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Using Digital Technology, Archbishop 'Meets' Students
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Tuesday, February 16, 2010
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CINCINNATI (CNS)—Soon after Pope Benedict XVI asked priests around the world to make use of modern communications technology to preach the Gospel, Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr did just that in a meeting with area Catholic high school students.

A Feb. 4 event co-sponsored by La Salle High School and The Catholic Telegraph, the archdiocesan newspaper, brought the archbishop together with seniors from eight Catholic high schools through videoconferencing technology.

Surrounded by a group of La Salle students in the school's library and media center, Archbishop Schnurr answered their questions and those posed by students from the other schools, viewing the questioners on a large screen. The students at each of the schools were able to see and hear the archbishop and the other students.

In a wide-ranging hourlong session, they asked about many topics, including promoting a consistent ethic of life, ecumenism, changes in the church since the Second Vatican Council, the Latin Mass, just wars, teachers' salaries, vocations and the archbishop's own high school experiences and his role models.

Andy Kurzhals, a senior from Elder High School, asked if the archbishop was concerned about people leaving the Catholic Church to attend local megachurches.

The archbishop said he was concerned and said Catholics need to look at how they are delivering the "compelling" message of Christ. "How do we do a better job of helping people hear it?" he asked the students.

Regarding vocations, the archbishop explained that the word itself means "calling," and said people need to talk about the vocation every person has, whether it's single life, married life, the priesthood or religious life.

Catherine Junker from McAuley High School asked the archbishop how he balances a busy schedule. He told students that when God calls a person to a vocation, he gives the person the graces they need to carry it out.

McNicholas High School senior Austin van Dusen asked if the war in Afghanistan meets the just-war criteria as set forth in Catholic social teaching. Archbishop Schnurr said the conflict was initially troubling when held to the criteria, but said he believed that pulling American troops out now would worsen the county's plight.

Later, Purcell-Marian student Bo Tidwell asked about how the church can raise the salaries of teachers at Catholic schools to be on par with their public school counterparts. The archbishop said he would rely on professional laypeople to advise him on how both salaries and the schools themselves could be better funded in the future.

He was on the spot when asked by a Moeller High School student what he liked best about Cincinnati.
"Uh-oh. All eyes just turned to me," he said, going on to explain that since he was raised in Iowa, he was happy to be back in the region. People in the Midwest are "very down to earth, hospitable and have great faith," he said.

Then-Bishop Schnurr was head of the Diocese of Duluth, Minn., when he was named coadjutor archbishop of Cincinnati in October 2008. He automatically became archbishop when Archbishop Daniel C. Pilarczyk retired Dec. 22.

Courtney Craig of Purcell-Marian High School asked Archbishop Schnurr if he thought priestly celibacy should be mandatory. He said he believed the demands placed on a priest are so great "that I don't know how you'd also be a good father and husband." His own family worried that he was going have a lonely life, he admitted, but said it has not been that way at all.

He encouraged students not to wait to be invited to participate in the life of the parish and the church, but to step up, saying that he would like to see youths serving on parish councils and even on archdiocesan councils. He also urged them to participate in retreats to truly meet Christ and begin a lifelong relationship with him.

"Stay open to what Christ has in mind for you," he said.

La Salle High School was selected as the host site for the archbishop's interaction with students because it is inaugurating a new video facility this semester. La Salle students will soon be producing weekly news shows, student movies, documentaries and videos for the Web.


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