Happy Valentine’s Day! Like last year, we are following the example of longtime Catholic journalist, Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, and sending some valentines to a few fellow Catholics who gladden our hearts.
A red valentine for the newly red hatted Cardinal Michael Czerny. Undersecretary for the Office of Migrants and Refugees in the Vatican’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development, Cardinal Czerny has had a long history of promoting social justice and care for the poor. Much to his surprise, Pope Francis named a Cardinal last year. He wears a pectoral cross made from the wood of a migrant’s boat.
No one handles the Twitter trolls like Elizabeth Bruenig and this is only one of the reasons she deserves a valentine. Bruenig consistently offers solid analysis, wit and inspiration in her essays and her online presence. Her tweets and writing about motherhood, politics, and faith both challenge us to think deeper and to smile more.
A valentine on fire for Bishop Barron and his team at Word on Fire. With great attention to Pope Francis’s call for a deepened commitment to evangelization, Word on Fire offers so many resources for both Catholics and non-Catholics alike to learn about the riches of the Catholic intellectual tradition. Whether it is through their podcasts, online classes through the new Word on Fire institute, documentaries, or the Evangelization and Culture journal, they have found ways to hand on the faith in a way that is both accessible and marked by theological depth.
Shannen Dee Williams deserves a valentine. If you haven’t read some of her articles on why #BlackHistoryisCatholicHistory, you should. Williams is engaged in the critical work of documenting the untold stories of Black Catholic sisters in the United States; both the discrimination and segregation they experienced as well as the heroic and Church-changing lives they lived. Every Catholic should be grateful for her truth-telling and the ways she is calling the Church to a purification of both memory and current practice.
For telling painful and beautiful stories, a valentine for Michael O’Loughlin. O’Loughlin’s recent podcast, “Plague: Untold Stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church” explores the stories of how AIDS patients faced discrimination in the Church but also how they found meaning in their Catholic faith to make meaning out of their suffering. He also shares the stories of innovative and courageous church workers who cared for AIDS patients. He has uncovered stories that are both heart wrenching and warming and he knows how to tell them.
A spiritual bouquet of prayers for the soul of Kobe Bryant and his family. With a looming legacy in the basketball world, Kobe’s excellence on the court was paralleled by a commitment to his Catholic faith. His sudden and tragic death sparked many emotional tributes, including this (Complicated) Prayer for Kobe.
A handmade valentine to the nuns working at the border. More than 700 Catholic sisters have gone to the U.S./Mexico Border since 2018 to volunteer their services to migrants and refugees. You can read about some of their work in this feature by TIME. At a time when the Church has lost credibility in many secular circles, Catholics like these sisters provide a witness to the beauty, tenacity, and intensity of the Gospel to the world.
Rose are red violets are blue, Padraig O Tuama reads poetry and you can too. O Tuama hosts the new poetry podcast, Poetry Unbound, at Onbeing. Not only does he introduce great poetry, O Tuama provides a short analysis and reflection on each poem that helps the listener learn to more deeply appreciate poetry. Many of the poems deal with explicitly religious themes and O Tuama draws from his own Catholic background when sharing how the poem resonated with him.
A Catholic valentine should be sent to Kristen Day. Day represented pro-life voters with both class and courage at a town hall with Pete Buttigeg last month. As the Executive Director of Democrats for Life, she has been an advocate for a deeper commitment not only to the pro-life cause, but to creating spaces that aren’t hostile to the notion that pro-life view on abortion. For Catholics who are trying to navigate their political homelessness in this murky political season, Day is both an advocate and a model.
A valentine to Fr. Bryan Massingale for his courageous work and writing. Massingale’s work on racial justice and the Catholic Church has helped numerous Catholics come to grips with the call to conversion, both personally and communally, when it comes to racism. He is also an advocate for other marginalized groups including the LGBTQ+ community. Father Massingale recently shared his own story of pain and joy in navigating his own identity in the Church.