Mother Teresa's order looks into opening mission in city

Religion Notes

January 30, 1992|By Jay Merwin

The Missionaries of Charity, the Catholic religious order begun by Mother Teresa, is looking into setting up a mission in Baltimore for its members to work among people who are poor or dying.

Representatives of the order came to the city last week in search of a suitable site. One place under consideration is the vacant convent at St. Wenceslaus Church at Collington and Ashland avenues in East Baltimore.

The Rev. William A. Au, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, said plans for the Missionaries of Charity to open a mission in the city are not final. But if the order and the archdiocese reach an agreement, he said, it could be announced within a few weeks.

Father Au said the order had not decided on a particular mission in Baltimore, though one possibility would be a place to care for people with acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

The order was founded by Mother Teresa, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for her work sheltering and caring for dying people from the streets of Calcutta in India. The order has missions in different parts of the world, including Washington and New York.

Synagogue's sanctuary restored:

After an extensive paint analysis for historical accuracy, the sanctuary of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, the third oldest in America, has been repainted in colors faithful to its appearance in 1871. The stenciling work, the last touches of the project, is expected to be finished this week.

The Jewish Historical Society carried out the project with a $15,000 grant from The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

A national expert in paint analysis worked with Bernard Fishman, the society director, in determining which layers of paint corresponded with various historical phases and changes to the building, starting with 1845. That was the year the synagogue was built, the first in Maryland.

Mr. Fishman said the society chose to repaint the sanctuary in the colors of 1871 mainly because that was the year of great historical importance for the synagogue. The congregation split then over a mixed choir of men and women, which was seen as a departure from traditional Jewish practice. The more traditional members left to build their own synagogue 150 feet away. Those who remained, Mr. Fishman said, were free to follow liberalizing tendencies in renovations to the architecture of the sanctuary as well as to the worship that went on there.

The society has another grant of $20,000 to restore the exterior. It also has installed eight stained-glass windows in the nearby synagogue that the more traditional, departing members built in 1876. Stained-glass windows are believed to have been part of the original design, Mr. Fishman said, but they were lost sometime after 1945.

The society owns both synagogues. The 1845 building no longer functions as a synagogue, but as a museum and as a place for Jewish historical programs. An Orthodox congregation, B'nai Israel, still worships in the 1876 synagogue.

Anti-cult group meetings:

The Cult Awareness Network, a national group that works against religious movements exerting authoritarian control over their members, is sponsoring a series of four talks in February in Baltimore County. The network, which consists of voluntary affiliates throughout the country, defines a cult as a group that uses deception and mind-control techniques to recruit and retain members. Mind-control techniques include claiming to know God's will for individual members and strategies of alienating members from their families or anyone else who might disapprove of the group's doctrine.

The talks will be held each Thursday night in February, from 7 to 9:30, at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church on Church Lane in Cockeysville.

The speakers, in order of appearance will be:

* Elizabeth Ryder, a nurse whose son was in a cult, on "General Cult Information/Mind Control."

* Doris Quelet, vice president of the network's Baltimore affiliate, on the "Shepherding/Discipleship Movement."

* The Rev. Larry Gesy, a priest who is a cults consultant to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, on the "New Age Movement."

* Donald Thompson, a soon-to-be retired Baltimore County police officer, on "The Occult/Satanism."

Fund-raising appeal:

The Archdiocese of Baltimore is starting an annual Lenten fund-raising appeal, similar to campaigns begun in several other Catholic dioceses in the United States, to maintain and expand the work of its churches, schools and social ministries.

The need for such an appeal became apparent in the late 1980s, said the Rev. William A. Au, the archdiocesan spokesman, as the souring economy increased demands on local aid programs. Archbishop William H. Keeler, who came to Baltimore in 1989, waited until now to launch the appeal because he wanted first to assess the financial needs of the various ministries in the archdiocese, Father Au said.

Archbishop Keeler announced the appeal last week. The goal this year is to raise $1.6 million from among the 451,000 Catholics in the archdiocese.

Send religious news items -- about events, local personalities, etc. -- to Religion Notes, c/o Jay Merwin, The Evening Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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