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February 2014

Schools compete in Wits Clash

A team from Mary Our Queen School in Omaha won the 39th annual Wits Clash competition at Roncalli Catholic High School in Omaha.

The Feb. 7 Jeopardy-style competition involved more than 100 seventh- and eighth-graders from 14 public and private schools. Each school formed two teams of four students, and a team from St. Wenceslaus School in Omaha placed second and a squad from St. Columbkille School in Papillion was third.

Students make blankets for needy

Two high school seniors at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Omaha estimate making 100 fleece blankets for the Salvation Army over the last four years - by squeezing the work between school-day breaks and raising the money for materials through $1 dress-down days.

Kathryn Zieno and Bailey Petty said the blankets are used for the homeless on the streets and in shelters and for people at house fires and natural disasters.

Marian names interim principals

Marian High School assistant principals Kathy Tompkins and Rochelle Rohlfs will share temporary duties of principal for the 2014-15 school year as the Omaha school seeks permanent replacements for head of school Susan Toohey, who acted as both president and principal.

Searches began this month for an acting president for the 2014-15 school year and for a permanent president and principal, said Kaitlin Ahart, communications director.

The school's board of directors expects to fill the two positions by the 2015-16 school year, she said.

EPS honors six at benefit dinner

Essential Pregnancy Services' (EPS) 18th annual benefit dinner Jan. 26 drew a record 659 people and raised nearly $180,000 for the Omaha-based pro-life organization.

Six people were honored for their service to EPS and the wider community, including Dr. Paul and Bernadette Esposito, members of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Omaha, who received the Diane Quinn Award, and Dr. Clete and Mary Baum, members of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Omaha, who received the EPS Service Award.

New Cassel CEO retires; replacement is hired

New Cassel Retirement Center CEO Joe Schulte retired Jan. 21 after 23 years at the helm, and chief operating officer Larry Hartman has been promoted to the post.

Hartman was hired in September as part of Schulte's transition plan. And to honor Schulte, a commons area being built at the Omaha center will be named Joseph H. Schulte Park.

Sponsored by the School Sisters of St. Francis, New Cassel was founded 41 years ago as a Catholic independent and assisted living facility that serves people of all faiths.

The pro-life heartbeat goes on

Last weekend, I witnessed several examples of the strength of the pro-life heartbeat in Nebraska.

On Saturday, I was privileged to attend and serve as emcee for a pro-life prayer breakfast in Wayne, an event organized by pro-life leaders in and around that community.

Chief organizer of this event was Bonnie Hoffman, the long-time pro-life coordinator for St. Mary Parish in Wayne. This kind of leadership is the reason why my office recognized her with the 2013 Gospel of Life award for the Archdiocese of Omaha.

Hospitality can open the door to stewardship

A woman with whom I worked years ago lived by this motto: "It is better to be interested than interesting." I witnessed her animate this philosophy in many settings, whether a one-on-one encounter or a committee meeting. She asked meaningful questions and listened intently. She learned people's names, stories and interests.

In her role as an event coordinator, she managed to inspire incredible commitment from the volunteers who were on her team each year. In her attention to them she would find, nurture and honor their gifts.

Holy See more than 'Papal States' on world stage

When the Holy See signed the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, a friend knowledgeable in legal matters said, with considerable vehemence, that the convention was a snare and a delusion that would eventually come back to bite the Vatican.

The bite came earlier this month, in a deeply tendentious report from the Geneva-based U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child. The committee, as might have been expected, flogged the Holy See for alleged inadequacies in responding to the abuse crisis. But it did not stop there.

Proposal on sexual orientation is about more than employment

As originally introduced last year by Sen. Danielle Conrad of Lincoln, LB 485 would make it unlawful for employers of 15 or more people to make decisions about hiring, firing and terms and conditions of employment based on an individual's "sexual orientation." In addition, it would apply the same prohibitive standard to all contractors and subcontractors of the state and political subdivisions; and it would correspondingly expand the affirmative-action policy that guides state government.

'Grateful' key word in annual celebration of press month

Many groups, organizations, professions and causes designate a special day or week to emphasize their message or promote their cause. The Catholic press takes it to the next level, claiming an entire month. And each February Catholic press members celebrate Catholic Press Month. Although "celebrate" might be somewhat of an exaggeration in most cases, certainly here at the Catholic Voice.

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