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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.…

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Listening with the Heart

Words. Words. Words. In today’s culture, words are little packets of information that fly from our fingers or our months with little or no thought. I never truly thought much about words until I began writing for The Catholic Witness. Writing causes me to slow down and actually reflect on…

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From Dismissive Shrugs to First Vows

Sitting at Mass during her freshman year at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School in Coal Township 20 years ago, Mary Mensch shrugged off the celebrant’s message about homegrown vocations. When Father Charles Persing predicted, “There will be one priest and one sister from this student body,” Mensch allowed the…

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Be a ‘Thanks-Giver’

Recently, a colleague came up to me in our employee break room and announced, “I have a challenge for you!” “Really?” I asked, “Please explain.” He said that for about 20 years, he has felt a whole lot of anger toward the culture’s ingratitude. “We have all forgotten what Thanksgiving…

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Inaugural Summit Gives Best Practices for Communications

In an outreach to parishes and schools on best practices for websites, social media and media relations, the Diocesan Communications Office presented its inaugural Communications Summit, Nov. 13 at the Diocesan Center in Harrisburg. The interactive training offered ideas, tips and “how-to’s” for effective communications, including ways to connect to…

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