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Nation and world briefs


45 people saved from tornado in Texas church

WASHINGTON — In the insurance world, extreme weather events such as tornadoes are often referred to as "acts of God." But in the small Texas town of Emory, about 50 miles northwest of Tyler and 70 miles east of Dallas, some 45 people are considering it an act of God that they survived a twister that took out all of their church except for the hallway in which they were huddled. The providential event took place the evening of April 29, as severe storms tore through Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas on a northeasterly path that killed at least 13 people in three states. The youth ministry at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Emory was hosting a dinner honoring the parish's graduating high school seniors in conjunction with the parish's Knights of Columbus council and its ladies' guild.

Kansas family aids fellow farmers affected by fires

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Father Prakash Rao Kola was in Coldwater, Kansas, 30 miles east of Ashland, the afternoon of March 6 when he began to get frantic calls from parishioners. High winds were driving a fire — a big one — swiftly toward the southwestern Kansas town. People were warned to evacuate. Father Kola, a Missionary of St. Francis de Sales, raced back to St. Joseph Parish in Ashland, where he is pastor. As he got closer to town, he saw "miles and miles of smoke." The fire looked like it would consume the entire town. Law enforcement officers were driving up and down the streets, announcing on loudspeakers: "Evacuate, evacuate. Move fast, move fast." Father Kola took his passport and important documents and headed back to Coldwater and Holy Spirit Parish, where he also ministers. Father Kola spent two days in Coldwater, sleeping on the floor of the church. The largest prairie wildfire in Kansas history of Kansas had transformed much of Clark County into a land of ash.

Religious practices for Christians not influenced by education levels

WASHINGTON — Although higher educated U.S. adults are typically linked with lower levels of religious practice, a new study by the Pew Research Center shows that Christians are the exception to the rule. Among Christians, those with higher levels of education appear to be just as religious as those with less schooling and highly educated Christians are even more likely than less-educated Christians to say they are weekly churchgoers. Christians are also almost equally likely at all education levels to pray daily, attend worship services weekly and say they believe in God with absolute certainty. The study, released April 26, shows that 52 percent of highly educated Christians are most likely to say they are weekly churchgoers, compared with 45 percent of those with some college and 46 percent with at least some high school. The tendency for Christian college graduates to practice their religion on par with their less highly educated counterparts is evident across a variety of Christian traditions, but among evangelical Protestants, the numbers are highest. Eighty-seven percent of evangelical protestants with college graduates say they are highly religious. Those with some college education fall in at 83 percent; 82 percent of highly religious evangelicals have a high school diploma or less schooling.


Beatification dates set for Jesuit who converted from Anglicanism

DUBLIN — When Jesuit Father John Sullivan is beatified May 13, two archbishops — one Catholic and one Anglican — will present the solemn petition asking that the priest be declared "a blessed." That is unusual, but Father Sullivan's life straddled two centuries, two traditions and two cultures. Born in 1861, one of five children, John Sullivan grew up in privileged conditions in Ireland and Britain. He was raised in the Protestant tradition of his father, Sir Edward Sullivan, who rose to be lord chancellor of Ireland. His mother, Elizabeth, was a devout Catholic. Father Sullivan later wrote of "a blessed childhood in a happy, loving home" although, at age 16, he suffered the loss of an older brother through drowning. In Trinity College Dublin, he excelled in his studies of the classics. In 1885, the year of his father's death, Sullivan went to London to study law. In 1895, he traveled as part of a British government delegation to investigate a massacre in Adana, Turkey. A year later, at 35, he became a Catholic.

New head of Knights of Malta to lead reform efforts

ROME — The new lieutenant of the grand master of the Knights of Malta will lead efforts to reform the order following a tumultuous period that brought to light many of the ancient institution's internal disputes. Fra' Giacomo Dalla Torre, elected April 29 to lead the Knights of Malta for a one-year period, will work on a constitutional reform that "will address potential institutional weaknesses," the order said in a press release following the election. "The recent crisis has shown some weaknesses in the checks and balances in governance," it said. "The reform will take this into consideration." Born in Rome, Dalla Torre has been a member of the order since 1985 and held several prominent roles in the order's hierarchy. Following the death of the 78th grand master, Fra' Andrew Bertie, he served as lieutenant ad interim prior to the election of Fra' Matthew Festing. Dalla Torre's election closes a difficult chapter in the order's history and tensions that lead to Festing's resignation Jan. 24 at the behest of Pope Francis, who had established a commission to investigate his removal of the order's grand chancellor, Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager.

— Catholic News Service 

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