door facing Delmar Boulevard, they’re striding along the boundary that divides a segregated city.

With IN UNISON Chorus, orchestra leaders made an effort in 1994 to bridge that divide and welcome more African-Americans into the predominantly white world of European classical music.

The St. Louis Symphony appears to be the only American orchestra to maintain a second full-sized chorus dedicated to music by African-American and African composers. Its members largely come from about three dozen black churches in and around St. Louis, where SLSO orchestra members also perform recitals throughout the year.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says Illinois six Roman Catholic dioceses failed to disclose at least 500 sexual abuse cases involving priests. That’s one of the first findings the office has released so far in its ongoing investigation of the dioceses.


Catholic priests during an ordination ceremony at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis in May, 2016.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

A Catholic order has released the names of dozens of priests once accused of sexual abuse, including 17 who worked in St. Louis-area parochial schools and parishes.

Twelve priests on the list worked at St. Louis University High School and several others taught at other St. Louis-area parochial schools.

All were found to have "credible allegations" of sexual abuse made against them, according to the Central and Southern Province and the Western Province of Jesuits.

Stephen Werner joined host Don Marsh to discuss the life of Daniel Lord.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio

Daniel Lord was a prominent American Catholic figure in the 20th century. He attended St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant before being ordained in 1923. A priest, writer, editor and speaker, Lord shared his message of faith through a variety of media. He even had his hand in movie and theater production, co-writing the controversial Motion Picture Production Code that studios adhered to from 1930 to 1968.

Augustus Tolton was born into slavery in Missouri in 1854 and is considered to have been the first African-American priest in the United States. He ministered in Quincy, Illinois.
Wikimedia Commons

A diverse group of people were once parishioners under the ministry of Father Augustus Tolton in Quincy, Illinois, during the late 19th century. That is until the African-American priest was advised to get out of town. Tolton, who would eventually return to be buried in Quincy, suffered much controversy and isolation in his day.

“Through it all, he kept open arms for everyone, white or black,” Joseph Perry, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago, said during St. Louis on the Air, “and was kind of mistreated because of that openness and accused of creating a situation of integration that society and the church was not ready for.”

Sister An Mei, left, and Sister Mary Lea Hill wave to a group of high school students who recently visited the Pauline Books and Media store in Crestwood.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Daughters of St. Paul have operated Pauline Books and Media, a small bookstore adjoining their convent in Crestwood, since the 1980s. But these days, the Roman Catholic sisters are reaching people far beyond St. Louis with their posts and videos on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

Using the hashtag #MediaNuns, they tweet friendly messages of inspiration:

“If you do nothing else today, remember that God loves you.”

(L-R) Sisters Kathleen Hughes, Jackie Toben and Barbara McMullen discussed the history and work of the 15 orders of Catholic Sisters in the St. Louis region.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

As National Catholic Sisters Week wraps up, host Don Marsh discussed the history and work of the 15 orders of Catholic Sisters in the St. Louis region on Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air. Their work ranges from working with incarcerated women to children in shelters and elders.

Joining the discussion were Sisters Barbara McMullen, Kathleen Hughes and Jackie Toben to talk about their work in the Catholic community and clarify their roles as sisters. 

Public Domain

Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church will hold a Mass on Jan. 1, to commemorate the arrival of one of the first Catholic bishops to the region — in what was then the Louisiana Territory.

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Bishop Louis William Valentine DuBourg in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

Sister Mary Antona Ebo, a pioneering woman in the Catholic Church, died Nov 11, 2017
Wiley Price | St. Louis American

Updated at 3:40 p.m., Nov. 13 with information on services — Sister Mary Antona Ebo, one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most reluctant but eventually most powerful converts to the civil rights movement, died Saturday. She was 93.

When King called on the nation’s religious leaders to join the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights march, Sister Ebo was a Franciscan Sisters of Mary nun in St. Louis. She was aware that hundreds of earlier marchers had been beaten bloody by Alabama state troopers and one, a young, white minister named James Reeb, had died of his injuries.

But she answered the call.

Augustus Tolton was born into slavery in Missouri in 1854 and is considered to have been the first African-American priest in the United States. He ministered in Quincy, Illinois.
Wikimedia Commons

Father Augustus Tolton was born into slavery just outside of Hannibal in Ralls County, Missouri in 1854. He would go on to become the first recognized African-American priest to be ordained by the Roman Catholic Church in the United States in 1886 at the age of 31.

Wikipedia

St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson has given members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians a special dispensation to allow them to eat corned beef with their cabbage on Friday, but most Catholics in the archdiocese will be required to abstain from meat on this Lenten St. Patrick’s Day.

The Rev. Brian Fallon urges high schoolers from around the St. Louis area to keep and open mind during the Come and See retreat weekend at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in Shrewsbury on Nov. 18.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Even though he's only 16 years old, Matthew Mora of Oakville is pondering a pretty mature question: whether he should go into the seminary and, possibly, become a Catholic priest. 

To help him consider this decision, he is attending the fall "Come and See" retreat this weekend at the St. Louis Archdiocese's Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in Shrewsbury along with more than 40 other young men from the St. Louis area. 

Imre Jokuti, who escaped from Hungary while fighting in the revolution, sings the Hungarian national anthem at St. Mary of Victories Church on Nov. 4, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Wearing a ribbon with the Hungarian flag’s red, white and green colors attached to his lapel, Albert Futo sang a hymn in his native tongue with the St. Mary of Victories Church choir in St. Louis Friday morning.

For Futo, this special Mass commemorating the 60th anniversary of Hungary’s uprising against the Soviet Union has personal significance.

Nuns on the Bus, a program of NETWORK lobby, came through St. Louis on July 14 and has since moved on to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio (pictured).
Jennifer Wong | Nuns on the Bus

St. Louis was the fifth stop on a 21-stop tour for Nuns on the Bus, a program started by the NETWORK lobby, which has nuns and their allies riding on a bus advocating for social justice across the country.

Now, the sisters find themselves at the Republican National Convention serving lemonade to attendees in hopes of enticing Republicans participating in the convention to answer three questions about the 2016 election and the future of the United States.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

There are some 1 million Catholics in the United States who observe Catholicism in a way that is not formally connected to the pope in Rome. They practice in around 200 denominations, such as Ecumenical, Antiochian or Evangelical Catholics.

While these Catholic churches do not answer to the pope in Rome, they do practice apostolic succession, seven sacraments and devotion to saints.

Does St. Louis have a priest shortage?

May 28, 2016
Priests welcome their two new members Saturday, May 28, 2016 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Row after row of priests filed through the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis Saturday to lay hands on the heads of the two men joining their brotherhood.

Archbishop Robert Carlson then prayed over the candidates, ordaining Kent Pollman and Scott Scheiderer as priests.

Pollman and Scheiderer are part of a new class of priests in St. Louis: smaller in number than the ordination classes of the 1980s, and facing a future juggling more responsibilities.

Archbishop of New York and St. Louis native, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, drew on the papacies of popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis to discuss how religion can play a role alongside politics.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop of New York, was back in his hometown of St. Louis Wednesday to give a lecture at Washington University's John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

You may have heard of the local group of nuns who go to Bridgeton to pray for and protest over the West Lake and Bridgeton landfills, which have been the subject of much controversy in recent years.

Wikimedia Commons

Dec. 8 will mark the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. At the time, the council was a groundbreaking move as an assembly of Roman Catholic religious leaders had not met for nearly 100 years. What would happen during the council was even more groundbreaking.

Dr. Ed Hogan of the St. Louis Archdiocese said he believes there is a "false" contradiction between faith-based and scientific beliefs, a theme similarly depicted in this Tiffany stained glass window located at Yale University.
Ragesoss | Wikimedia Commons

A professor at a St. Louis-area Catholic seminary is one of 15 people across the country to win a $10,000 grant to develop science courses for future priests.

John Thavis covered the Vatican for 30 years.
Provided by the author

When veteran Vatican journalist John Thavis interviewed exorcists for his new book, many said right off that exorcism was “nothing at all like the movie.”

These American and Italian priests were referring to the 1973 movie “The Exorcist” made from William Peter Blatty’s novel, which was based on a St. Louis event.

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