The diocese is partnering with St. Francis Parish to offer an evening for families with children or young adults with special needs on April 10. This is a great opportunity to relax, build community and feel supported. Parents can enjoy a social, wine tasting and hear from Dr. Daniel Earle of Glen Haven Counseling Resources. Meanwhile, professional and trained volunteers will take care of the children and young adults, including those with special needs. You need to register by March 27 if you’re thinking of coming. Join us for a respite and let us be your anchor. Contact St. Francis Parish or call Adam Storey, the diocesan director of the Marriage & Family Life Office at 237-5056 for more information.
The Vatican wants to know what you think of marriage and family as it prepares for an Ordinary Synod this fall. We invite you to fill out a survey by clicking here. Share with us your hopes, dreams and concerns about marriage and family. Responses will be sent to the U.S. bishops' conference on March 15 so don't wait. Pope Francis advises that we do some reading before addressing the questions. Read the summary document, called Relatio Synodi, that was produced at last year's Extraordinary Synod. The questions we're asking you to answer will often refer to the Relatio Synodi. Many thanks for your time and help!
Today is Ash Wednesday, which kicks off the Lenten season. This is a significant day in the Catholic Church year beginning a period of forty days of prayer, fasting and charity. At services, people traditionally are marked with ashes of burnt palm branches as a sign of their recognition of their human frailty as well as sinfulness and need for repentance in their lifelong journey of conversion. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (April 3) are days of fasting within the Church for those between the ages of 18 and 59. They may eat only one full meal and two other meals consisting of substantially less food. There should be no food taken between meals. Anyone whose health is threatened by fasting is exempted. Catholics age 14 and older also abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Fridays of Lent.
Signing with ashes will be held throughout the diocese on Ash Wednesday. Anyone may call their local Catholic church for times. Ashes will be distributed today at St. Ambrose Cathedral, at 6th and High Streets in Des Moines, during the 12:10 p.m. Mass. Bishop Richard Pates will be the celebrant of the Mass. Attendance at services and being signed with ashes is open to anyone who desires it, regardless of whether they are a member of the Catholic Church.
The people of diocesan parishes and schools are encouraged to support the CRS Rice Bowl effort, formerly called Operation Rice Bowl, during the Lenten season. The Rice Bowl helps us live in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable around the world. Twenty-five percent of the donations raised through the Rice Bowl effort stay in the Diocese of Des Moines to assist with local people in need. The other 75 percent supports people who live in poverty through Catholic Relief Services programs in more than 100 countries around the world.
Also during the Lenten season, the 17 schools in the Diocese of Des Moines are focusing on a project to raise funds for a Catholic seminary in Nigeria. The project, called “Building the Kingdom,” honors the four Nigerian priests of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit who serve in the Des Moines diocese. They are: Father Felix Onuora, Father Anthony Adibe, Father Emmanuel Agwuoke and Father Remi Okere.