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August 14, 2014


With summer drawing to a close and a new school year just around the corner, it's a good time to resume this column. And this week, three important matters deserve our attention and our action.

First, with the World Meeting of Families and a likely papal visit only 13 months away, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing has just released the official "preparatory catechesis" for the 2015 Philadelphia event. A copy of Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive will be sent, free of charge, to every pastor, school principal and parish director of religious education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. But it deserves a much wider audience.

Beautifully produced, very readable and rich in its presentation of Catholic teaching about marriage and the family, this is the sort of resource every adult Christian will find valuable. It's a great tool for preparing individuals, study groups and Catholic homes for the World Meeting of Families. Best of all, the cost is very modest thanks to the generous underwriting of production expenses by Our Sunday Visitor Institute.

Printed copies are available for purchase in English now; Spanish copies will be available in several weeks. Amazon will also have Kindle versions of the catechesis for sale before the end of August.

Copies of Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive may be purchased at the Our Sunday Visitor website for $9.95, with discounts for larger orders. It's well worth the cost. Over the coming weeks, OSV will be offering a wide range of additional devotional aids to help Catholics ready themselves for next year's Philadelphia event.

Note too that a parish preparation packet along with two sets of excellent lesson plans for Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive -- one for grades preK-8 and the other for grades 9-12 -- are also available now for download, free, at under "parish involvement."

Second, one of the most popular youth and young adult novels of the past 20 years -- Lois Lowry's Newberry Award-winning The Giver -- comes to movie screens tomorrow, August 15, thanks to Walden Media. Walden is the same family-friendly production and distribution company that released The Chronicles of Narnia films. Lowry's book has sold more than 10 million copies.

Some parents have found the novel too troubling or controversial for young children because of its subject matter. The story portrays a tightly controlled society of the future that runs on "Sameness," where memories and strong emotions are discouraged, conscience is virtually unknown, and defective infants, the elderly and dissenters are methodically sent to "Elsewhere" -- in other words, killed. One young man, chosen by the community to train as its "Receiver of Memories," is repelled by the secrets at the heart of the utopia. He sets in motion an awakening the human spirit.

This is a wonderful film. Nothing in the movie version of The Giver will offend a family. Just the opposite. It's an intelligent, absorbing, beautifully crafted film everyone should see. This is a major production of a great story, well above standard "family" fare in quality, rendered by an excellent cast -- Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift and others. It shouldn't be missed.

Third and finally, across the archdiocese this weekend, on August 17, we'll be offering prayers for the many tens of thousands of our fellow Christians suffering under Islamic extremism in Iraq and Syria. As Pope Benedict said several years ago and Pope Francis has stressed increasingly in recent months, Christians are now the most persecuted religious community in the world. Western news media have too often distinguished themselves by their ignorance and indifference in covering this terrible issue. Meanwhile a murderous "Caliphate" conducts a campaign of killing, abduction and slavery against one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, many of whose people are fellow Catholics.

Please pray for the suffering Christians of the Middle East. And then contact your federal elected officials to press this administration to act vigorously, in every way possible, to defend Iraqi and Syrian Christians from the campaign of violence against them.

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Editor's Note: Columns will be published each week on and can also be found at

Kenneth A. Gavin
Director of Communications

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