I ran across several blog posts and articles over the New Year looking back at 2011 and looking forward to 2012. Both looked up at reasons for hope rather than down and reasons to be discouraged. Let me share a few with you:
The Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College in Kansas offers seven events of 2011 which are cause for hope in the future. The lasting impact of the 1993 World Youth Day event here in Denver is shown in a rise in both priestly and family vocations. 2011 marked the year "Denver babies" started college. The Penn State and Hollywood sex abuse scandals provide an opportunity for the Catholic Church to move from villain to advocate. Catholicism, the book and video series by Fr. Robert Barron featured in several Catholic lists and was said to mark the merger of the New Evangelization with excellence in media production. Read more about these and the rest of the items on Gregorian's list here.
Catholic Vote's Top Ten Reasons for Hope also mentioned the World Youth Day movement as well as the youth involvement in events like the March for Life event in January. Coming in at #10 on their list is an event I would have put at the top - Geron Corporation's abandonment of embryonic stem cell research. While adult stem cell-based therapies continue to march forward with new hope for patients, embryo-destructive stem cell research has hit a road block which may spell a sea change. Watch the video here.
And, for the Anglophiles among us, Peter Oborne takes a look at The Return to Religion. After suffering a decades-long decline, church attendance in England is on the rise. The increase in attendance at Sunday services is particularly noticeable in London. As the neighborhood post office, grocery and doctor's surgery close, the church steeple remains and becomes more inviting. As these community fixtures continue to disappear, the churches and members are finding news ways to connect to their communities.