April 30, 2015

By Monde M Donaldson
Speaker: Most Reverend Thomas J. Rodi
Archbishop of Mobile
Invocation, Song Music and Pledge
Ken Robinson called the meeting to order. Richard Wilkins gave the invocation.
Tom Martinstein led the song and pledge. He was accompanied by Les Greer.
Student of the Week
Ernest Holloway of Lillie B Williamson High School was recognized as the Student of the Week. He was introduced by Saty Putcha.
Archbishop Thomas Rodi gave an overview of the Archdiocese of Mobile. The archdiocese is comprised of the 28 southern counties in Alabama, and encompasses half the state. The Cathedral parish was established in 1703 making it the oldest in the Mississippi Valley. There are 30 churches in Mobile and 12 in Baldwin County.  Catholic Social Services serves 11,000 in Mobile County and 5,000 clients in Baldwin County both Catholic and non-catholic. This year, the Archdiocese has broken ground on St. Michael’s Catholic High School, the first Catholic high school in Baldwin County and McGill-Toolen Catholic High School is in the midst of second phase of building for their capital campaign. There is also a new social services center under construction on Florida Street.
The archbishop noted that when Bishop Michael Portier, Mobile’s first bishop came to Mobile he faced several major challenges. They were: serving the poor, passing on the faith to families and youth, finding priests, serving immigrants, raising money for ministries, the scandalous behavior of clergy and laws facing the country troubling to the teaching of the church. Ironically, these are the same issues facing the church today, he said.
Archbishop Rodi focused his talk on religious liberties. They have been a core value of our American and religious history, he said. Today, there are troubling times where respect  for these values has come into question under the US Department of Health and Human Services guidelines, he said. The Constitution says we are entitled to free exercise of religion, he said. In the months to come, the Little Sisters of the Poor will be challenging the right of the government to impose certain laws and mandates.
In the past century, the Catholic Church has had outstanding men such as, Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II who experienced fascism and Communism in their countries, he explained.  The political climate of their home countries promoted that your dignity came from the state. Courageously, these bishops would remind their countrymen and the world that your rights and your dignity were given to you by God. The founders of our country made it clear where our rights came from, he said. The Bill of Rights is to be respected by the government. The archbishop’s plea for  respect for fundamental rights was met with a standing ovation.
The meeting was adjourned.