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Issue Date:  January 25, 2008

From the Editor's Desk

Few words, big story

When we discuss stories at NCR, we have a tendency to give great attention to the big story. It’s an occupational hazard among journalists, but not unlike the way most people, when telling the stories of their lives and the happenings of the day, turn first to the big adventure and the most exciting moment of a trip. Yet, for most of us, life is made of the small things and the small moments. The big occasions happen, certainly, like births and marriages, graduations and championships. But the more significant moments are often found in the incidentals: A smile, a thank you, a helping hand, a sunset, fixing a meal, giving a gift.

So too with NCR stories. Sometimes the more significant happenings never make it to the front page. Such is the story about Sr. Antona Ebo, the first African-American nun to take part in the historic voting rights demonstrations and marches in Selma, Ala., in 1962. (See story) She recently gave a talk at the Chicago Theological Union at an assembly honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The story doesn’t have many words, but it’s a very significant one. It’s the Gospel coming alive as she recounts the happenings in a small southern town, as we read about courage and hope when people take risks for the sake of justice.

This week’s cover image depicting Bernard Law is a story that is far from Selma, not only in distance, but in response to the Gospel. It’s a tragic story of brokenness and mission gone awry. The sexual abuse scandal revealed an extremely sad reality of our church, causing tremendous suffering and institutional fracturing. Yet, as a church, we embrace this, too, as part of the journey toward understanding our call to ministry. We do not live in a perfect church. We never have. Sin is always with us, but rather than succumb to its shackles, we must move beyond the darkness to the possibilities of what can be. Healing and reconciliation are long-term endeavors that as a church we cannot live without. Years may have passed since the revelations of the Boston scandals, but the healing and the listening must go on as we learn from the voices of those most hurt. We can learn; we must learn. Faithfulness to the Gospel requires nothing less.

Also in this week’s paper, we include a section on ministries and the various ways Catholics are responding to the call of the beatitudes. It’s an energizing and joy-filled collection of stories that reflect Catholicism at its best. The stories deal with hardships, but they also address our fundamental call to be community and the great satisfaction that comes when we reach out to others. It isn’t just a matter of good works and providing social services; ministry is about people sharing their lives in recognition of the dignity of every human being. There is much to be proud of within our church, and these stories provide a good sampling.

As we go to press, the Jesuits will be electing a new superior general to replace Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, who has held the post for 25 years. Since we will not be going to press for another two weeks, we will post the result of the election and other news from the chapter proceedings on our Web site as soon as we have it. Go to We wish the Jesuits well as they continue a rich tradition of serving the church for more than 450 years.

-- Sr. Rita Larivee, SSA

National Catholic Reporter, January 25, 2008

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