Harlem Nuns Celebrate 85th Anniversary

THE NEW YORK TIMES, Oct. 13 — The Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, an order of nuns founded in anticipation of a Georgia law forbidding whites from teaching black children, celebrated its 85th anniversary at a Mass in Harlem, the daily newspaper reported.

The nuns have been based in Harlem for the past 77 years. The 23 sisters at the convent range in age from 39 to 101, and many can recount firsthand history of the area, from the Great Depression, the Harlem Renaissance, the fiery speeches of Malcolm X and the illegal drug trade in the 1980s.

Some of the nuns worry that a new popularity for Harlem is driving rents up — and the working poor out. But Harlem's changes are also reflected in the fact that the Handmaids' St. Benedict Day Nursery now serves black, white, African and Asian children, the Times reported. Even the order itself, one of three predominantly black religious communities in the country, now has a white and a Filipino nun.

Terror Victims Turn to Catholic Charities for Help

U.S. NEWSWIRE, Sept. 14 — Catholic Charities agencies are helping victims and their families recover from the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and western Pennsylvania, providing things such as grief counseling and emergency food, clothing and shelter, the news service reported.

“With a crisis like this, it is likely families are going to face any number of needs,” said Ed Orzechowski, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. “They could range from something as simple as transportation to visit an injured loved one to — sadly — burial needs.”

Catholic Charities Office of Disaster Response sent grants of $10,000 each to Catholic Charities of Rockville Centre, N.Y., close to Manhattan, and Arlington, Va., close to the Pentagon, for grief and spiritual counseling. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, based in Manhattan, had counselors fanned out across the city to help those experiencing stress and depression.

Religious Shows Gain Viewers After Sept. 11

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Oct. 10 — Ratings doubled for James Robison's “Life Today” on the Trinity Broadcasting Network during the two weeks beginning Sept. 16, compared with the two weeks before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the business daily reported.

Likewise, ratings jumped 60% for a news program hosted by “prophecy expert” Hal Lindsey.

And a radio show, “Islam in the Media,” fielded calls covering topics such as the teachings of Islam. But some networks, including Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting, also used the recent events in their marketing pitches, the Journal reported, to get wider distribution on cable systems and TV stations and raise money for their ministries.

Msgr. Thomas J. Hartman, co-host of “The God Squad” on New York cable, warned that religious leaders should avoid trying to convert people “by grabbing them by the throat at a difficult time.”

Said Msgr. Hartman, “What the Church is saying is this is not a time to proselytize. It's more a time for living the message of our faith.”