Les Femmes

Les Femmes Hosts CMC Meeting in Woodstock


Purple redbuds, white and pink dogwood, and scores of daffodils welcomed members of the Catholic Media Coalition (CMC) for their annual meeting April 22-25 in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Established in 2002, the association of independent Catholic print and electronic newsletters has grown from 11 members to over 50. “We had representatives from New England, New Mexico, Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and Florida,” said CMC president Mary Ann Kreitzer. Among goals set for the coming year were: establishing 6-8 newsletters in heterodox dioceses around the country, establishing a website to shine light on orthodox priests being persecuted by their bishops, networking with friendly reporters in the secular media, and offering free articles to diocesan papers around the country. Liturgy of the hours and the Litany of Humility provided the framework for the meeting which focused on working within the heart of the Church with complete fidelity to the pope and magisterium.

Fr. Thomas Euteneuer of Human Life International spoke on Saturday morning outlining seven principles for working against the culture of death:

1) Never be silent in the face of great evils; 2) Expose the deeds of darkness by educating the public — especially using graphic images; 3) Don't be totally negative — give people hope; 4) Don't just be positive either. Recognize we are in spiritual warfare; balance hope with realism. "You've got to tell people the truth about how they are living;" 5) The word must be spoken. "Speak the truth. It has a power all its own... it has the power to change hearts;" 6) Not only must we speak, but carry it out into the world as missionaries. Like St. Paul we'll have big successes, but also big failures. “But go! If no one goes out, the word will not be heard;” 7) Consecrate your mission. "Then it's not your own words, it's Christ working through you."

Father sees the election of Pope Benedict XVI as a clear sign of hope and expects him to set the seal on the teachings of John Paul II while bringing back discipline. "It's all about souls. Keep people on the road to salvation." During Mass he consecrated CMC groups in their individual apostolates as well as CMC as a whole. He urged members to choose patron saints for their ministries and described CMC’s patron, Maximilian Kolbe, as “the perfect choice.” Fr. Euteneuer’s encouragement blessed all the participants.

Dan and Judith Graham, authors of The Writing System, presented a two-hour interactive writing workshop outlining the principles of their method. The group learned systematic steps to plan a document beginning with the need to identify the audience for a project and its purpose. What are you trying to accomplish? Dan solicited a real document being worked on in the group (a letter to the head of the Child Protection Office about background checks and fingerprinting) and asked pointed questions about its audience and purpose. The document develops from a "perfect match" between the purpose statement and the document outline. You need to "nail it" (the purpose of the document) in your first sentence. Without a good understanding of your audience and objectives and a clear outline, writers waste a lot of time. Dan estimated the system can help writers achieve a 40% increase in output. One of Dan's memorable tips was "Does the content of the document pass the 'so what?' test." Does the audience care about this bit of information? If not, leave it out. CMC got the fast-food version of the Graham’s program which all agreed was too short. One CMC affiliate, Los Pequenos, is already talking about bringing the Graham's to New Mexico to present an extended workshop. CMC suggests calling it: “Arm the Church militant: with a rosary in one hand and a pen in the other!”

Christendom College’s Sunday Mass was a highlight for the group since many come from dioceses where reverence and majesty have all but disappeared. The college was celebrating the election of Pope Benedict XVI whose installation was scheduled for later that day. Fr. John Heisler, Chaplain, dressed in gold vestments and surrounded by young deacons also gloriously vested, entered the chapel behind six young men carrying vigil lamps on polls. They later knelt in front of the altar making an honor guard during the Eucharistic Prayer and Consecration. The incense, hymns and Gregorian chant led by a magnificent student choir carried the congregation to the threshold of God's throne. This is how the Second Vatican Council meant the novus ordo Mass to be celebrated. Repeating a popular statement going around the internet, Father announced during the homily that "the cafeteria is closed."

The CMC meeting ended appropriately having dinner with the media. A local reporter joined the group Sunday night to examine a wide range of concerns and issues — from members’ enthusiasm for the new pope, to heresy and dissent, Terri Schindler’s murder, Catholic doctrine, Planned Parenthood, stem cell research, etc.

During the coming year CMC hopes to expand its mission through outreach using Acts of the Apostles as a model. Each of the disciples cast out into the deep: Peter in Rome, Paul in the Mediterranean, Thomas in India, James the Greater in Spain, etc. They prayed and preached and brought people to Christ. CMC aims to follow faithfully in their giant footsteps.

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