National Catholic Register


National Media Watch

Keeping an eye on the news around the Nation.

BY John Lilly

November 26-December 2, 2006 Issue | Posted 11/22/06 at 11:00 AM


Priest Injured in Iraq Begins Speaking

STAR TRIBUNE, Nov. 5 — A Minnesota priest who suffered a devastating head injury while serving as chaplain in Iraq has begun speaking, reported the Tribune.

Father Tim Vakoc was wounded 2½ years ago. Doctors at first didn’t think he would survive. The last two years he has been in a “minimally responsive” state. On Oct. 26 he spoke to his mother via telephone.

“Tim was on the phone and he was talking to me,” said Phyllis, his mother. “He said ‘Mom.’ He said ‘goodbye’… [and] a lot of things in between I couldn’t catch. We’ve been praying for a miracle.” It was the first time she had heard his voice since Mother’s Day 2004, when he called from Iraq.

A speech therapist has been working with Father Vakoc since May. Medical experts are describing his ability to speak as a breakthrough.

Mother Reacts to Transgender Instruction in School

NEWTON TAB, Nov. 8 — When the mother of a Newton public school third-grade student didn’t receive assurances that parents would be warned of future sex-related instruction, she was forced to pull her daughter from the school, reported the Massachusetts weekly.

Emer O’Shea’s 8-year-old daughter, a student at Franklin Elementary School in West Newton, was subject to instruction by the school’s social worker on people who change their sex or dress like someone of the opposite sex. The social worker is a former board member of the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

Efforts to receive an explanation from the principal were met defensively, so Emer turned to the superintendent’s office. Superintendent Jeff Young said that a parental consent law didn’t apply to the instruction because the topic wasn’t planned, but was simply a “teachable moment.”

Emer ended up pulling her daughter from Franklin and sending her to a private school.

Vocations on the Rise to Habit-Wearing Orders

TIME, Nov. 13 — Over the past five years, Catholic religious orders have attracted more women in their 20s and 30s. The convents that are receiving vocations, Time observed, are those where women wear a traditional habit.

While the overall numbers of religious sisters has decreased from 179,954 in 1965 to 67,773, young women are being attracted to orders such as the Nashville Dominicans, the Sisters of Life, and the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.

It’s the countercultural experience that’s drawing many. “You can understand why a woman who has given up sex, freedom and money would want to wear her wedding dress — which is what they consider their habits to be,” said Cheryl Reed, author of Unveiled: Inside the Hidden Lives of Nuns. “You want to say, ‘I’m special. I gave this up.’”

Convents are also attracting professionals, former opera singers, pharmacists and others. “Women who are older — in their 30s and early 40s — feel that they’ve accomplished a lot with their lives, but there’s still something missing,” said Sister Laurie Brink, a professor of Biblical studies at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.