Megan Sweas

Writer, Editor, Student of Life



With Religious Affiliation on the Decline, What Should Happen to Hallowed Buildings?

Published by Washington Post’s Acts of Faith blog and USC CRCC, July 16, 2015

Katy Perry wants to live in a convent. Continue reading “With Religious Affiliation on the Decline, What Should Happen to Hallowed Buildings?”

Cristo Rey and Education Reform: Megan Sweas in conversation with Sarah Karp at Printers Row Lit Fest

I will be at Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Lit Fest on Sunday, June 7, to talk about my book about the Cristo Rey model of education. Continue reading “Cristo Rey and Education Reform: Megan Sweas in conversation with Sarah Karp at Printers Row Lit Fest”

What Ireland’s “Yes” Vote for Gay Marriage Says About Being Catholic

Published by the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture, May 29, 2015

With 62 percent of Ireland voting for the legalization of gay marriage, both liberal and conservative commentators have lamented/celebrated the death of the church in Ireland this week.

“The Irish Church’s failures have caused its people to choose secularism over faith,” bemoaned one headline from the UK Catholic Herald, referencing the church’s sordid sex abuse scandal.

“One wonders what it will take for Americans to become as embittered, and liberated, as the Irish,” Jay Michaelson said on The Daily Beast. Continue reading “What Ireland’s “Yes” Vote for Gay Marriage Says About Being Catholic”

Migrants find welcome with Italian church

Published by National Catholic Reporter, January 27, 2015

ROME AND SICILY — August in Italy is a usually a time for rest and relaxation. But on one Saturday in the summer of 2013, beachgoers in Catania, Sicily, found a boat full of migrants that had crashed off the city’s shore. Continue reading “Migrants find welcome with Italian church”

Italian convents act as safe houses in trafficking portal

Published in Global Sisters Report, January 12, 2015

The girl was waiting at the sisters’ gate one morning in August.

Before her 18th birthday, Elizabeth had already traveled across the Sahara and the Mediterranean on her way from Nigeria to Europe and spent six months in a brothel in Denmark. She was being prepared to start working on the streets of Italy when she found her way to Casa Rut, a safe house for trafficking victims. Continue reading “Italian convents act as safe houses in trafficking portal”

Evangelical crisis hotline finds new future with Catholic diocese

Published by National Catholic Reporter, June 6-19 issue

IMG_5820For her three-hour volunteer training session, Louise Dunn does not have any props. She only turns to illustrate a concept on the white board once. And yet she has the full attention of 22 trainees for the New Hope Crisis Counseling Center, a faith-based suicide prevention hotline.

“I will tell you, the first calls you will get with New Hope, you will remember,” she says. “They’re profound.”

New Hope is more than 45 years old, but for many of the Catholics in the room, the training is their introduction to the program. A year ago, the evangelical ministry was just days away from shutting down before being saved by Catholic Charities. The survival of New Hope represents both the need and potential for a more robust faith-based response to mental health.

Saving the program

On the other side of Orange County, megachurch pastor Rick Warren has used the loss of his son, who died by suicide last year, to turn attention to mental health. His Saddleback Church partnered with the Catholic Diocese of Orange to host the largest gathering on the topic in March.

But mental health is not a new issue for churches.

New Hope started in 1968 at a young Garden Grove Community Church, one of the original megachurches. …

Read more in the digital edition of NCR

Tucson diocese rescues schools in partnership with new Notre Dame program

Published by National Catholic Reporter, March 20, 2014

Omar Pro Montaño looked into sending his daughter to Catholic school years ago, but he couldn’t afford the then $5,200 tuition at St. John the Evangelist Catholic School in Tucson.

“If I was financially set, it would have been a no-brainer,” Pro Montaño said. “I would have gone with a little less to make sure she went.”

But at that time, Pro Montaño was in school so that he could take care of his family. He is a barber and his wife is a prep cook, and money has always been tight for the family of five. Pro Montaño wants better for his kids. Amirah and her little brother, Omar, earned good grades in the public school. He and his wife keep them busy and out of trouble through sports and activities. …


Note: Only available to subscribers. To read this story, contact Megan.

Conference takes aim at Christians’ silence on mental illness

Published by National Catholic Reporter, March 31, 2014

Saddleback Church GatheringLake Forest, Calif. — When Deacon Tom Lambert speaks about his experience parenting a child with mental illness in parishes around the country, people come up to him after Mass crying with stories of their own to share.

“It was the first time they felt comfortable enough to tell that story,” he said, addressing The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church on Friday at Saddleback Church.

Nearly a year after the suicide of Saddleback pastor Rick Warren’s son, the evangelical megachurch, the Catholic diocese of Orange, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) partnered to break Christians’ silence on mental health issues through the daylong conference. About 3,300 evangelical Christians and Catholics attended the gathering, and more than 6,000 watched live online, according to a news release about the event.

As pastor of one of the largest churches in the country, Warren grieved the loss of his son, Matthew, in public. “Kay and I have always known that someday we would be spokespeople for mental illness because God never wastes a hurt,” Warren said. …


Fr. John Dear, Dismissed from Jesuits

Published by Religion Dispatches, March 5, 2014

John Dear“This week, with a heavy heart, I am officially leaving the Jesuits after 32 years.” This was how Fr. John Dear announced his dismissal from the Jesuit order in his NCR column in January—a “divorce” (as Joshua McElwee put it that same week) that seemed to many to have been inevitable, if deeply regrettable. Dear, a widely respected peace activist, has been arrested over 75 times for civil disobedience, but it was his “obstinate disobedience” toward the directives of his Jesuit superiors that resulted in his dismissal.

He talks here with RD about his commitment to radical nonviolence, the future of the Church—and closes by offering some strong words to the spiritual-but-not-religious cohort.

MS: You recently published The Nonviolent Life, and you describe it as the culmination of your life’s work. What is a nonviolent life and why is it so important?

JD: Nonviolence is the center of Christianity and all world religions. It is the most needed thing in the world. Mahatma Gandhi insisted it is possible, and Martin Luther King, Jr. said that if we don’t do it, we will destroy ourselves. …


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