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News stories tagged with "faith"

SUNY Potsdam anthropology professor Karen Johnson-Weiner
SUNY Potsdam anthropology professor Karen Johnson-Weiner

Amish cope with tragedy and its "Big Media" aftermath

As the legal side of the kidnapping case kicks into gear, the St. Lawrence County Amish community is coping with the tragic ordeal.

An expert on Amish culture and religion says their coping hinges on the Amish sense of faith "by a deep belief that whatever is happening, they are in God's hands," says Karen Johnson-Weiner, an anthropology professor at SUNY Potsdam who has written several books about the Amish. "I think that provides them with a kind of courage that some of us might not have that keeps them from giving in to the despair."  Go to full article
Orthodox priests lead a Friday night Lenten service in the chapel at the Monastery of St. Silouan the Athonite, near Prescott, Ontario.  Photo: Todd Moe
Orthodox priests lead a Friday night Lenten service in the chapel at the Monastery of St. Silouan the Athonite, near Prescott, Ontario. Photo: Todd Moe

Crossing borders to create a small-town Orthodoxy

The single most important day in the Orthodox calendar - Easter, or Pascha, is this Sunday. Many Orthodox churches base their holiest days on the Julian calendar, rather than the Gregorian calendar.

Historically, Orthodox communities in the United States have been defined largely by ethnicity and found mostly in urban areas. But a group of Orthodox Christians in the Canton-Potsdam area has created a mission that brings diverse groups together. They don't have a permanent worship space, sometimes share priests with the Greek Orthodox Church in Watertown, and even visit a small monastery in Ontario. Their membership includes students, families and seniors. This Sunday will mark the group's first Easter service, or Great Vespers, and a meal of festive foods.  Go to full article
Kateri Tekakwitha shrine in Fonda, NY. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmcordell/">Diane Cordell</a>, CC <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">some rights reserved</a>
Kateri Tekakwitha shrine in Fonda, NY. Photo: Diane Cordell, CC some rights reserved

First Native saint "beacon of empowerment"

Catholics across Upstate New York and Canada are celebrating the canonization of a 17th century Mohawk woman. She'll become the first Native American saint in a ceremony this Sunday at the Vatican.

Kateri Tekakwitha (pronounced "gah-deh-LEE de-gah-GWEE-tah") was born in the Mohawk Valley, near what is today Albany. Smallpox killed her parents and partially blinded her when she was six. She fled her village and devoted her life to the Catholic Church at the Kahnawake Mohawk reserve near Montreal. She died when she was just 24 years old.

That church, St. Francis Xavier in Kahnawake, is holding vigils, masses, and other special events throughout the weekend.

Hundreds of faithful are travelling to Rome to witness the canonization in person. Among them is the mother of Darren Bonaparte, a Mohawk historian and author of a book called A Lily Among Thorns: the Mohawk Repatriation of Takeri Tekakwitha.

Bonaparte told David Sommerstein Kateri Tekakwitha's story needs to be seen in its historical context. He says the Dutch and the French were vying for Mohawk lands in the 17th century, spreading smallpox to the native people as they went.  Go to full article
Crossroads Catholic Community service with Father Cox at The Episcopal Church of St. Luke the Beloved Physician in Saranac Lake. Photo: Mark Kurtz
Crossroads Catholic Community service with Father Cox at The Episcopal Church of St. Luke the Beloved Physician in Saranac Lake. Photo: Mark Kurtz

New church offers hope to those who feel marginalized

A new, ecumenical church community has been formed in Saranac Lake that's trying to appeal to those who feel marginalized by the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The Crossroads Catholic Community, founded by the Rev. Christopher Courtwright-Cox, bills itself as a non-judgemental, independent religious community that welcomes gays and lesbians, and women as priests, yet still retains most Catholic traditions and practices. Chris Knight attended a Crossroads service on Saturday and filed this report.  Go to full article
Bishop Terry LaValley. Source: Diocese of Odgensburg
Bishop Terry LaValley. Source: Diocese of Odgensburg

Church officials say priest shortage will worsen

Church officials in Ogdensburg say Roman Catholic parishes across the North Country will lose roughly a third of their priests over the next decade.

The Diocese has expanded efforts to recruit new seminarians willing to serve as priests. But the rapid decline is forcing big changes in the way Catholic churches operate.

Brian Mann spoke recently with Bishop Terry LaValley and has this update.  Go to full article
Erica Macilintal
Erica Macilintal

Away from glare of politics, one woman's struggle to balance faith and sexuality

This week, North Country Public Radio has been talking to religious leaders and politicians in our region about the national debate surrounding birth control and sexuality. It's become a big issue for Republicans in the 2012 presidential primary.

Republicans in Congress are also advancing national legislation that would allow all employers, not just religious groups, to deny health insurance coverage for things like contraception if those services violate the beliefs of the company's owners.

These culture-war debates could shape big races here in the North Country this November, including the battle for the 23rd district congressional race. Republican challenger Matt Doheny has accused Democratic congressman Bill Owens, of working "to violate the free exercise of religion."

Republican Assemblywoman Janet Duprey from Peru is also expected to face a strong primary challenge, in part because of her support for same-sex marriage, which is now legal in New York.

This political debate may, at times, seem disconnected from the reality of modern American life. According to the widely-respected Guttmacher Institute, roughly 90% of fertile, sexually active women in the United States are using contraception. But for some women, religious teachings play a profound role in shaping and defining their sexuality. Away from the glare of politics, faith and intimacy can be closely intertwined.

Our Plattsburgh correspondent Sarah Harris sat down recently to talk in-depth with Erica Macalintal. She's a 22-year-old nursing student at SUNY Plattsburgh who will graduate this May. Macalintal is a devout Roman Catholic who says her sexual life has been deeply influenced by the theology of her Church.  Go to full article
Bishop Terry LaValley. Source: Diocese of Odgensburg
Bishop Terry LaValley. Source: Diocese of Odgensburg

As social issues shape 2012 campaign, North Country bishop speaks out

After the long recession, most pundits expected the 2012 political campaign to revolve around economic issues.

But politicians on the right and left have instead been reviving some surprising social questions, ranging from contraception to prenatal testing to the role of religion in politics and public life.

In an interview with Newsweek magazine, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, argued that opposition to insurance coverage for those services amounts to "an attack on women."

"Many of us are outraged, really outraged," Sen. Gillibrand told the magazine. "In the year 2012, we should not be debating access to birth control. No boss should be making a decision about what health care their employees should be eligible to take."

Polls show that the vast majority of American families use contraception and think contraception should be widely available. Surveys also suggest that a smaller majority of Americans think religious groups should provide full insurance benefits to employees.

But Bishop Terry Lavalley, who heads the Diocese of Ogdensburg, sees this very differently.

He argues that Federal changes to healthcare laws proposed by the Obama administration threaten the religious freedom of groups like the Roman Catholic Church.

Bishop LaValley met recently with Brian Mann to talk about the Church's prominent role in this year's political campaign and about the difficulties of teaching Catholic doctrine in an age when even many Roman Catholics are making very different moral choices.  Go to full article
The earliest known portrait of Kateri Tekakwitha. Source: Wikipedia
The earliest known portrait of Kateri Tekakwitha. Source: Wikipedia

NPR examines the "miracle" of Kateri Tekakwitha

Last week, the Vatican declared that a Washington state boy's recovery from a deadly and debilitating illness was a miracle. The Pope signed documents attributing 11-year-old Jake Finkbonner's survival to the intercession of Kateri Tekakwitha. She was a 17th century Mohawk woman who lived in what is now Upstate New York and who converted to Catholicism.

The Pope's decision moves Kateri one step closer to full sainthood. Last week, Bishop Terry LaValley, head of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, issued a statement saying "we eagerly await that day when the church declares that she is numbered among the saints in heaven."

Back in April, NPR's religion corrrespondent, Barbara Bradley-Hagerty, examined the process by which the Vatican decides which miracles are authentic.  Go to full article

Books: "Jairus' Daughter"

Potsdam writer Evelyn Weissman's first novel, Jairus' Daughter, is a fictional autobiography that began as a series of stories for her children as an answer to questions about her conversion from Judaism to Christianity. She calls it a modern tale of religious conversion. Weissman, like Sara in her book, grew up in a traditional Jewish family and reluctantly followed a spiritual path that led her to Christianity. Todd Moe spoke with her in the backyard of her Potsdam home about the book and her spiritual journey. She'll sign copies of her book at the Brewer Bookstore in Canton this Saturday afternoon (3 pm).  Go to full article
Religion reporter Gustav Niebuhr
Religion reporter Gustav Niebuhr

Promoting understanding between religions

How can people of different religions learn to live together in peace? Especially, since 9/11, many religious leaders and scholars have been trying to answer that question. Gustav Niebuhr's book, Beyond Tolerance, explores the importance of interfaith dialogue and action in a post 9/11 world. Niebuhr has worked as a religion reporter, most recently for the New York Times, and has established a reputation as a leading writer about American religion. His work has been published in books, magazines and websites, and he does occasional commentaries on religion for NPR. Gustav Niebuhr will give a lecture on his book "Beyond Tolerance" at SUNY Potsdam tonight (7 pm). Niebuhr is a professor of journalism and religion at Syracuse University. He told Todd Moe that it's not enough for us to speak about being tolerant, but that we must actually be tolerant of those different from ourselves.  Go to full article

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