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Archive for the ‘Therese Bermpohl’ Category

By: Thérèse Bermpohl

Bring up immigration in a room full of people and it’s like tossing a match onto a stack of dry hay. Emotions flare and opinions collide. As I write this, I know that there are many sides to each story, huge obstacles to bring about solutions and many political and economic realities at stake. But I cannot see past the immediate need of innocent children whose very lives are threatened as they fall victim to the harrowing experience of being brought into our country.

The situation in the United States is dire and there is certainly enough blame to go around, from the president to Congress. Yet while the powers that be haggle over ways to tackle this enormous problem, the reality looms. There are some 10 to 13 million undocumented immigrants already living among us. According to the Migration and Refugee Services of the USCCB, in 2014 the U.S. will experience up to 90,000 unaccompanied children fleeing to her from all parts of Central America.1

lampedusa-pope_2611669kI cannot help but ask what hellish scenario would have to exist for someone to send his or her child, alone, on a dangerous journey to a foreign country? War? Famine? Fear of torture? Most of the children at the border are coming from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.  Those countries have the first, fourth and fifth highest murder rates (respectively) in the world. Coupled with poverty, corrupt governments and drug cartels, we are no longer talking about a better quality of life. We are talking about survival.

Every day, I pass by a day-laborer site in Arlington. I can feel the discomfort in the pit of my stomach as I stare at the hundreds of Hispanic men begging for work. Not a handout, but work! In his encyclical “On Human Work” Pope John Paul II wrote: “Man must work, both because the Creator has commanded it and because of his own humanity, which requires work in order to be maintained and developed. Man must work out of regard for others, especially his own family” (Laborem Exercens, 16).  I try to imagine a situation where sin, division, and hatred would have forced my own father to stand on a street corner imploring foreigners to hire him so that he could put food on the table for his family.

There is no escaping the fact that we have an immigration system in urgent need of an overhaul. We also have urgent and very legitimate border security needs. But in the meantime, what are we to do with the millions of human beings in our midst?

Arguably, the best response can be found in Matthew 25: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink,  a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me…”


[1] USCCB, Unaccompanied Migrant Children Resource Kithttp://www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/unaccompanied-migrant-children-resource-kit.cfm.

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By: Therese Bermpohl

Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI).

So begins the imaginary conversation that I have been having in my mind with Governor Terry McAuliffe, an avowed Catholic, ever since he ordered the Virginia Board of Health to review state abortion clinic regulations yesterday.  I’m certain that if I could just get him alone for 30 minutes I could explain to him the truth about the human person, the value of every woman, and last but not least, what is wrong with his policies and his thinking with regard to abortion.  I would say something like:

mother-childThe truth is, governor, the abortion clinic regulations help women.  They attempt to prevent the events that occurred in Kermit Gosnell’s shop of horrors from potentially happening in clinics throughout Virginia.  In fact, women do die from botched abortions in legal government sanctioned facilities.

The truth is, governor, every abortion destroys an image of God…a life full of promise, willed, loved and necessary.

The truth is, governor, that although you have been entrusted by the people of Virginia with the highest position in the state, you would have no power at all had it not been given to you from Above.

The truth is, governor, you will be called to give an account of your life before the Great Judge.  I ask you sincerely to reflect on your policies toward women and the unborn before that moment in time when you no longer have the opportunity to change your ways.

In the meantime, I will pray that your eyes will be opened and that your heart will be stirred to protect and defend all life from conception to natural death…so that at the moment of your natural death, you will hear the long-awaited words of the Lord: Well done, good and faithful servant.

Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond and Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington issued the following statement in response to Gov. McAuliffe’s actions.

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By: Therese Bermpohl

Let the dismal news from last Thursday serve as a wake up call to Virginians. The family is under full attack and our children are the ones who will pay the price. An unelected Virginia judge dealt another blow to marriage in the United States by striking down the state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. With this decision, the judge not only contradicts the good citizens of Virginia but the centuries of civilizations that have esteemed marriage between a man and a woman. More importantly, the judge says to the Author of Marriage: “You got it wrong!”

We need to arise from our slumber and ask ourselves, “What am I going to do to help defend marriage; to defend children and the dignity of all people, including those with same sex attraction?”

Prayer, fasting and penance can purify us and our culture! It can avert every kind of disaster! Let us be intentional! How many hours of prayer and sacrifice will you commit to in order to change the world?

Blessed TeresaI am reminded of a story about our beloved Blessed “Mother” Teresa of Calcutta:

On her way back from Oslo, Mother Teresa made a stop-over in Rome. Several reporters were gathered in the outer courtyard of the Missionaries of Charity’s humble house on the Coelium Hill. Mother Teresa did not try to avoid the reporters, but she received them like children, putting a miraculous medal into the hand of each one of them. The reporters were generous with their photos and questions; one question was a little naughty: «Mother, you are seventy! When you die, the world will be as it was before. What has changed after so much effort?» Mother Teresa could have reacted with a little holy indignation, instead she smiled brightly, as if they had kissed her affectionately. And she added: «Well, I never thought I would be able to change the world! I have only tried to be a drop of clean water in which God’s love could sparkle. Does that seem little?»

The reporters did not know what to answer, while an attentive and emotional silence had fallen around Mother Teresa. She started to speak again and asked the “cheeky” reporter: «Why don’t you try to be a drop of clean water, and then there will be two of us. Are you married?». «Yes, Mother».. «Tell your wife as well and then there will be three of us. Have you any children?». «Three children, Mother». «Tell your children too and then there will be six of us…».

– Read more of this story here.

Let us be a drop of clean water….Let us believe in the power of the Almighty God to use us to change the minds and hearts of every human being.

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By: Therese Bermpohl

Every so often a veil of lies is lifted, forcing us to look at the truth of a situation we may otherwise have chosen to avoid.  This was the case back in the late 1990’s when Americans were confronted with the gruesome truth about partial birth abortion, watching as Congress debated whether or not it was “needed” to preserve the “health of women.” During those debates, the country recoiled, learning exactly how barbaric partial birth abortion really is. Those debates had such an impact that even today, many who self-identify as “pro-choice” are quick to say that they are not in favor of partial birth abortion.

24 week preemie (photo cred: Dallas Brown)

24 week preemie (photo cred: Dallas Brown)

Again, today, the thin façade of civility is peeled away from the abortion industry so that the American public has to take a good look at the “choice” it has made to tolerate legalized abortion.  The Hermit Gosnell trial has stunned, shocked and horrified all who have had the stomach to follow it.  What went on in the Gosnell facility is the same thing that goes on in every abortion facility, the slaughter of unborn children. No matter how we size it up, the end result of abortion is one dead human being and a vast number of wounded souls, not the least of which is the mother of the child.

I remember reading an article in a prominent newspaper in which the author was bewildered about why the child homicide rate had skyrocketed over the past 30 years.  It was 2003, just thirty years after the Supreme Court of the United States of America legalized the killing of unborn children in the U.S.  I remember thinking, “Can they seriously fail to make the connection between legalized abortion and the vast rise in the child murder rate?”

The Gosnell trial has given us an opportunity to see one of the greatest scourges in the course of history in full force.  The question becomes, will people of good will take heed of the destructive reality of abortion?  There has been much talk of peace lately, and I continue to harken back to the words of the late Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who said,

“…the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”

Let us not lose this opportunity as a nation to do the right thing, to look at abortion for what it is – the taking of innocent human life – and change barbaric abortion laws to defend the rights of children in the womb. Maybe then, as Blessed Teresa predicted, the world will become a safer place for all.

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By: Therese Bermpohl

There is another March coming to Washington, D.C., and this one may be equally as important as the March for Life that occurs every January.  This is the march for traditional marriage:  one man, one woman.  As we know too well, so goes the family so goes the culture, and what can destabilize a society more than dismantling its foundational institution of marriage?

DSC_8617

Couples celebrate at the Marriage Jubilee Mass

On March 26, the Supreme Court will begin hearing two days of oral arguments challenging the constitutionality of California’s voter-passed Proposition 8, as well as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.  The outcome of the high court’s decision will have a significant impact on the future of marriage in our country.

Much is at stake here, and it would well be worth the effort to carve out time to flood the streets of D.C. to show our support for traditional marriage. As Bishop Kevin Rhodes, Chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Women, Family Life and Youth, said in a recent letter to the bishops, “The march will be a significant opportunity to promote and defend marriage and the good of our nation, to pray for our Supreme Court justices, and to stand in solidarity with people of good will.”

To learn more about the march visit http://www.marriagemarch.org/

Schedule Events for the March for Marriage:

Tuesday, March 26th

8:30 a.m.:  Gather at National Mall between 10th Street and 12th Street NW

& between Madison Drive NW and Jefferson Drive SW

9:30 a.m.:  March to Supreme Court and then return to the National Mall

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.:  Rally begins at the National Mall

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An elderly man had grown increasingly worried that his wife was losing her hearing.  One night, to test it out, he stood behind the sofa and said, “Darling, can you hear me?”

There was no response.

So he crept a bit closer and asked her again, “Darling, can you hear me?”

Still no response.  Very worried now, he moved up right next to her ear and said again in a loud voice, “Darling, can you hear me?!”

At which point she turned around and shouted “For the third time Henry, yes I can hear you!”

Like many jokes, this one hides a kernel of truth.  Like Henry, we often believe we have a clear picture of what’s going on in our lives, except for one flaw – we forget to factor ourselves into the equation.  Indeed, when talking about relationships and communication, many of us have been to enough talks on these subjects that we figure we could deliver an abridged version ourselves.  So why bother going to another one?  Yet like the plot twist in the joke, the answer to that question may seem obvious upon reflection – have we really applied what we’ve learned to our own lives?

I went to a conference six months ago, and one of the speakers recounted his conversion story from many years before.  For a year after his conversion, he felt the Holy Spirit in a tangible way every single day.  He felt righteous; he felt inspired; he felt holy.  In fact, he admitted to us, at that electrifying part of his faith life, he couldn’t imagine how he couldn’t be a saint right then and there, and he genuinely wondered what everyone else was doing wrong.  He went to see his spiritual advisor, and after telling him all the wonderful things he had been experiencing, the priest asked him “Well in that case, how have you been treating your wife?  Your children?  Your neighbor on the street?”  And without a drop of irony he resopnded “Father, what does that have to do with anything?”

Like this well-intentioned speaker, we can all fall victim to ‘holiness by osmosis’ – I understand the ideas, I’ve surrounded myself with like-minded folks, and I certainly feel great about where I’m at.  Yet if a quick examination of our relationships – and in particular, how well we relate to others – lends a less than perfect picture, it may be a good time to re-approach communication with open ears, with a mind toward adopting what we learn.

With that in mind, the Office for Family Life and the Alpha Omega clinic is once again offering its annual relationship series, this time as a three part workshop focused on communication skills.   Led by licensed social worker Carolyn Hansen, the workshop is open to all adults 21 and over, including married couples, engaged couples, dating and singles.  The workshop will be held at St. Agnes parish hall in Arlington from 6 – 9 pm on consecutive Wednesdays—November 2nd, 9th, and 16th.  A wine and cheese reception will precede each presentation, and a $10 donation is suggested per person per night (or $25 for the series).

Register now!

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By Therese Bermpohl, Director, Office for Family Life

Call it a blowout Catholic Picnic. Call it a festival. Call it a chance to eat good food, listen to great music and enjoy the entertainment of talented local performers.

But no matter what you call it, don’t miss out on this opportunity to celebrate with Catholics from all over the Diocese of Arlington at the third-annual Catholic Family Festival on Saturday Sept. 24, 2011, from 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, Va.

What does the Washington Post have to say about this year’s Catholic Family Festival’s headlining band? “Scythian’s enthusiasm is contagious, and shows seem to end with everyone dancing, jumping around or hoisting glasses.”

This festival promises enjoyment for the entire family. The kids will relish the free games including laser tag, a giant inflatable slide, a moon bounce and face-painting, as parents sample foods from around the globe while listening to the infectious sounds of popular local band, Scythian, of whom the Washington Post writes: “Scythian’s enthusiasm is contagious, and shows seem to end with everyone dancing, jumping around or hoisting glasses.”

Sports enthusiasts can enjoy an organized soccer tournament or play pick-up soccer, Frisbee and football, while shoppers peruse the many vendors and exhibitors who will be selling jewelry, art, and other crafts and collectibles.

Finally, don’t miss out on the opportunity to worship at a Holy Mass celebrated by our own Bishop Paul S. Loverde. The exhilarating Gospel choir from St. Joseph Parish, Alexandria, will sing during the Mass.

With free parking and entry (a donation of $5 per car is suggested) at the beautiful Bull Run Park, this promises to be a day of fun and free activities for the entire family to enjoy. Don’t miss out on the fun!

Things to remember:

Bring cash for food and vendors (there are no ATMs and only some vendors will accept  other forms of payment)

  • Bring a chair or blanket and lots of sunscreen!
  • No pets and no alcohol allowed

For more information on the festival visit our website, www.catholicfamilyfestival.org, or call (703) 841-2550

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, contact Anne at cff@arlingtondiocese.org

To learn more about vendor opportunities, contact Tom at cff@arlingtondiocese.org

To download a printable flyer, click here.

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