Students’ Art Selected in Missionary Childhood Association Contest

Joyful anticipation of Christmas was illustrated through artwork in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., where many of this year’s 24 winners of the Missionary Childhood Association Christmas Artwork Contest gathered Dec. 6 with their families for the annual awards presentation.

Contest winners from the Diocese of Harrisburg are Mary Grace Duncan of St. Columba School in Bloomsburg and Sydney Dissinger from Our Mother of Perpetual Help School in Ephrata. Their artwork, selected from among thousands of entries, is on display in the National Shrine throughout the 2019 Advent/Christmas season.

Youth Travel the World to Celebrate Christmas

Youth from across the Diocese experienced Christmas early on Saturday, Dec. 14, during the inaugural Around the World event. Coordinated by the Diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries, the event celebrated the Christmas traditions from various cultures, explaining their unique, yet similar, ways of celebrating the birth of Christ.

Before decorating stockings and playing a variety of games, the nearly 75 youth attending from throughout the Diocese learned about the Christmas traditions in Vietnam, Peru and Nigeria.

The Heart of Christmas

Recently, as I was driving to work, I switched on the radio to listen to some Christian music. To my chagrin, even though in my world it was Advent, the station was blaring Christmas music. I was totally tempted to turn off the radio and growl at the culture for not actually preparing for Christmas. However, a new song – at least to me – flooded my conscience: The Heart of Christmas by Matthew West.

As soon as the first few measures began, my soul hungered to listen to its message. At a very high level, the song talks about the busyness of this season and the pressure that we all put on ourselves to get Christmas just right. But the HEART of Christmas? No other than a babe lying in a manger – the feeding trough of animals.

Christmas Letter from Bishop Gainer 2019

Dear Friends in Christ,

As Advent hymns give way to Christmas carols, we cannot help but think of the song of the angels at Bethlehem 2,000 years ago: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men  (Luke 2:13-14).” It is a scene that returns again and again to our imaginations as we sing the music of this holy season to remind ourselves of the promise of Christmas.

Father Thomas R. Hoke Dies

Father Thomas R. Hoke pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Spring Grove, died suddenly on Dec.14. He was 70 years old.

Father Hoke was born in Hanover on May 16, 1949, to the late Henry J. Hoke and Pauline C. (Schrader) Hoke. He attended St. Joseph Catholic School in Hanover and graduated from Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown and earned a degree in Theology from Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. He served as a deacon at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Lancaster.

On a Mission with Coffee

Last November, with two master’s degrees in hand, Nicholas Higgins was planning to find a job as an industrial engineer in Florida.

Today, he’s in rural Newville, working to open a coffee shop to benefit the people of Honduras.

“I’ve had a total conversion. It is very clear that God has called me here,” Higgins said from behind a display counter, which will become the espresso bar and pastry case for his project, the San Jose Café.

Showcase at Sacred Heart in Lancaster Invites Community to Discover Catholic Schools

Late January in Catholic schools across the country brings a plethora of open houses, community service activities, schoolwide assemblies, special breakfasts with grandparents and the ever-popular dress-down day.

It also brings freezing rain, sleet and snow, and the cancellation of activities.

This year, the National Catholic Educational Association introduced a second week for Catholic schools to shine a light on their faith-based, educational and leadership values. Named “Discover Catholic Schools Week,” the national initiative invited schools to connect with families, donors and community members at a time when families are looking for the right school for their children.

A Perfect Gift

Soon after the birth of my son Charlie*, who has Down syndrome, a visitor asked whether he was “mild, moderate, or severe”—referring to his level of cognitive impairment. I knew the terminology, but the question shocked me. In my arms I held my beautiful baby boy, who defied easy categorization. Clinical labels may describe some aspects of an individual’s “functioning,” but they don’t tell the whole story. Labels could not describe how Charlie’s smile lit up a room or how the sweetness of his soul had captured our hearts so completely.

Autism Ambassador Energizes York Catholic Students to Reach for Dreams

A presentation at York Catholic High School on autism awareness on Nov. 22 was more pep rally than assembly, as 21-year-old Ben Hartranft captivated and energized students with his story of exceeding expectations while living on the spectrum.

“Hello everybody! This is Ben Hartfrant,” he eagerly summoned students over the public-address system. “I’m going to present your assembly today! Who’s excited?”

Holy Trinity School Helps Those in Need at Our Daily Bread

A week before Thanksgiving, the entire student body from Holy Trinity School in York carried donated food items from their campus to nearby Our Daily Bread, to assist the soup kitchen in preparing Thanksgiving meals.

Forming a line outside of the school, students carried bags of donated items – including fruit, oatmeal, sugar, instant coffee and tea, condiments, plastic cutlery and napkins – as Father Mark Weiss, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Dallastown, blessed the bounty.