News In Brief

Program Gives Lessons in Safe Dating

JOLIET, Ill. — A Joliet program that provides free prom dresses for high school girls not only focuses on clothes and accessories but also puts a major emphasis on dating safety.

Samantha Mosher, prevention educator for the Sexual Assault Service Center of Guardian Angel Community Services, said conversations with high school students about prom expenses gave her the idea of combining a dating safety course with free prom attire. In April, she offered students four chances to take the two-hour course.

About 40 high school girls completed the course and received a free dress, shoes, jewelry and other accessories collected in a drive Mosher organized for the first time this year. Guardian Angel Community Services in Joliet is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate.

“This is a win-win situation for us,” said Dominican Sister Mary Carr, pastoral associate at St. Bernard Parish in Homer Glen. She said parishioners donated about 125 dresses to the cause and were glad to empty their closets of gently-used prom and bridesmaid dresses.

 “I want to give them steps they can take to keep themselves safe, things they can do to reduce their vulnerability,” Mosher told the Catholic Explorer, newspaper of the Joliet Diocese. She said she reminds girls that just because someone looks nice does not mean they are nice and she also warns them about some of the things that can happen during prom dates, such as a narcotic slipped into a drink or a date who becomes abusive.


Special Mass Honors Firefighters and Their Fallen 

METUCHEN, N.J. — Each year, firefighters throughout the Metuchen Diocese gather at a special Mass to remember and honor their fallen comrades. It is also a time to recall why they chose such a dangerous profession in the first place.

Referring to firefighting as a vocation, Bishop Paul Bootkoski reminded those gathered April 29 at St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral for the annual firefighters’ Mass that they were following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ who gave his life for us.

“You give your lives for others. That’s the example of Jesus Christ, that’s the example of Jesus of Nazareth,” Bishop Bootkoski, the principal celebrant, said in his homily. “Whether volunteer or paid fire department, it matters little, because all of you risk your lives for others. What a magnificent example you are for our society.”

Before the Mass, the firefighters were led into the cathedral by drum major Don Gilmartin from the Newark Firefighters Pipes and Drums and the United Pipes and Drums Band of New Jersey. They were followed into the cathedral by a color guard representing fire departments from Edison, South Amboy, Metuchen, New Brunswick and Perth Amboy.


Yearbook Reports Rise of ‘Emergent Church

WASHINGTON — The 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches has an essay on the growing phenomenon of what is being called the “emergent church” — a decentralized movement or conversation among younger Christians in the United States and abroad who are committed to discipleship but resist traditional denominational ties, leadership structures and doctrinal formulations.

Not surprisingly, much of the conversation among participants is carried out on the Internet, with numerous websites and blogs, where they share ideas and write journals of their own faith understandings and experiences.

The yearbook is an annual publication of the New York-based National Council of Churches.

Among the 20 largest church bodies in the United States, the three with the largest rate of membership increase in 2004 were the Catholic Church (0.83%), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1.74%) and the Assemblies of God (1.81%). The trend of declining membership continued in several mainline Protestant churches. As in other recent years, seminary enrollments for all denominations increased again in 2004 — from 6,925 to 7,036 in Canada and from 71,784 to 73,104 in the United States.