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February 2012

Youth retreats focus on relationship with God

A youth retreat debuting this summer in the Archdiocese of Omaha for fifth- through seventh-graders will address bullying, Theology of the Body and reconciliation.

And Funday - set for June 12 at Broken Arrow Wilderness in Fullerton - is just one of nearly a dozen retreats designed for young people across the archdiocese.

Retreats are an important way to concentrate youths' attention while providing a fun and safe environment for them to learn more about their faith, organizers said.

U.S. bishops want health insurance rule rescinded

A federal mandate requiring health insurance companies to cover contraception and sterilization procedures should be rescinded, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement Feb. 10.

Efforts to provide exemptions to the policy based on religious objections have failed, including President Barack Obama's latest announcement that insurance companies - not employers - would provide and pay for the coverage when religious institutions object, they said.

Pro-life legislation advances in Nebraska Legislature

An effort to restore government-funded prenatal care to unborn babies of low-income women, including illegal immigrants, has advanced out of committee in the Nebraska Legislature.

If passed, Legislative Bill 599, introduced last year, would allow the state to restore such coverage through its children's health insurance program. In 2010, the federal government told Nebraska it had to end those services through Medicaid because they were based on the eligibility of the unborn children, not of the mother.

Computers4Africa leaves lasting legacy

Tim and Ruth Leacock of St. James Parish in Omaha launched Computers4Africa 10 years ago to supply rural schools in Africa with computer technology - and 3,082 computers later they are wrapping it up with a final fundraiser March 10.

The 10 years have left "a lasting legacy," Ruth said.

"I think we're most proud of going into the former war zone of Northern Uganda, which had seen two decades of war and 2 million internally displaced people," she said.

Group of former Intercessors receives church recognition

A group of former members of the Intercessors of the Lamb - an organization suppressed 16 months ago by Archbishop George J. Lucas - has formed a new association that recently received official recognition in the Archdiocese of Omaha.

Called the Association of the Brides of the Victorious Lamb, the group's charism is similar to that held by the Intercessors - intercessory prayer, spiritual direction and conducting retreats, said Linda Marie Neuhoff, a leader of the group who has taken the name Sister Elizabeth Marie of the Most Blessed Trinity.

40 Days for Life effort coincides with Lenten journey

The campaign 40 Days for Life and Lenten observances of prayer, almsgiving and fasting will coincide this spring in Omaha.

Holding the 40 Days' effort to end abortion - which includes prayer and peaceful vigil at abortion clinics as well as fasting and community outreach - during the penitential season leading to Easter can inspire more people to become involved, said Ann Marie Bowen, director of Nebraskans United for Life, which is sponsoring the effort in the Archdiocese of Omaha.

Italian heritage film to focus on Omaha Santa Lucia Festival

Some credit St. Lucy with keeping the Santa Lucia Festival in Omaha alive since it began in 1925.

While divine intervention might be part of it, a lull in support for the festival in the late 1990s, followed by renewed enthusiasm in the Italian-American community, has prompted several people in the Omaha area to give it another boost - with a one-hour documentary film designed to capture the essence of the festival and the history of Italian settlement in the city, said Mike DiGiacomo, a broadcast journalist and businessman who is helping organize the effort.

Almsgiving, prayer and fasting are key steps on road to Easter

A journey of discovery and renewal begins this month - but no bags need to be packed, no tickets purchased.

Lent, the 40-day season starting Feb. 22 on Ash Wednesday and leading to Easter Sunday, is a time for Catholics and other Christians to make a journey of faith by growing closer to God and neighbor through prayer, almsgiving and fasting, said Father Scott Hastings, pastor of St. Leonard Parish in Madison.

Catholic women's group announces scholarship application deadline

The Omaha Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women is accepting applications for its annual scholarship program for Catholic girls who are high school seniors and plan to go to college.

Applications for six $250 scholarships are due March 10 and should be sent to local chapters of the Archdiocesan Council. Additional application information is available at guidance counselor offices in area high schools.

The six winners will be considered for the Archdiocesan Council's $500 scholarship.

Archbishop Lucas anoints new altar, rededicates Springfield church

SPRINGFIELD - Archbishop George J. Lucas pulled up his sleeve and rubbed sacred chrism on the new marble altar at St. Joseph Church, making the sign of the cross on each corner before slowly working the sacred oil over the entire top of the altar.

"Bless this altar, built in the house of the church, that it may ever be reserved for the sacrifice of Christ, and stand forever as the Lord's table, where your people will find nourishment and strength," the archbishop prayed during the church's rededication Mass Feb. 3.

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