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From: The site of the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
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First place: Dennis Charek, Dayton, Mary Garden in spring

Second place: Mary Lynn Cole, grandchildren with container Mary Garden they made at a Good Shepherd Parish function

Third place: Trey Rouse, him and daughter Marissa after completing their Mary Garden father-daughter project on Mother’s Day

Now accepting Mary Garden photo entries for July! Three winners – gift cards of $50 and $25 – enter as many times as you like. Send entries to gfinke@catholiccincinnati.org. Winners will be featured online and in our print edition.

Dennis Charek Mary Garden 1st placeDennis Charek Mary Garden 1st place 2nd Place Mary Cole in Show us your Mary Garden.2nd Place Mary Cole in Show us your Mary Garden. 3rd Place, Trey Rouse and Daughter Marissa in Show us your Mary Garden. 3rd Place, Trey Rouse and Daughter Marissa in Show us your Mary Garden.
10 hours 40 min

Editor’s Note: This is the entire inaugural address by Dr. H. James Williams, the seventh president of Mount Saint Joseph University. The story is in the June 2017 edition of The Catholic Telegraph.

I woke this morning thinking, how blessed I am to be associated with a Living Legend. And I am not referring only to at least a couple of persons in this theatre with us this morning. I am referring to Mount St. Joseph University! This venerable institution of higher education. And I know that, perhaps, your first reaction is to recoil and ask, “Has he lost his mind?” Most of us usually think of colleges and universities as the bricks and mortar they often display most prominently. And perhaps many, if not most, are, indeed, the inanimate objects that represent themselves. However, the Mount, as we affectionately refer to her, is a living, breathing, being and has been for a long, long time. The Mount is people – and not just any people – it is us – all of us, and not just faculty, staff, and students, but all of us in this theatre; indeed, all of us and any of us who love this institution, give to this institution, want this institution to thrive or even to just survive. The Mount is every student, faculty member, and staff member, who walked through these hallowed halls at some time or another, or supported this University over its many years of life. And it’s up to us, now, to assure that she continues to live – and really live! Indeed, it is our time to move her closer to immortality – until it’s time for us to pass along an even better, more impactful Mount to those who will follow us!

Today marks a passing of the mantle to us – again, all of us. We are the Mount. And from our founding, in 1920 to this very morning, we have always done what was necessary to be successful – that is, to achieve our overall purposes – as embodied in our mission, values, and beliefs.

And as I watched my children grow, develop physically and mentally, and evolve and as I think of my own personal and professional development, I know that it happens continuously – but also in leaps and spurts. And, now, it is time for the Mount, time for us, to take another “big leap” forward. However, to do so, we must, as we have in the past, let go of petty fears and attachments to some of the ways we have always done things, and act boldly, definitively, and, of course, collectively! Our foundresses, the Sisters of Charity, and those who have come before us have shown us how – over many, many years, and over many, many challenges. IT’S, NOW, OUR TURN AND IT’S OUR TIME!

Good morning – and allow me to welcome you to Mount St. Joseph University, to this University Theatre, and to this Presidential Inauguration! We are so very happy and excited to share this special day with all of you – our very special guests!

Before I begin my inauguration comments, per se, I need to express thanks to some very special persons who are here today. Please indulge me.
(1) First, I must thank the Mount St. Joseph University Family, faculty, staff, students, Alumni, Board of Trustees, and the Sisters of Charity for the trust they place in me to lead this wonderful institution. I am, indeed, humbled.
(2) Also, please allow me to thank Linda Liebau, Sister Mary Ann Flannery, and the Inauguration Committee, who have worked so diligently and exquisitely to make these three days possible.
(3) I also must thank my lovely wife – and the Mount’s First Lady – Carole Campbell Williams, for her love, support, and commitment to the work we do; she and I have been doing our thing as a team, now, for 29 years. I am a blessed man.
(4) I thank my children, daughter, Michelle McAlister, son-in-law, Tory McAlister, and my son, Garrett Williams, and his guest, Rabiath Mama. God blessed Carole and me with some very special children.
(5) I extend a very special “thank you” to my mother, retired Pastor, Reverend Lula Mae Williams, my very First Lady, if you will; she has always been there for me, through the good and bad and especially when I was at my lowest. I learned some valuable leadership lessons over the years, just observing my mother in her work as Pastor. Unfortunately, my father could not make it, due to some health issues. Still, I want to thank him, in his absence.
(6) I also want to thank and acknowledge the First Lady’s siblings, niece, and grand-niece; that is a very tightly knitted group. They have traveled from across the Country to celebrate this inauguration with us.
(7) And I would like to recognize all my siblings and relatives here this morning, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and grand-nieces and nephews, all of whom traveled more than 400 miles to be here. They have nurtured me, served as role models for me, and supported me for as long as I can remember. Thank you!
(8) I also have great friends and former colleagues who traveled from Grand Valley State University, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to be with us today: Vonnie and Antonio Herrera; John and Jenny Reifel; and George and Beverly Grant. Thanks, everyone.
(9) I need to say thanks to a couple of other friends, and mentors of mine: Dr. Dave Ricchiute, Professor of Auditing at the University of Notre Dame. Dave was such a great friend and role model as I began my career in higher education, at the University of Notre Dame, as a young 27-year-old, trying to learn how to be an effective faculty member.

And I must acknowledge Dr. Hazell Reed, Retired Educator and Senior Level Administrator, my good friend and mentor as I began my first dean job, as dean of the Delaware State University School of Business. He taught me so very much about how to be an effective senior-level administrator in higher education.
(10) And it is my distinct pleasure to recognize President Emeritus Arend “Don” Lubbers, of Grand Valley State University – and his lovely wife, Nancy. President Lubbers served at Grand Valley State University, where I spent almost nine years as Dean of the Seidman College of Business. President Lubbers served Grand Valley with distinction for more than 32 years and set a sterling example for me of how to provide leadership in a higher education setting. Indeed, he was one of the first college presidents to encourage me to consider opportunities to serve in the president’s role. Thank you, President Lubbers.
(11) I know there are other college and university presidents and chancellors in the theatre; please stand, as you can, to be recognized. We appreciate what you do individually and collectively for higher education – in this Country and around the world.
(12) Finally, I need to give a big thanks to all the delegates this morning, especially the Mount alums who have come back to honor their Alma Mater on this very special day. I also extend Carole’s and my special thanks to the new Mounties – that is, those alums of the class of 1967 who are celebrating their Golden Anniversary! Congratulations, Ladies!

As I said, this is a very special day – in large part because it is about so much more than any president. This is a special day in the life of the University because, today, we pause for only a brief moment – in the overall scheme of things – to celebrate our past, our present, and to anticipate and celebrate our future! Indeed, what we are really here to do is to celebrate and share with all of you, and each other, the essence of WHO WE ARE!

President Lincoln admonished us, many years ago, that we must be careful to acknowledge the cause-and-effect facts of life; he noted that “there are no accidents, for every effect must have its cause. The past is the cause of the present and the present will be the cause of the future.” I understand and appreciate this truism. Consequently, I must begin by recognizing and paying homage to Saint Elizabeth Bayley Seton, who founded the Sisters of Charity, in 1809, in Emmitsburg, Maryland. We also pause to honor the four Sisters of Charity who sojourned from Emmitsburg to Cincinnati to serve this community, in 1829. On March 25, 1852,
(1) Sister Margaret George,
(2) Sister Josephine Harvey,
(3) Sister Regina Mattingly,
(4) Sister Gonzalva Dougherty
(5) Sister Anthony O’Connell,
(6) Sister Sophia Gilmeyer, and
(7) Sister Antonia McCaffrey
became the first official “Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.” We sing all their praises, for if it were not for that noble group of Sisters we would not be here today!

The Sisters made a significant impact on this Cincinnati region for many years, serving it in so many important ways and toward so many important ends, especially in teaching and healthcare, including fighting pandemics, and building hospitals, many of which also housed nursing schools.

In the aftermath of World War I, and almost immediately after the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, in 1920, the Sisters decided it was time to expand educational opportunities for women in society, so they opened the doors of Mount St. Joseph University – at that time “The College of Mount St. Joseph on the Ohio!”

I want to thank all the leaders who have charted the path forward for Mount St. Joseph University since that founding: beginning with the “Mothers General” of the-then “College of Mount St. Joseph on the Ohio,” who led the University as de facto presidents until (1) “Dean” Sister Maria Corona became the first official President, in 1959. She was followed, in turn, by (2) Sister Adele Clifford, (3) Dr. Robert E. Wolverton, (4) Sister Jean Patrice Harrington, (5) Sister Francis Marie Thrailkill, and (6) Dr. Anthony Aretz. Each of these outstanding leaders made a difference in this place and helped to make the Mount what it is today.

And we are specially blessed this morning to have with us the fourth President of Mount St. Joseph University, Sister Jean Patrice Harrington! Please help me show our love and appreciation for Sister Jean Patrice Harrington – our President Emerita!! [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Sister Jean Patrice for the work you did to help the University achieve its current status in this community, across the Nation, and around the world. I want you to know you continue to inspire all of us here at the Mount, especially Carole and me. Thank you.

And if I may, Sister Jean Patrice, I would like to share a quote from your inauguration acceptance speech that so well describes my sentiments at this moment. On November 6, 1977, you quoted St. Paul and, now, so do I: “I am given to you by God that I might serve you and that, together, we might serve him.” Thank you, Sister Jean Patrice.

As former President Wolverton remarked during his inauguration address, “…the facts and figures of this venerable institution are well documented and readily available.” On the other hand, those facts fall short of describing who we are as an institution of higher education. First-and-foremost, we are a Catholic-Christian University, ecumenical in nature and catering to those of great faith, those of little faith, and those of no faith. Indeed, we serve the needs, and embrace those, of all faiths! Moreover, we believe in and subscribe to the tenets of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and view faith and reason, as mutually re-enforcing. Finally, we are an institution founded by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, with a charism of charity, simplicity, and humility and “daring to risk a caring response” in everything we do and every assignment we undertake.

We take great pride in helping students understand and appreciate that, while they must know what to do, that is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient; they must also know WHY they do it and HOW to do it: with compassion and caring.

This is who we have been since our founding, in 1920.
This history of challenges, opportunities, and accomplishments, the Mount embraces with relish; it is WHO WE WERE, as reflected in the actions and strength of the Sisters and those who have preceded us.

Present
Of course, since the past is the cause of the present, it is also WHO WE ARE!
Who are we?
Late on Monday morning, eight little children 3, 4, and 5 year-olds, from our 5-Star-award winning Children’s Center walked into my office; then, they all sat and sang Louie Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” to the First Lady and me. We also received beautiful smiles, hugs, and a huge postcard proclaiming “We Love You!”

Who are we?
As I arrived to work yesterday morning it was approximately 6:30 – and the grounds crew was also arriving as I made my way to the building. One of my colleagues, who takes such great care of our beautiful lawns and gardens, greeted me with a warm “good morning” and big smile and nodded in the direction of the sunrise. He said to me “what a beautiful way to begin the day”; and I agreed. He went on, “Mr. President, I get to watch the beautiful sunrises, along with my good friend – as he motioned toward our other colleague on the grounds crew – and I get to watch the sunsets with my wife; what a beautiful life!” And I just thought to myself: Wow!

And I as I continued my walk into the office I reflected on Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton’s “Grace of the Present Moment,” as my colleague, English Professor Buffy Barkley, so aptly quoted her in one of Dr. Barkley’s writings. We talk about that a lot around here: “The grace of the present moment.” We remind ourselves to be truly present in the moment and to pause and recognize the grace of the present moment. It inspires me, often.

If you really want to know who we are, read the many quotes we have inscribed on the walls throughout the Campus – like the one on the wall just down the hall, by Aristotle: “To educate the mind, without educating the heart, is no education at all.”

These stories and quotes, indeed, speak to who we are today, in terms of character, heritage, hope, fortitude, and desire! Fundamentally, and at the core, we are who we were and who we will forever be: a Catholic-Christian, ecumenical, diversity-embracing institution of higher education, practicing and celebrating charity, simplicity, and humility, while daring to risk a caring response. Moreover, these underlying values continue to sustain us as we fulfill our mission of delivering a quality, interdisciplinary liberal-arts-based education that effectively integrates professional curricula, while emphasizing values, integrity, and social responsibility.

Our liberal arts focus is not by happenstance or serendipity. The Sisters of Charity understood, from the outset, the importance of a liberal education; that is to say a “liberating” educational experience is critical if students are to develop themselves in ways that allow – and even promote – life-long learning and commitments to the common good. As a liberal education institution of higher learning we focus, first-and-foremost, on the development of the intellectual skills sets (i.e., those skill sets that facilitate and sustain our learning over our lifetimes). These skills include reading, writing, listening, speaking, communicating, critical thinking, and problem solving, including analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating, and even creating. A “Liberal Education” is a “liberating” set of experiences oriented towards facilitating the developing and nurturing of the intellectual skill sets. Indeed, as former President Thrailkill noted, in her inauguration speech, “…it liberates from ignorance, indifference, and isolationism…”

Of course, that is not to denigrate the importance of the professional skills sets, which are also very important. In fact, the Mount touts and promotes the developing of the professional skill sets, as well, which is especially relevant, given our core values, especially the “integration of life and learning.” We expect students to, not only know what to, or even just to know why and how – we also expect them to actually do it. To integrate life and learning.

Indeed, perhaps our most compelling pedagogical core strength is our purposeful focusing on and ability to teach, promote, and nurture the best of both: the intellectual skill sets and the professional skill sets. Indeed, our academic programs offerings espouse the best of both.

The Mount offers more than 40 academic programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels, including a new Liberal Arts Major, which combines the best of traditional liberal arts majors, allowing concentrations within that major, and which evolved, organically, through the entrepreneurial spirit of our Arts & Sciences faculty. We offer music and graphic and other arts programs, as well as sterling Business and Education programs, at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

On the other hand, the Mount is probably best known for our truly outstanding and long-standing health sciences curricula, which build upon our terrific behavioral and natural sciences programs, including Chemistry, Biology, Bio-Medical, Social Work, and Psychology programs. Our undergraduate and graduate programs in Health and Wellness, Athletic Training, and Nursing have distinguished themselves and hold great promise for the future, including our doctoral programs in Nursing Practice and Physical Therapy – and our most recent addition, a Physician Assistant graduate program (which kicks off in January of 2018)!

In terms of professional skill sets development, the Mount understands and appreciates that to meet its mission and its values of the integration of life and learning – and service above all – we must provide students the wherewithal to apply that learning where we live and where it matters most.

Consequently, we support professionalism and career development opportunities for students, primarily through our, first-in-the-Country “Education-at-Work” partnership, our Talent Opportunity Program, Internships and Co-ops with for-profit companies, Summer Internships with not-for-profits, an abundance of Service Learning opportunities, and even more pure community service opportunities. In fact, service is one of our core values and strengths, as the University continues to earn national recognitions for service, including the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. As a case-in-point, the very first component of these Inauguration days to be identified and tied-down was tomorrow’s service activities. Moreover, as we prepare to celebrate our Centennial, in 2020, we have already identified what the service activity will be for the year-long celebration.

All these opportunities to apply what they learn in real-world settings sets our students apart and make them especially attractive to employers. In fact, more than 78% of our students have some type of hands-on experience prior to graduation. All these components, working together, resulted in the most recent Placement Rates of 95% for undergraduate students and 98% for graduate students. That is to say, within six months of completing their degrees, 95% of our undergraduate students are either in full-time jobs related to their majors or have been admitted to graduate schools.

I could go on and on, enumerating the wonderful things faculty, staff, students, and alums are doing on Campus and in the communities we serve and support across the Country. However, I also know that, while we must honor the past and take cognizance of the present, we must always think about creating the most appropriate future for the Mount and its constituents. The question is always “What have you done for me lately!” So we look forward, in eager anticipation, of the future we are forging for the Mount and the communities we serve.

Future

… the present will be the cause of the future! We take this admonishment especially seriously. Consequently, we have begun to develop a vision for what the Mount must become. It’s time for another growth spurt!
Transformation 2025 is a vision we are developing for what the Mount must be by 2025 to continue to fulfill its mission at the highest levels. In other words, AS Wayne Gretsky would say, “we are skating to where the puck will be” at that time. “Transformation 2025” is being developed to accelerate Mount St. Joseph University’s ability to deliver a high quality, liberal arts education that includes experiential learning, career preparation, and personalized attention.
Ultimately, as now, the Mount will focus on students and, thus, the creation of compelling student outcomes that result from differentiating academic programs, unforgettable learning experiences, and high-impact community outreach opportunities are compelling elements of “Transformation 2025!”
Transformation 2025 will embrace, augment, and amplify the Mount’s rigorous, holistic approach to continually improving learning, preparing students to meet the future and respond creatively, with informed, impactful decisions.

Transformation 2025 will be underpinned by six interrelated, overlapping, interactive, and mutually supporting pillars of quality elements, with the most important being (1) Engaged Faculty and Staff and (2) Impactful Student Learning Experiences that Lead to Outstanding Student Outcomes. Still, (3) Sustainable Financial Infrastructure, (4) Brand Recognition and Visibility; (5) relevant, compelling Academic Programs, and (6) Appropriate and Facilitating Physical Infrastructure are critical components.

Of course, we will need everyone, working together, to move the University forward as we must.
(1) No university is better than its faculty. Faculty colleagues, I have shared with you this sentiment on any number of occasions. I thank you for everything you do and have been doing to assure that students have the best chances to educate themselves well, under your care and tutelage.
(2) Staff Colleagues, we all know how invaluable you all are; this university would shut down in a heartbeat if you were not who you are and if you did not have the level of commitment to this place and to excellence that you reveal every day. I thank you.
(3) Students, you are the heart and soul of this place – and always will be, even when you leave these hallowed grounds for your callings and responsibilities in and to the world around us. I know you will continue to exemplify the mission, values, and beliefs of Mount St. Joseph University.
(4) Alums, you are our secret weapon and always have been. However, for this next venture, we need all of you – all of us – working together. The Mount has more than 17,000 living alums, across the Country and around the World. And we have more than 11,000 alums right here, in the Greater Cincinnati Region. Indeed, I meet another Mount alum virtually every day. Your Alma Mater needs you like she has never needed you before. We know we can count on you to rise-up with us, as we shine the light in different ways on who we are and how we can do our part for the betterment of our communities!
(5) Delhi, we thank you for working with us over these many years – and for your renewed emphasis on charting pathways forward that are mutually beneficial for Delhi and the Mount. We appreciate your partnership and look forward to expanding and deepening our partnerships.
(6) Greater Cincinnati, we know that we are just one of your many wonderful assets. Still, we know that our alums are making significant contributions in business, community organizations, government, sports, and other community activities every day. We pledge to reach out more aggressively and more consistently to support this broader community’s needs and to develop truly productive partnerships to promote the common good. We know you will join us in our noble cause! Thank you!

We need each of us and all of us to rally to the needs of these Mount, Delhi, and Greater Cincinnati communities. Indeed, as we approach our centennial, in 2020, we resolve to prepare the Mount to excel for at least another 100 years!

In 1829, the Sisters of Charity ventured from Emmitsburg, Maryland, here to Cincinnati, to set up shop, if you will, because they were committed to an unyielding desire to serve. They saw an unmet need and an opportunity to serve – IT WAS THEIR TURN AND IT WAS THEIR TIME!

During the Civil War, the Sisters volunteered to serve as nurses at some of the bloodiest battles, because they were committed to an unyielding desire to serve. They saw an unmet need and an opportunity to serve – IT WAS THEIR TURN AND IT WAS THEIR TIME!

In 1920, almost immediately after the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, the Sisters decided it was time to expand educational opportunities for women in society, so they opened the doors of Mount St. Joseph University – at that time “The College of Mount St. Joseph on the Ohio”; they were committed to an unyielding desire to serve. The saw an unmet need and an opportunity – IT WAS THEIR TURN AND IT WAS THEIR TIME!

During World War II, the University revamped the undergraduate programs significantly, without compromising quality, to educate students within three years, to aid the war effort. We were committed to an unyielding desire to serve. We saw an unmet need and an opportunity – IT WAS OUR TURN AND IT WAS OUR TIME!

In 1962, after 42 year of successfully fulfilling our mission to serve young women, we determined that we needed to accelerate and multiply our impact by expanding the Campus. We took a major financial risk, building the entire Campus in one fell swoop! At least, in the main, that is why we are here today. We were committed to an unyielding desire to serve. We saw an unmet need and an opportunity – IT WAS OUR TURN AND IT WAS OUR TIME!

Indeed, in 1986, the University concluded that it could continue to cater to, and support the needs of, women as it attended to a growing need for education in a more diverse and inclusive workplace; thus it decided to open its doors to men. That had to be an extremely difficult decision to reach and equally difficult to implement. However, in the life of The Mount, it was time! We were committed to an unyielding desire to serve. We saw an unmet need and an opportunity – IT WAS OUR TURN AND IT WAS OUR TIME!

When the Mount began a football team, in 1989, as the first sport for males, the odds were stacked against her; the naysayers said it could never happen – not at a previously all women’s college. Still, the University prevailed, the program thrives, even to this day, and we now have 24 NCAA Division III sports that cater to more than 40% of our students! We were committed to an unyielding desire to serve. We saw an unmet need and an opportunity – IT WAS OUR TURN AND IT WAS OUR TIME!

In 1998, when we added the Harrington Center, We were committed to an unyielding desire to serve. We saw an unmet need and an opportunity – IT WAS OUR TURN AND IT WAS OUR TIME!

In 2004, when we added the Football Stadium Complex; we took another “big leap” forward. We were committed to an unyielding desire to serve. We saw an unmet need and an opportunity – IT WAS OUR TURN AND IT WAS OUR TIME!

In 2014, we decided we needed to change our name from the College of Mount St. Joseph to Mount St. Joseph University. It was a difficult idea for all of us to absorb and to own. However, again we succeeded in sterling fashion. We were committed to an unyielding desire to serve. We saw an unmet need and an opportunity – IT WAS OUR TURN AND IT WAS OUR TIME!

Now, let me end where I began.
Growth and development often happens in leaps and spurts. And, now, it is time for the Mount, time for us, to take another “big leap” forward. However, to do so, we must, as we have in the past, let go of petty fears and attachments to some of the ways we have always done things, and act boldly, definitively, and, of course, collectively! Our foundresses, the Sisters of Charity, and those who have come before us have shown us how – over many, many years, and over many, many challenges. Now it’s up to us!

As I close, I am reminded of a comment by former President Barack Obama: Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. We all know this. INDEED, IT’S OUR TURN; AND THIS IS OUR TIME!

13 hours 28 min

Meghan Kemphause of White Oak has been named the 2017 recipient of Ursuline Academy’s Sister Xavier Ladrigan Excellence in Education Award. The award was presented at the annual faculty recognition dinner May 24, 2017.

The Sister Xavier Ladrigan Award was inaugurated in 1992 to honor Sr. Xavier Ladrigan, OSU as she retired from Ursuline’s Board of Trustees. Sr. Xavier served as the Superior General of the Ursulines of Brown County and was largely responsible for Ursuline’s move to Blue Ash in 1970. She devoted her entire life to education. The award is presented each year to a deserving individual with the knowledge and great faith that her legacy will live on in those who demonstrate an acceptance of the challenges given to each of us.

This is the fourth year that Ms. Kemphaus has taught chemistry at Ursuline Academy. Ms. Kemphaus was nominated by parents, students, and fellow faculty. She was especially lauded for her dedication to her students, her encouraging and welcoming spirit, and her constant effort to make chemistry relatable and valuable for all of her students. Student nominators expressed sincere gratitude for Ms. Kemhaus’s constant encouragement in the classroom, and for her interest in her students’ development as Ursuline women.

In her remarks about Ms. Kemphaus, Ursuline President Ms. Sharon Redmond shared comments from the many nominations. “Ms. Kemphaus always believes in you, and never tells you your dreams are unlikely,” Ms. Redmond said. “Instead, she bolsters that confidence by stating that you will accomplish whatever it is you hope to do… While there are truly some amazing teachers at Ursuline, none have stood out to me the way Ms. Kemphaus has.”

With this recognition comes a cash prize, along with funding for professional development for the recipient.

Ursuline Academy is an independent Catholic college-preparatory school for young women in grades 9 –12. Founded in 1896 in Cincinnati by the Ursulines of Brown County, St. Martin, Ohio, the school has been located at 5535 Pfeiffer Road, Blue Ash, Ohio since 1970.

17 hours 3 min

IMAGE: CNS photo/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters

By

CAIRO (CNS) — Christians in Egypt “are getting to this idea that we could be a martyr at any moment,” the spokesman for the nation’s Catholic bishops told Catholic News Service.

The spokesman, Father Rafic Greiche, also lamented the number of children killed in an attack on a bus carrying Coptic Orthodox Christians to St. Samuel Monastery in southern Egypt May 26.

At least 26 people, many of them children, were killed when masked assailants attacked the bus. Dozens of others were injured.

“It is too early to say who is behind it, but certainly terrorists, and the security forces are now scanning the area” to find the culprits, Tarek Attia, Interior Ministry official, told Sky News Arabia, an Arabic-language television station, May 26.

He said three cars carrying the masked gunmen had attacked the bus at roughly 10:30 a.m. in the southern governorate of Minya, a traditional stronghold of Egypt’s Christian community, which accounts for a tiny percent of the country’s mostly Sunni Muslim population.

At the Vatican, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, sent a message to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, expressing Pope Francis’ prayers and solidarity after the “barbaric attack.”

“Mindful in a particular way of those children who have lost their lives, His Holiness commends the souls of the deceased to the mercy of the Almighty. He assures their grieving families and all who have been injured of his ardent prayers, and he pledges his continued intercession for peace and reconciliation throughout the nation,” the telegram said.

The attack marked the latest in a series of deadly attacks on Coptic Christians, whose church was founded by St. Mark the Apostle in the first century, and whose community represents the largest of the Middle East’s Christian minorities.

On April 9, two suicide bombers attacked St. George’s Cathedral in Egypt’s northern city of Tanta and St. Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria. Those attacks killed and maimed dozens in what was the deadliest attack against Christians in Egypt’s recent history. A nationwide state of emergency has been in place since.

In a widely publicized visit to Egypt soon after the April attacks, Pope Francis addressed the terrorist violence carried out in the name of a fundamentalist reading of Islam. Pope Francis frequently has said there are more Christians being martyred today than during the persecutions of the church in the early centuries of Christianity. And, using the term “ecumenism of blood,” he has noted how Christians divided into churches and denominations are united in mourning for their members killed not because they are Orthodox or Catholic, but simply because they are Christian.

The pope paid tribute to the Coptic Orthodox Church’s modern martyrs, praying before a memorial in Cairo marking the place where 29 people were killed and 31 wounded in December by a suicide bomber. He told Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, “Your sufferings are also our sufferings.”

After the May 26 attack, the Coptic Orthodox Church released a statement saying, “We extend our condolences to all the affected families and are suffering with the entire country due to this evil and violence.”

“We hope for the necessary procedures to prevent these kinds of attacks, which degrade the image of Egypt and cause so much suffering to Egyptians,” the statement said.

Coptic Catholic Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak of Alexandria sent condolences to Pope Tawardros and “all families of all the martyrs,” reported the Egyptian paper, Al Masry al Youm.

Ashraf Sultan, Egyptian parliament spokesman, told Sky News Arabia, “This is an attack on the entire society and affects us all.”

And Egypt’s top authority on Islam, Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar University, said that “such attacks can never satisfy a Muslim or a Christian.” 

In Washington, Cardinal Daniel N. Di Nardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, compared the May attacks with previous attacks, noting that, again, children were murdered as they traveled to church.

“Though our grief is unbearable, our unity grows all the more strong. That unity is the way to peace,” he said, sending prayers and condolences to the Egyptians.

Other church leaders around the world also reacted. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem expressed the condolences of churches in the Holy Land.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, offered prayers and said, “This attack reminds us again of the horrific persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East and their courageous witness to their faith.”

An Egyptian Interior Ministry statement said unknown assailants driving three four-wheel-drive vehicles had attacked by “randomly shooting” the bus carrying the Copts, and that an official count of the final toll was underway.

Local media showed grainy images of bloody bodies strewn on sandy ground, indicating many of the slain had fled the bus trying to escape the assailants’ bullets.

Later, the media showed images of the wounded being taken to hospitals and reported that el-Sissi was calling for an emergency security meeting to address the attack. El-Sissi had instructed authorities to take all necessary measures to attend to the injured and arrest the assailants, the local media reported.

Asked about government assurances that security in the country would be tightened, Father Greiche told CNS: “It is now time for action, not just words.”

– – –

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

2 days 4 hours

IMAGE: EPA

By Rhina Guidos

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Worried about the fate of some of their students, more than 65 college presidents representing U.S. Catholic institutions asked for a meeting with the Secretary of Homeland Security to talk about immigration policy.

“As leaders of Catholic colleges and universities, we are dedicated to educating students from all backgrounds. In keeping with this commitment, many of our institutions are home to young men and women who are undocumented and have met the criteria for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). We are deeply concerned about the futures of our undocumented students,” said the May 23 letter addressed to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

In the letter, they cited incidents in which DACA recipients have been placed under immigration detention, including a case in which one of them was deported, and said that “recent actions and statements by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about young people who met the DACA criteria raise many questions about the safety of our students.” They referred in particular to a tweet from ICE that said: “DACA is not a protected legal status, but active DACA recipients are typically a lower level of enforcement priority.”

Addressing Kelly, they said: “implementation of immigration enforcement policies falls under your discretion. We respectfully request a meeting with you to better understand how enforcement agencies are approaching DACA holders.”

John Gehring, Catholic program director at Washington’s advocacy group Faith in Public Life, which along with the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities helped coordinate the effort, said there were worries because of “aggressive enforcement tactics we’re seeing around the country.” And since Kelly is Catholic, they wanted to convey to him that “the Catholic community is concerned with these aggressive actions,” Gehring said in a phone interview with Catholic News Service. He added that the culture of fear those aggressive actions have created is “unacceptable.”

The list of signers includes the presidents of The Catholic University of America in Washington, Trinity Washington University, as well as Villanova, Gonzaga, Fordham, Loyola and Santa Clara universities.

The college presidents say they want to “clarify” the administration’s stance on the special status granted to the students via the Obama-era’s DACA policy that allowed minors who had been brought into the country without proper documentation a temporary reprieve from deportation and a work permit, if they met certain conditions.

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump said he would do away with the DACA policy. As president, he said he would decide what to do about the policy “with heart” and has said that it’s a “difficult” decision to grapple with. Some of the recipients are “absolutely wonderful kids,” he said in a February news conference, but then immediately also said that some DACA recipients are “gang members and they’re drug dealers, too.”

The college presidents said that as the academic year concludes, they worry about what the future brings because “many of these students will leave our campuses for internships, summer programs and jobs. Our prayer is that they return.” They said they want to meet with Kelly to discuss the administration’s policies and request that he take steps to protect their immigrant students who are at risk of deportation.

Gehring said the Department of Homeland Security has acknowledged receiving the letter.

The students for whom the college leaders are advocating are known in immigration circles as “dreamers” because of a bipartisan bill called the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act, that failed to pass in 2010. It would have granted residency in the country for some unauthorized persons brought in to the country as minors, if they met certain conditions.

“Our shared faith calls us to protect the most vulnerable among us,” said the letter signed by the college presidents. “Over the years, we have opened the doors of our colleges and universities to dreamers and advocated for comprehensive immigration reform so that they and their families can live safe, full lives in our country.”

Jesuit Father Kevin Wildes, president of Loyola University New Orleans, said sending back young men and women to countries they don’t know is “morally wrong,” particularly when they contribute much to the U.S.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to protect these students. We urge Secretary Kelly and President Trump to do the same,” said Father Wildes in a news release about the letter.

Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, said her institution would stand in solidarity with “dreamers” and other immigrants.

“No nation can claim greatness by treating our youth as dispensable because of conditions for which they are not responsible,” she said. “We reject as cruel and immoral, and will resist to the greatest extent possible, any government effort to harm our students and their families.”

John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America in Washington, said the Catholic Church has always stood with immigrants but particularly with the young and with families seeking a better life.

“In our time, some of those young people are university students who have qualified for DACA protection,” he said. “While the need for immigration reform is evident, we hope that policymakers will pay particular attention to the integrity of the family, the importance of work and the dignity of the human person.”

Others spoke of how Catholic higher education traditionally “has welcomed students on society’s margins,” and recalled the pope’s words during his apostolic visit to the U.S. in 2015 when he said immigrants provide “many gifts” to a nation.

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Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

2 days 8 hours

IMAGE: CNS/Tyler Orsburn

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) — President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget sent shivers through social service, education and environmental communities, prompting church leaders and advocates to question the administration’s commitment to people in need.

The leaders repeated in interviews with Catholic News Service that a budget is a moral document that reflects the nation’s priorities and that they found that the spending plan revealed May 23 backs away from the country’s historical support for children, the elderly and the poor, and protecting the environment.

Their concern focuses on the deep cuts — totaling $52 billion in fiscal year 2018 and $3.6 trillion over the next decade — in international aid, senior services, health care, hunger prevention, job training, air and water protection, and climate change research. The cuts essentially are paying for a corresponding $52 billion boost in military spending.

“We say there’s a human component here. It’s not just about defense. It’s not just about deficits,” said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

“Too often we think the budget is a number. It’s not. Right behind those numbers are human beings and they look like you and they look like me,” he told CNS.

Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, echoed Bishop Dewane’s contention, saying she was “profoundly disturbed” by the White House plan. “You can’t have people who are suffering and expect them to bring themselves out of poverty when we cut off their access to food and health care and job training. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” she said.

“Clearly, it’s saying where the values are of this administration. And their values do not align with our values as people of faith who are charged with looking out for those among us who are most in need,” Sister Markham added.

But rather than directly engage the White House, officials at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services and other agencies are planning to turn to Congress, which they see as a firewall to minimize the depth of the cuts being proposed. They have four months of work before a budget must be in place Sept. 30, the start of the next fiscal year.

Democrats in Congress, as expected, have opposed the change in spending priorities. Many Republicans have as well, describing the plan assembled by Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget and a Georgetown University graduate, simply as a starting point.

That still worries social service administrators such as Gregory R. Kepferle, CEO of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County in San Jose, California.

“By just presenting this extreme case, it’s a classic negotiating ploy (to) be as obnoxious and extreme as possible and then move to the middle,” Kepferle said. “It still means devastating cuts to the poor and more money for the rich. It’s a breathtaking transfer of wealth from the poorest of the poor to the wealthy.”

Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, is so concerned about the budget plan that he has undertaken a day of fasting and prayer on the 21st day of each month from now through December 2018 when the current session of Congress ends.

Bishop Pates said the effort, organized by Bread for the World, for which he serves on the board of directors, is a time-honored tradition in the face of injustice. “In addition to the lobbying efforts, we really feel that prayer and fasting and relationship together as a religious community is very important,” he said.

A look at the numbers provides insight into the concern that prompted such action.

Through fiscal year 2027, the budget outline incorporates more than $800 billion in reduced Medicaid spending envisioned in the House-approved American Health Care Act, which is under review in the Senate. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, will see $192 billion in reduced spending over the decade.

In Trump’s plan, deep cuts are proposed for teacher training, after-school and summer programs, Women, Infants and Children nutrition assistance, and the Senior Community Service Employment Program. The $200-million McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program and the $3-billion Community Development Block Grant program are among the better-known programs slated for elimination.

The Environmental Protection Agency would lose $2.5 billion, about 31 percent of its current budget. Plans call for reducing support for research and development, the Superfund cleanup program and the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. Funding for international climate change programs would end.

Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, said it appears that the administration values business profits over people’s health.

“There’s this sense that if it’s hurting business then it’s a bad regulation,” Misleh said. “I certainly think there are undoubtedly some regulations that can be scaled back or done away with, maybe environmental regulations that outlive their usefulness. But I also think that can’t be the only criteria whether we judge a regulation is good or bad.

“How these regulations impact people should be the first priority and whether business can afford them or is truly detrimental to business is another conversation,” he said. “As Catholics, we should be concerned about how these environmental rules and regulations impact people.”

Some proposals in the budget have long been sought by Catholic advocates. The fiscal year 2018 plan includes $1.4 billion for charter schools, private schools and other school choice initiatives. Another provision would prohibit funding for any agency that offers abortion services even though federal funds cannot be used for the procedure, as current law requires. If adopted, the proposal would end all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.

“A great country does not send money to those who kills its children,” Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said in a statement, supporting the budget provision. “It’s appropriate not to force taxpayers to subsidize abortionists and it’s logical to exclude Planned Parenthood from health programs. Abortion is not health care.”

Still, there are overarching concerns about the impact of the budget on people who are least able to fend for themselves.

“Adding money to the military is not going to solve our problems,” said Lawrence Couch, director of the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Washington. “In the long run this is untenable. Eventually people will not tolerate that type of situation where they are not at the table.”

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, said cuts in Medicaid funding are particularly troublesome because nearly half of such spending supports senior citizens and disabled people.

“If (the budget is) implemented as proposed I think many people will kind of fall through the cracks,” he said. “I do have a certain hope and confidence as it goes through the legislative process that people will realize that the proposed budget needs significant modification.”

When it comes to international aid, a spokesman for Catholic Relief Services said foreign aid cuts ultimately could affect national security because poverty and desperation would expand. Bill O’Keefe, vice president for government relations and advocacy at the agency, called on Congress to protect nearly $60 billion in diplomacy and development aid.

O’Keefe cited the McGovern-Dole food program as one that has made a difference in the lives of children at a small cost. In a region of Honduras, for example, the program provides 90,000 children with a lunch at school, allowing them to attend classes and reducing the likelihood they will join a violent gang, O’Keefe said.

“It’s not just lunch,” he told CNS. “It’s providing opportunities for kids to go to school, get a quality education and for the community to engage in the school in a way that’s good for the community.”

In the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, Patrick J. Raglow, executive director of Catholic Charities, predicted people will feel the pinch of reduced services. While the agency does not receive federal funds outside of refugee resettlement and natural disaster services, Raglow expects that it will be counted on to provide broader assistance particularly in rural communities if the proposed budget remains substantially untouched.

He suggested that funding will have to be sought elsewhere to meet existing needs if the cuts go through.

“It means you have to engage the (wider) community differently to sustain the community you’re serving. We have to be faithful to God almighty, not to Uncle Sam almighty,” Raglow said.

“It does mean you have to get off your duff and get out of your office and you’ve got to make some asks,” he added. “Resources are available. You just have to go out and find them. But we shouldn’t sit there and crawl under our desk because of this budget.”

– – –

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

2 days 9 hours
A bus carrying Coptic Christians in southern Egypt is seen after gunmen attacked it May 26. The Health Ministry reports at least 26 fatalities, with at least 25 more wounded. (CNS photo/Reuters TV) A bus carrying Coptic Christians in southern Egypt is seen after gunmen attacked it May 26. The Health Ministry reports at least 26 fatalities, with at least 25 more wounded. (CNS photo/Reuters TV)

CAIRO (CNS) — Masked assailants attacked a bus carrying Coptic Orthodox Christians on the way to St. Samuel Monastery in southern Egypt, killing at least 26 people, many of them children, according to the country’s Interior Ministry.

“It is too early to say who is behind it, but certainly terrorists, and the security forces are now scanning the area” to find the culprits, Tarek Attia, Interior Ministry official, told Sky News Arabia, an Arabic-language television station, May 26.

He said three cars carrying the masked gunmen had attacked the bus at roughly 10:30 a.m. in the southern governorate of Minya, a traditional stronghold of Egypt’s Christian community, which accounts for a tiny percent of the country’s mostly Sunni Muslim population.

The attack marked the latest in a series of deadly attacks on Coptic Christians, whose church was founded by St. Mark the Apostle in the first century, and whose community represents the largest of the Middle East’s Christian minorities.

On April 9, two suicide bombers attacked St. George’s Cathedral in Egypt’s northern city of Tanta and St. Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria. Those attacks killed and maimed dozens in what was the deadliest attack against Christians in Egypt’s recent history. A nationwide state of emergency has been in place since.

In a widely publicized visit to Egypt soon after the April attacks, Pope Francis addressed the terrorist violence carried out in the name of a fundamentalist reading of Islam. Pope Francis frequently has said there are more Christians being martyred today than during the persecutions of the church in the early centuries of Christianity. And, using the term “ecumenism of blood,” he has noted how Christians divided into churches and denominations are united in mourning for their members killed not because they are Orthodox or Catholic, but simply because they are Christian.

The pope paid tribute to the Coptic Orthodox Church’s modern martyrs, praying before a memorial in Cairo marking the place where 29 people were killed and 31 wounded in December by a suicide bomber. He told Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, “Your sufferings are also our sufferings.”

After Friday’s attack, the Coptic Orthodox Church released a statement saying, “We extend our condolences to all the affected families and are suffering with the entire country due to this evil and violence.”

“We hope for the necessary procedures to prevent these kinds of attacks, which degrade the image of Egypt and cause so much suffering to Egyptians,” the statement said.

Ashraf Sultan, Egyptian parliament spokesman, told Sky News Arabia, “This is an attack on the entire society and affects us all.”

And Egypt’s top authority on Islam, Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar University, said that “such attacks can never satisfy a Muslim or a Christian.”

An Interior Ministry statement said unknown assailants driving three four-wheel-drive vehicles had attacked by “randomly shooting” the bus carrying the Copts, and that an official count of the final toll was underway.

Local media showed grainy images of bloody bodies strewn on sandy ground, indicating many of the slain had fled the bus trying to escape the assailants’ bullets.

Later, the media showed images of the wounded being taken to hospitals and reported that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was calling for an emergency security meeting to address the attack. El-Sissi had instructed authorities to take all necessary measures to attend to the injured and arrest the assailants, the local media reported.

2 days 12 hours

Badin High School’s Class of 2017, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the school’s opening in 1966-67, has amassed nearly $19 million in college academic scholarship offers.

“It’s a measure of the opportunity a Badin High School education provides,” said Principal Brian Pendergest as Badin hosted its 11th annual Academic Signing Day on Wednesday, May 24. “Our students have searched far and wide for scholarship dollars, have earned these offers through their hard work, and now will take advantage of them in their college experience.”

The current total for the Class of 2017 is $18.8 million in college scholarship dollars, with more expected. That averages to more than $140,000 per student in the school’s 51st graduating class.

Badin will graduate 133 students on Friday, June 2, at St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Liberty Township. Of those, 55 students have earned more than $100,000 in academic scholarship offers for college.

“College is expensive, and our students put forth a lot of effort to find money to help offset those costs,” said Angie Bucheit, a guidance counselor at Badin. “You want to deal with as little college debt as possible when you head into the real world, and our college-bound students certainly understand that.”

Two students are co-valedictorians of the senior class.

David Berg is the son of David and Cecelia Berg and a graduate of Queen of Peace School. David will attend the University of Notre Dame and major in economics.

John Marot is the son of Pat and Mollie Marot and a graduate of Sacred Heart School. He will attend Miami University and major in finance.

“Our top students are an outstanding group,” Pendergest said. “They will be attending nine different schools, with numerous areas of concentration. They are well-rounded, responsible and caring young people, and we know they will continue to be tremendous representatives of Badin High School.”

Badin’s Top 10 averaged a 4.31 grade point average, a 32.2 on the ACT, and earned a total of $4.4 million in college scholarship offers.

Other members of Badin’s Top 10, with their college of choice, include: Kaitlyn Dick (Miami University), A.J. Ernst (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology), Alexandra Hensley (Ohio State University), Laurel Pendergest (Xavier University), Nick Rand (Saint Louis University), Matthew Schweinefuss (Ohio Northern University), Maddie Smith (DePauw University) and Andrew Walsh (United States Naval Academy).

The 55 students who are members of the $100,000 Scholarship Club – meaning they have earned more than $100,000 in college scholarship offers — will be attending 26 schools in 11 different states and districts.

Those schools include:

Ohio (10) – Bowling Green State University, Miami University, Ohio Northern University, the Ohio State University, Ohio University, University of Cincinnati, University of Dayton, University of Toledo, Wilmington College, Xavier University
Indiana (5) – Ball State University, DePauw University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, University of Notre Dame, Valparaiso University
Kentucky (3) – Bellarmine University, Northern Kentucky University, Thomas More College
Alabama – University of Alabama
Florida – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Georgia – Berry College
Illinois – Illinois Institute of Technology
Maryland – United States Naval Academy
Missouri – Saint Louis University
South Carolina – University of South Carolina
Washington D.C. – American University

“When we began the Academic Signing 10 years ago, we wanted to recognize our seniors — but we also wanted to motivate the younger students to maximize their academic potential as well as their search for college opportunities,” Bucheit said. “It’s very rewarding to feel like we’ve accomplished that goal, and as importantly, that we continue to accomplish that goal.”

Among the other highlights of the senior class: David Berg scored a perfect 36 on the ACT and is a National Merit Scholarship Finalist … Andrew Walsh was admitted to both the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, opting for the Naval Academy. … Karley Schlensker earned more than $1.9 million in academic college scholarship offers. She will attend Wilmington College … Nick Miller was a $100,000 Scholarship Club recipient, but he achieved his dream on Friday, May 19, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army.

As of today, 92 members of Badin’s 2017 graduating class have received some college scholarship dollars, according to Bucheit. She and Brion Treadway direct Badin’s counseling services.

Contact: Dirk Q. Allen, 863-3993, ext. 120, or e-mail Dallen@badinhs.org

2 days 16 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

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(Vatican Radio) On the second day running, Pope Francis has expressed his solidarity with Egypt's Coptic Christians following an attack on a bus carrying Coptic pilgrims to a remote desert monastery. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Leading thousands of pilgrims in the Regina Caeli prayer in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, the Pope said he wished to express, yet again, his closeness to his dear brother, Pope Tawadros II and to the whole Egyptian nation that two days ago suffered “another act of ferocious violence.” “The victims, amongst which were also children, were killed after having refused to renounce their Christian faith” he said. The Pope prayed that the Lord “may welcome these courageous witnesses, these martyrs, in his peace and convert the hearts of the terrorists”. The Islamic so-called State group claimed responsibility for Friday's attack, which killed 29 people. On Saturday during a visit to Genoa, Francis prayed for the victims and lamented that there were more martyrs today than in early Christian times.   (from Vatican Radio)... 15 hours 33 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday asked for prayers for the victims of the Manchester concert attack and decried how “so many young lives were cruelly broken”. Speaking to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Regina Caeli, Pope Francis also said he is “close to the relatives and all those who are weeping for the dead.” British investigators are still looking for other suspects in the May 22 bombing at an Ariana Grande concert that killed 22 people. Police have 11 suspects in custody but are looking for other members of the network of attacker Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old Briton of Libyan descent   (from Vatican Radio)... 15 hours 56 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis wrapped up an intense 1-day apostolic visit to the Italian port city of Genoa with the celebration of Mass. To the faithful present for the open-air ceremony in Genoa’s Kennedy Square, the Pope said Christians must never tire of working for the common good, they must never fear going out into the world with Christ’s message of peace and hope… Listen to the report by Robin Gomes: “Christian prayer is not a way of being a little bit at peace with oneself or finding some interior harmony; we pray in order to bring all to God, to entrust the world to Him,” Pope Francis said on Saturday.  He was delivering a homily at an evening Mass in the Italian port city of Genoa.  The Mass at the Kennedy Square seafront was the final event of his day-long visit to the city, during which he met the clergy and religious, youth, prisoners, children and staff of a pediatric hospital and lunched with the poor and the marginalized.    Prayer – God's power and strength Commenting on the scripture readings of Sunday, the Pope explained that in Christ’s Ascensio n “the power of Jesus, the strength of God” is revealed that has “linked earth with heaven for us”.  And this power continues even today and will last forever in Christ’s unceasing prayers and intercession for us before the Father, every moment….especially at every Mass.   And  “Jesus has gifted this capacity to intercede also to us, to his Church, that has the power and also the duty to intercede and pray for all.” The power of prayer lies in anchoring ourselves on God with our burdens, persons and situations in order not to be submerged by what he described as this “evil of living”.  Prayer allows God to enter our time.   “ Prayer is intercession. It’s not tranquility, it’s charity ,” the Pope stressed.  The Pope said our power lies not in triumphing or shouting loud according to the logic of the world but in exercising the ‘gentle power of prayer’, with which one can even stop wars and obtain peace.  Proclamation - reachig out, not closed in Another power of Jesus revealed in the Ascension is that of proclamation.   When Jesus sent his disciples to proclaim Him with the power of the Holy Spirit, He trusted us with all our shortcomings.  And in this, a great imperfection that we need to overcome immediately is that of closing ourselves.  It’s because the Gospel cannot be shut in and sealed, because God's love is dynamic and wants to reach others .  Hence to proclaim Him, one needs to go out, come out of oneself. With the Lord is it is forbidden to relax in acquired comforts.  A Christian is always on the move with the Lord towards other.  He is a pilgrim, a missionary, a hopeful marathon man, gentle but intent on walking, the Pope said.  The Lord desires that the proclamation goes ahead with his strength, not with that of the world, with the limpid and meek strength of joyful witnessing.   This, the Pope said, is urgent.  (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 11 hours
“Faith works primarily through charity and without it, it is dead. So I encourage you to carry out your delicate work motivated by charity", said Pope Francis  to the staff members of  “Giannini Gaslini” Pediatric Hospital during his day long visit to the Italian city of Genoa on Saturday.   The Pope said that he couldn’t miss this visit where children are cared for, because the suffering of children is certainly something very difficult to accept. And added that  it is there that the Lord called him to be,  though briefly, close to the children and their relatives.  "Often and again I ask myself: 'Why do children suffer?', and I don't find any explantion," the Pope said.  "I only look at the crucifix and stand still there."  Pope Francis commended the devoted service of the hospital staff, the President of the Foundation, the Archbishop of Genoa, physicians, paramedics,  the various specialized staff, as well as the Cappucchin Friars Minor and all those who assist and help the children with love and dedication and said that they in fact also need their  gestures of friendship, of  understanding, of affection and paternal and maternal support. This institute is an act of love of Senator Gerolamo  Gaslini he said who in honour of his daughter who died of a tender age had founded the hospital by sacrificing all he had: companies, establishments, property, money, and even his home. This is why this hospital is known and appreciated in Italy and around the world and has a special role of continuing to be a symbol of generosity and solidarity he said.   In founding of the Hospital he observed, Gaslini said: "It is my firm will that this Institute has the Catholic faith as its foundation and guide [...] that it ferments every activity and comforts every pain." The pope called them to  often think of the "good Samaritan" of the Gospel- attentive to the needs of their small patients, accepting tenderly  their fragility, and seeing the Lord in them. Whoever serves the sick with love serves Jesus who opens the Kingdom of Heaven he affirmed. The Pope hoped that the Hospital, faithful to its mission, will continue its appreciated work of care and research through the generous and disinterested contribution and contribute to all categories and at all levels. He concluded assuring the staff, patients and their relatives of his prayer and blessings. Earlier on Wednesday linking-up live via telephone to a parish radio in Genova that broadcasts a Wednesday weekly programme especially dedicated to the children’s hospital, Pope Francis told the little patients that it is with joy that he is preparing to be with them. "Istituto Giannina Gaslini" is a tertiary level pediatric hospital affiliated to the University of Genoa and  is considered one of the foremost children’s hospitals in Europe and is formally recognized as a Scientific Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Healthcare. (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 12 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with the bishops, priests, religious and seminarians of the Archdiocese of Genoa and the whole region of Liguria on Saturday, during the course of a one-day pastoral visit. The questions from clergy and religious came from two secular priests, Don Andrea Carcasole and Don Pasquale Revello: the President of the Italian Union of Women Religious Superiors for the Liguria Region; and  Fr. Andrea Caruso, O.F.M. Cap. Their queries focused on the search for ways to maintain hope and nourish the interior life of faith in today’s frenetic world – and the Holy Father’s responses centered on the imitation of Christ, the fostering of a sense of fraternity among the clergy and of genuine diocesan ecclesial unity, and the cultivation of a rich, mission-focused interior life of prayer. “What we want,” said Pope Francis, “is pastoral conversion, missionary conversion.” The Pope also condemned the practice – diffuse in Latin America and at one time not too long ago present also in Italy and other places, of encouraging poor young women to join a religious congregation as novices – often in order to shore up diminishing numbers – and then to abandon the girls and young women for whom religious life is not their calling. “It is a scandal,” said Pope Francis. “Work [to foster vocations – (It. lavoro vocazionale )] is difficult, but we must do it,” he said. “It is a challenge,” Pope Francis continued. “We need to be creative.” (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 16 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis began an intense day-long pastoral visit to Genoa on Saturday morning, with a meeting with workers, management, industrialists, union leaders and representatives of unemployed persons at the ILVA steel works in the city. World of Labour Pope Francis’ meeting with the world of labour included four questions regarding the issues ranging from the challenges of ossified and unresponsive bureaucracy to the dehumanizing effects of technology and large forces on the workplace and the labour market: one each from a worker, an entrepreneur, a business-owner, and a union representative. Right and Duty to Work for All In each of his responses, Pope Francis focused on the primacy of the human person over the reality and rights of labour and capital, insisting that only a correct vision of human nature can inform and direct our efforts to build a just and harmonious society. The Pope also insisted forcefully on work as something given to man in the order of creation, and essential to genuine human flourishing. “It is necessary, therefore, to look fearlessly and a sense of responsibility on the technological transformations of the economy and of life, he said, “without resigning ourselves to the ideology that seems to be gaining a foothold wherever one looks, which envisions a world in which only a half or maybe two-thirds of employable people actually work, and the others maintained with a welfare cheque.” “It must be clear,” Pope Francis continued, “that the true objective to reach is not ‘income for all’ but ‘work for all’.” Also on the Agenda With a departure at 7AM, the schedule of the visit to the northern Italian port city on the Ligurian coast included five other major appointments, in addition to the meeting with the “world of labour”: With the Bishops, priests, seminarians, and religious of Liguria, along with lay curial collaborators and representatives of other religious confessions at the Cathedral of San Lorenzo; An encounter with young people attached to the Diocesan Mission at the Marian Sanctuary of the Madonna della Guardia; Lunch at the sanctuary with a number of poor and homeless persons, refugees, and prisoners; A moment with children from the various departments of the Giannina Gaslini Pediatric Hospital; Solemn Mass at the Piazzale Kennedy, named for the first Catholic President of the United States. We will be brining you coverage of the trip throughout the day. (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 18 hours
Pope Francis has begun a one-day visit to the northern Italian port city of Genoa to meet with workers, poor and homeless people, refugees and prisoners. His opened his visit at ILVA, a troubled steel-making company, where workers in hard hats awaited him. The visit puts a focus on the plight of workers whose lives have been made precarious by years of economic crisis. He traveled through a large factory hall in a small electric car, waving and reaching out to shake hands with admirers, many of whom held small white-and-yellow papal flags. People snapped photos with smart phones and said ``viva il papa!'' _ which means ``long live the pope!'' Later the pontiff is to also meet with poor and homeless people as well as refugees and prisoners.... 1 day 21 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram to Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, expressing condolences over the murder of dozens of Coptic Christians in Egypt, and condemning the killings as "[a] senseless act of hatred." As many as 10 gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians on pilgrimage to the monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor some 140km from the capital, Cairo, killing at least 28 of them and injuring some 23 others. Many of the victims were women and children. In the telegram, signed by the Holy See's Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis promises prayers for the deceased and for their loved ones, as well as for the whole people of Egypt. Please find the full text of the telegram, below... ********************************* His Excellency Abdel Fattah Al Sisi President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Cairo Deeply saddened to learn of the barbaric attack in central Egypt and of the tragic loss of life and injury caused by this senseless act of hatred, Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this violent outrage.  Mindful in a particular way of those children who have lost their lives, His Holiness commends the souls of the deceased to the mercy of the Almighty.  He assures their grieving families and all who have been injured of his ardent prayers, and he pledges his continued intercession for peace and reconciliation throughout the nation. Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 21 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Friday with the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity who are holding their 12th General Chapter in Rome this month. The theme of their assembly is focused on the need “to give oneself completely to God, to be completely given to one’s neighbour: missionary disciples and joyful witnesses to charity in the suburbs of the world”. Listen to our report: In his words to the sisters, Pope Francis noted that their institute, founded by Don Luigi Orione, is dedicated to caring especially for the poor and most marginalized members of society. Thanking them for the work they do, the Pope urged them to be "missionaries without frontiers", bringing God’s love and mercy to all they meet. Be bold and creative Missionaries, he said, are called to be bold and creative people, capable of rethinking “the goals, structure, style and method” of their mission. We are living, he stressed, in a time when “it is necessary to rethink everything in light of what the Spirit is asking us”. Be free from all ties Pope Francis said missionaries are also called to be free and able to live with nothing but the word of the Lord to sustain them. He urged the sisters to free themselves from all material or emotional ties which hinder them from setting out on their missionary journey. Be led by the Spirit As missionaries, he continued, you are called to be filled with the Spirit, letting yourselves be guided as you bring the Gospel to the most unlikely places. Be prophets of mercy Finally, Pope Francis told the sisters they are called to be prophets of mercy, letting themselves be provoked by the call for help from so many situations of pain and suffering. Together with the other institutes founded by Don Orione, he urged them to work together in a spirit of encounter and cooperation as they share God’s love and forgiveness with all who are searching for Him in today’s world. (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 14 hours
(Vatican Radio) The Christian’s place is in the world, in order to proclaim Jesus; but his gaze is turned to heaven in order to be united to Him: that was the message of Pope Francis at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Friday. Galilee, the place of the first encounter with Jesus The Scriptures, Pope Francis said in his homily, give us three words, three points of reference for the Christian journey. The first word is “ memory .” The risen Jesus tells the disciples to go before Him to Galilee, and this was the first encounter with the Lord. Each one of us “has his own ‘Galilee,’” where Jesus shows Himself for the first time, where we have known Him and have had “this joy, this enthusiasm for following Him.” In order “to be a good Christian it is necessary to always have this memory of the first encounter with Jesus, or of subsequent encounters.” It is “the grace of memory” which in “the moment of trial gives me certainty.” A gaze fixed in heaven, our feet in the world The second point of reference is “ prayer .” When Jesus ascended into heaven, the Pope explained, He did not break off His relationship with us: “Physically, yes, but He is always joined to us by interceding for us. He shows the Father His wounds, the price He has paid for us, for our salvation.” And so “we must ask for the grace to contemplate heaven, the grace of prayer, the relationship with Jesus in prayer, that in the moment He hears us, He is with us”: “Then there is a third [point of reference]: “ the world .” Jesus, before He left them—as we heard yesterday in the Gospel of the Ascension—says to the disciples: ‘Go into the world and make disciples.’ Go: the Christian’s place is in the world in order to proclaim the Word of Jesus, in order to say that we are saved, that He is come to give us grace, to bring us all with Him before the Father.” Memory, prayer, and mission This, the Pope said, is “the topography of the Christian spirit,” the three points of reference of our life: memory, prayer, mission; and the three words for our journey: Galilee, heaven, the world: “A Christian must move in these three dimensions, and request the grace of memory: saying to the Lord, ‘Don’t let me forget the moment when You chose me, don’t let me forget the moment we met.’ Then, praying, looking to heaven because He is there, interceding. He intercedes for us. And then, going on mission: that is, not saying that everyone has to go to the foreign missions; [rather] going on mission is living and bearing witness to the Gospel, it is making Jesus known to all people. And doing so through witness and through the Word: because if I tell people about Jesus, and about the Christian life, and then live like a pagan, that won’t do. The mission will not go forward.” The Christian life is joyful If, instead, we live in memory, in prayer, and on mission, Pope Francis concluded, the Christian life will be beautiful, and also joyful: “And this is the final word Jesus speaks to us today in the Gospel: ‘On that day, the day in which you live the Christian life in this way, you will know all things and no one will be able to take your joy away from you.” No one, because I have the memory of my encounter with Jesus; I have the certainty that Jesus is in heaven in this moment and He is interceding for me, He is with me; and I prayer and I have the courage to speak, to go out of myself, and to speak to others and bear witness with my life that the Lord is risen, He is alive. Memory, prayer, mission. May the Lord give us the grace to understand this topography of the Christian life and to go forward with joy, with that joy that no one can take from us.” (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 15 hours

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From: The World Seen From Rome
Posted

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Regina Coeli with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Before the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today, in Italy and in other countries, the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, 40 days after Easter, is celebrated. With how today’s Gospel of Matthew (cf. Mt 28: 16-20) concludes, we are presented with the moment of the definitive departure of the Risen Lord from His disciples. The scene is set in Galilee, the place where Jesus had called them to follow Him and form the first nucleus of His new community. Now those disciples have gone through the “fire” of Passion and Resurrection; At the sight of the Risen Lord, they bow to Him, some are still doubtful. To this frightened community, Jesus leaves the immense task of evangelizing the world; And concretizes this assignment, ordering them to teach and baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost [Holy Spirit] (cf. v. 19).

The Ascension of Jesus into heaven, thus, constitutes the end of the mission the Son has received from the Father and the beginning of the continuation of this mission of the Church. From this moment, in fact, the presence of Christ in the world is mediated by His disciples, by those who believe in Him and announce Him. This mission will last until the end of history and will enjoy the assistance of the Risen Lord daily, Who assures: “I am with you every day, until the end of the world” (v. 20).

His presence brings strength in persecutions, comfort in tribulations, support in the difficult situations which meet the mission and proclamation of the Gospel. The Ascension reminds us of this assistance of Jesus and of His Spirit that gives confidence and security to our Christian witness in the world. He reveals to us why the Church exists: She exists to proclaim the Gospel, only for that! And also, the joy of the Church is to announce the Gospel. We are all baptized by the Church. Today, we are invited to understand better that God has given us great dignity and responsibility to announce it to the world, to make it accessible to humanity. That is our dignity, this is the greatest honor of each of us, of all baptized!

On this Day of the Ascension, as we turn our gaze to heaven, where Christ ascended and sits at the right hand of the Father, we strengthen our footsteps on earth to continue with enthusiasm and courage on our journey, our mission of witnessing and living the Gospel in every environment. However, we are well aware that this does not depend primarily on our strengths, organizational skills and human resources. Only with the light and strength of the Holy Spirit, can we effectively fulfill our mission of making Jesus’ love and tenderness more and more to the knowledge and experience of others.

We ask the Virgin Mary to help us contemplate the goods of heaven, which the Lord promises us, and become more and more credible witnesses of His Resurrection, of True Life.

[Original text: English] [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]

After Regina Coeli:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I want to express my closeness to my dear brother [Coptic Orthodox] Pope Tawadros II and the Orthodox Coptic community in Egypt, which two days ago suffered another act of fierce violence. Victims, faithful, including children, were going to a sanctuary to pray, and were killed when they refused to deny their Christian faith. The Lord welcomes these brave witnesses in His peace, and may He convert the hearts of the violent.

We also pray for the victims of the terrible attack on Manchester last Monday, where so many young lives have been cruelly taken. We are close to the families and  those who weep for those lost.

Today, one celebrates World Social Communications Day, on the theme “Do not be afraid because I am with you” (Is 43.5). Social media offer the opportunity to share and disseminate news instantly; Such news can be beautiful or bad, true or false; Pray for communication, in all its forms, to be truly constructive, in the service of truth by refusing prejudices and by spreading hope and trust in our time.

I greet you all, dear Romans and pilgrims: families, parish groups, associations, schools.

In particular, I greet the faithful from Colorado; The Bavarian folk groups who came for the great parade in the centenary of the patron saint of Bavaria; And the Polish faithful, with a blessing also for those attending the pilgrimage to the Piekary Shrine.

I greet the Comboni Missionaries, who celebrate 150 years since their foundation; The pilgrimage of the Sisters of Ascoli Piceno; The groups of Naples, Scandicci, Thiesi, Nonantola, and the pupils of the school “Sacred Heart of the Incarnate Word” of Palermo.

A special thought and encouragement goes to the representatives of voluntary associations that promote the donation of organs, “noble and meritorious act” (Catechism, No. 2296). I would also like to welcome the employees of Mediaset Roma, with the hope that their work situation may be resolved, with the aim of realizing the company’s goodwill, not only its profits, but respecting the rights of all people involved.

I want to conclude with great greetings to all the people of Genoa and a great thank you for their warm welcome that I received yesterday. May the Lord bless them abundantly, and may Our Lady of the Guard keep them.

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]

18 hours 48 min

‘Pope Francis is a hero. A father to everyone’

These words were expressed to Zenit by a beaming Momoh Muhammed, 19, who arrived from Nigeria in 2016, and is now living not far from Genoa in Savona. Zenit was speaking to young people present in the enthusiastic crowd of all different ages to learn more about the young people in Italy, ahead of the Holy Father’s arrival to respond to their questions.

A Hero, A Father

Pope Francis is making a pastoral visit to the northern Italian city of Genoa today, where he is meeting with the world of work, consecrated and religious, young people, sick children, and celebrating Mass.

Explaining that situations of war and potential terror attacks caused him to leave, Momoh expressed how in spite of his challenges, his faith and Pope Francis make him feel at home and included.

Photo by ZENIT (DCL) – Momoh Muhammed

“I had to come because of these sad realities and the circumstances which I was living in my country,” he said. “It’s a long story,” he said smiling. “But I am happy to be in Italy, for it’s a great country, and am thrilled to see the Pope today.”

Speaking to us in English, as he acknowledged his struggle to acclimate and learn the language, he noted, that “He is a great man. To me, Pope Francis is a hero. He is a father to everyone. This is why he is a hero,” he said.

The Pope’s words of encouragement to young people, Momoh underscored, make him feel that in the midst of struggles in Italy, such as to find work, he will find his way.

“God has a plan. I know,” he said smiling.

Seek Horizons

While acknowledging the great number of unemployed youth in her country, Christina Grasso, 24, who lives near in a little town near Genoa, called Livelatto, says to us that Pope Francis’ words to ‘seek the horizons’ and ‘never think of retiring young,’ are encouraging. “His humility and simplicity strike me the most,” she said.

Photo by ZENIT (DCL) – Outside of Sanctuary

“I am studying to be a pharmacist, either to do pharmaceutical research or be a pharmacist, and I believe, with hard work and faith, I will realize my goal. And I will realize it here in Italy. I am happy to stay in Italy and I want to stay here,” she said.

“I come from a pretty religious family and they always directed me to be faithful, so I believe. Perhaps they’re too faithful, but in any case….[smiling]…I will try to follow what the Pope and the religion says. There are the things I agree with, and some things, I may agree with less, but I try to follow his words.”

“I am happy to be with the Pope today who gives young people comfort and hope.”

From Syria, to Safety and Future

Photo by ZENIT (DCL) – Samir Hanna, right, with brother Ghaith, left

Then, we spoke to a Syrian refugee and his brother who had been brought back by the Pope from the Greek Island of Lesbos, during his day visit to meet with refugees, along with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, on April 16, 2016.

Originally from Damascus, Syria, Samir Hanna, 28, was in the first row, with his brother, Ghaith, 21. They both had been brought into Italy by Pope Francis and now are living in Genoa.

Both were smiling as they expressed how the Holy Father’s efforts brought them to safety.

“It was war, when we were in Syria. Things were bleak. But Pope Francis helped us. He welcomed us, even into his home of the Vatican, through the Community of Sant’Egidio. Now I feel safe and as though I have a future.”

He is studying and training to be a barber, and expressed: “I feel very blessed to see Pope Francis again today.”

A Path Will Always Open

Eugenia Bolla, 18, still in high school, is following the Pope’s advice to never resign oneself to lesser realities than one can achieve. Noting she wishes to be an osteopathic, she too expressed that faith helps to keep things in perspective and to believe that despite obstacles, one can have dignity from work, “without going abroad to find other opportunities like many of my friends believe is necessary.”

Photo by ZENIT (DCL) – Eugenia Bolla, to the right, with her friend to the left

“We need to dedicate ourselves, persist, and recognize our own value,” she said, adding, “because a path will always open.”

“We, young people, love Pope Francis, who has a young spirit.

Personal Faith and Prayer

Francesco Corsiglia, 17, from Genoa, also expressed wishes to be a physician, but “it’s still early, so I haven’t decided what specialty I am interested in yet,” he said almost apologetically.

“But I really hope that I can be one like my dad.”

Photo by ZENIT (DCL) – Francesco Corasiglia

“While prayer helps comfort me personally, Pope Francis reminds young people of this, saying to never give up.”

About what he likes most about Pope Francis, “I appreciate his way of behaving which seems almost to be a lowering of himself in a greater way than past popes, which makes it easier for poorer people and families, and those in need or even at times excluded, in general, feel close to him and the Church.”

“The situation for young people in Italy,” he said, “is not maximum, for they are very little motivated, feeling already downcast about their prospects, and those who are more ambitious, tend to leave.”

“However, for me, it would be too difficult to separate me from Italy, but my faith helps me a lot. Prayer helps with the day to day and having trust regarding the future.”

God Reveals

Maurizio Chiappara, 19, from Genoa, is studying languages, French and Arabic, at the University of Genoa. Speaking in perfect English to us, he noted: ‘I want to have a good career which utilizes my interest in languages. God will reveal to me what.”

Photo by ZENIT (DCL) – Maurizio Chiappara

When asked about the situation of young people in Italy, he noted, it is difficult and many have “an almost defeated attitude,” and think their only way of having a career is to leave and go abroad.”

“However, I am convinced, it is not necessary. It is true it is very challenging, but with faith, it helps me to see the big picture and keep in mind that God can always realize His plans.”

“Pope Francis for me, is a messenger for the young people for the youth, because he represents what Christianity ought to be, in this moment of 2017, especially. I think that his attitude with young people and the environment set a real example. From my personal point of view, it seems the Church is more ‘fresh,’ if you will, than perhaps it had been in the past.”

“Most young Italians,” he explained, “are having difficulties finding jobs, being proud of being Italian, and in having courage to try to find work. It’s difficult to find a job we would like, as many of my friends go abroad because they think in Italy, there is no hope. I think we should find hope in ourselves.”

“Faith, or religion, help us—and in this way, the Pope too, reminds us—to understand why things happen, and it helps to understand that we are part of something bigger,” he said.

 

1 day 13 hours

While our feet are on earth, as Christians, our gaze is on heaven.

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis gave this reminder during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta as he reflected on the Christian’s place in the world.

During his homily, the Jesuit Pope pointed out how in the Scriptures, we are given three points of reference for the Christian journey: memory, prayer, and world.

Memory; That Which Gives Certainty Amid Trials

Looking at memory, he noted, the Risen Lord tells the disciples to go before Him to Galilee, marking the first encounter with the Lord.

“Each one of us “has his own ‘Galilee,’” where Jesus shows Himself for the first time, where we have known Him and have had “this joy, this enthusiasm for following Him.”

To be good Christians, the Holy Father underscored, it is necessary to always have this memory of the first encounter with Jesus, or of subsequent encounters.”

This is“the grace of memory,” he said, which in “the moment of trial, gives me certainty.”

Prayer: He Hears Us

Turning to prayer, Francis stressed that when Jesus ascended into heaven, He did not break off His relationship with us.

“Physically, yes,” he admitted. “But He is always joined to us by interceding for us. He shows the Father His wounds, the price He has paid for us, for our salvation.”

Given this, the Holy Father encouraged, “we must ask for the grace to contemplate heaven, the grace of prayer, the relationship with Jesus in prayer, that in the moment He hears us, He is with us.”

World: Mission

Turning to the final word “world,” Francis stressed, “Jesus, before He left them—as we heard yesterday in the Gospel of the Ascension—says to the disciples: ‘Go into the world and make disciples.’”

“Go: the Christian’s place is in the world in order to proclaim the Word of Jesus, in order to say that we are saved, that He is come to give us grace, to bring us all with Him before the Father.”

These three points of reference for our lives, Francis stressed, make up “the topography of the Christian spirit.”

“A Christian must move in these three dimensions, and request the grace of memory: saying to the Lord, ‘Don’t let me forget the moment when You chose me, don’t let me forget the moment we met.’ Then, praying, looking to heaven because He is there, interceding. He intercedes for us.”

“And then, going on mission: that is, not saying that everyone has to go to the foreign missions; [rather] going on mission is living and bearing witness to the Gospel, it is making Jesus known to all people.”

The Pope stressed we must do so through witness and through the Word, “because if I tell people about Jesus, and about the Christian life, and then live like a pagan, that won’t do. The mission will not go forward.”

If we follow however these three points of reference, the Pope said, Christian life will be beautiful and joyful.

Pope Francis concluded, praying, “May the Lord give us the grace to understand this topography of the Christian life and to go forward with joy, with that joy that no one can take from us.”

 

2 days 12 hours

‘Like the Virgin Mary, go on your way.’

Pope Francis gave this encouragement to participants in the 12th General Chapter of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity (Don Orione) at 12:30 p.m. today, in the Consistory Hall of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

The sisters’ general chapter took place May 1-20, 2017, in Rome on the theme: “To give oneself completely to God, to be completely given to the neighbour! PSMC: missionary disciples, joyful witnesses to charity in the suburbs of the world.”

In his remarks, Francis also reminded the sisters to be bold and courageous, to be prophets of mercy, and to be led by the Spirit and free from all ties.

The following is the Vatican Press Office-provided translation of the Pope’s address to those present:

DCL

***
Dear sisters,

Thank you for this visit during your General Chapter. I would particularly like to thank the Superior General and the advisors. And through you I also greet all the sisters of the Institute, especially those who are weaker and sick. I also greet the Contemplatives of Crucified Jesus and the sight-impaired Sacramentine sisters.

Founded by Don Orione, your institute is called upon to exercise charity towards your neighbour, especially towards the poorest, the abandoned and the excluded, as is well expressed by the theme you chose for this General Chapter: “To give oneself completely to God, to be completely given to the neighbour! PSMC: missionary disciples, joyful witnesses to charity in the suburbs of the world”. On behalf of the Church and many poor people, especially women and children, and so many people who suffer physically and psychologically, whom you assist, I thank you for your apostolic work in the various activities of youth ministry, in schools, in homes for the elderly, in the little “Cottolengo” institutes, in catechesis and oratories, with new forms of poverty, and in all places where Divine Providence has placed you.

You are called, and are by vocation, “missionaries”; that is, evangelizers, and at the same time you are at the service of the poor. Sisters, be missionaries without borders. To all, but especially to the poor, in whom you are called to recognize the flesh of Christ, bring the joy of the Gospel that is Jesus Himself. To all, show the beauty of God’s love manifested in the merciful face of Christ. With this beauty fill the hearts of those you encounter. Closeness, encounter, dialogue, and accompaniment are your missionary approach. And do not let yourselves be robbed of the joy of evangelization.

Mission and service to the poor mean you are “outbound”, and help you overcome the risks of self-referentiality, of limiting yourselves to survival and self-defensive rigidity (cf. Evangelii gaudium , 27, 45). Mission and service make you take on the dynamics of exodus and giving, of coming out of yourselves, of walking and sowing; as well as pastoral conversion, so that all structures are evangelizing and at the service of your charism (cf. ibid ., 21, 25.131). For all these purposes, it is vital to nurture communion with the Lord, knowing that your intimacy with Him “is part of a common journey; communion and mission are profoundly interconnected” ( ibid ., 23); it is never still. In prayer, in communion.

In the Church, mission is born of the encounter with Christ (cf. Phil 3: 12-16). The Father’s envoy now sends us. It is He Who calls us and sends us. The centre of the Church’s mission is Jesus. As His disciples, you are called to be women who work assiduously to transcend, projecting towards the encounter with the Master and the culture in which you live.

The missionary is required to be a bold and creative person. The convenient criterion of “it has always been the case” is not valid. It is not valid. Think of the aims, the structures, the style and the methods of your mission (cf. EG , 33). We are living in a time when we need to rethink everything in the light of what the Spirit asks us. This demands a special look at the recipients of the mission and reality itself: the look of Jesus, which is the look of the Good Shepherd; a gaze that does not judge, but which grasps the presence of the Lord in history; a gaze of closeness, to contemplate, to be moved, and to stay with the other as often as necessary; a deep look of faith; a respectful gaze, full of compassion, that heals, frees, and comforts. This special look will make you courageous and creative and will help you always to be in search of new ways to bring the Good News that is Christ to all.

The missionary is also required to be a free person, who lives without anything of his or her own. I never tire of repeating that comfort, lethargy and worldliness are forces that prevent the missionary from “going out”, “starting out” and moving on, and ultimately sharing the gift of the Gospel. The missionary can not walk with the heart full of things (comfort), an empty heart (lethargy) or in search of things extraneous to the glory of God (worldliness). The missionary is a person who is free of all these ballasts and chains; a person who lives without anything of his own, only for the Lord and His Gospel; a person who lives on a constant path of personal conversion and works without rest towards pastoral conversion.

The missionary is required to be a person inhabited by the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit Who reminds the disciples of all that Jesus said to them (cf. Jn 14:16), Who teaches them (cf. Jn 16: 14-15), Who bear witness to Jesus and leads the disciples, in turn, to bear witness to Him (Cf. Jn 15: 26-27). The missionary is asked to be a person obedient to the Spirit, to follow His movement, the “wind” that pushes towards the most unimagined places to announce the Gospel there. In such obedience, he or she is called to grow continually, to become capable of perceiving the presence of Jesus in so many people discarded by society. You too, dear sisters, be in this sense spiritual people, let yourselves be led, driven and guided by the Spirit.

A missionary is required to have a spirituality based on Christ, the Word of God, and on the liturgy. A “holistic” spirituality, involving the whole person in its various dimensions, based on complementarity, integrating and incorporating. It allows you to be daughters of heaven and daughters of the earth, mystical and prophetic, disciples and witnesses at the same time.

Finally, the missionary is required to be a prophet of mercy. The Year of Consecrated Life came to an end as the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy began. This path called upon us to clean our eyes and our hearts of indifference so as to welcome and offer to the world, with humility, as servants, the prophecy of mercy, in the likeness of God the Father. Your charism of service to the poor demands that you exercise the prophecy of mercy, that is, to be people centred on God and on the crucified of this world. Let yourselves be provoked by the cry of help from so many situations of pain and suffering. As prophets of mercy, announce the Father’s forgiveness and embrace, a source of joy, serenity and peace (cf. Misericordiae Vultus , 2).

Along with the other institutes and movements founded by Don Orione, you form a family. I encourage you to walk the paths of collaboration with all the members of this rich charismatic family. No one in the Church walks “in solitude”. Cultivate between you the spirit of encounter, the spirit of family and cooperation.

I conclude by offering to you as an example for your mission and for your service to the poor the icon of the Visitation. Like the Virgin Mary, go on your way, in haste – not the rush of the world, but that of God – and, full of the joy that dwells in your heart, sing your Magnificat . Sing the love of God for every creature. Announce to today’s men and women that God is love and can fill the heart of those who seek Him and who let themselves be encountered by Him.

[Vatican Press Office-provided text]
2 days 13 hours

Roman Rite

Acts 1.1-11; Ps 47; Eph 1: 17-23; Mt 28: 16-20

 

Ambrosian Rite

Acts 1.6-13a; Ps 47; Eph 4: 7-13; Lk 24, 36b-53

1) Not an easy feast.

Forty days ago, we celebrated Easter: the resurrection of Christ was for us a great joy. Today, the liturgy offers us His ascension to heaven as a cause for joy: “Today, in fact, we are commemorating that day on which our poor human nature was carried up, in Christ …to the very throne of God the Father” (Saint Leo the Great, Disc. 2 on Ascension, 1, 4; PL 54, 397-399).

Ascension Day is not reducible to a strange feast where we are asked to be happy because Christ moves away from us going to heaven. What is the meaning of the “ascension” to heaven of the risen Christ? “It means believing that, in Christ, man, the being a man to which we all belong to, entered unheard and new in the intimacy of God. It means that man always finds space in God. Heaven is not a place above the stars, it is something much bolder and bigger: it is to find man’s place in God, and this has its foundation in the interpenetration of humanity and divinity in the crucified and elevated Jesus- man. Christ, the man who is in God, is at the same time God’s perpetual being open to man. He himself is therefore what we call ‘heaven’, for heaven is not a space, but a person, the person of the one in whom God and man are always inseparably united “(Joseph Ratzinger, Preaching and Dogma, Brescia 1983).

Indeed, the final sentence of today’s Gospel: “Behold, I am with you always until the end of ages” (Mt 28: 20), does not contain the words of someone who leaves his friends alone on earth. These last words of Jesus are not a farewell, but explain that He is the living Lord of an unlimited life and that every day He is present with his word and his comforting Love, his Church and his Mystical Body until the fulfillment of time.

Jesus, the Son of God entered into history to be “God with us”, fully fulfills his mission in the total gift of himself by dying and resurrecting, to be the revealed Love that becomes infinite when he is destroyed, when he gives his life. Ascension is the fulfillment of the mystery of God’s Love: by dying Jesus abolishes all limits in order to be “God with us”. He is with us to be the Love that redeems our love and makes our heart capable of dwelling in Love.

Therefore, if Ascension is not an easy-to-understand feast, why does it make arise spontaneously the question: “Why to celebrate if the Beloved is leaving?” On the other hand, the Ascension is a clear feast, because this is “not a cosmic geographic path but the spatial navigation of the heart that leads us from closing ourselves to the love that embraces the universe” (Benedict XVI).  The Ascension is the feast of our destiny that has as its destination the loving heaven of God, who elevates the land of our humanity.

It is a fest that shows us that heaven and earth, possession and sacrifice, peace and fatigue are not in contradiction. It is not enough that our existence is entirely and sincerely turned to heaven, then to earth and then again to heaven. Our going to heaven must be gradually completed, in a way such that our living on earth reveals that of heaven. Our living on earth gradually arises in prayer of desire, and this prayer of desire is clarified in adoration. It is not enough for our lives to be entirely and sincerely peace, then struggle and then peace again: our peace must be like the strength that we have accumulated for our effort, and the effort like a spiral of peace.

2) Ascension and Mission.

This destiny of perfect peace in love is interwoven with our mission: “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” ( Mt 28: 19-20).

The Ascension of Christ that St. Matthew narrates at the end of his gospel, is a great beginning. The disciples see Jesus as He is, as in transfiguration. They love him and prostrate themselves as a sign of total abandonment. On this relationship of love, they welcome the “command” to go all over the world, and to rely on universal perspectives, teaching and christening. To baptize does not mean pouring a little of water on a person’s head, but plunging him into God, in the God of Life, and then teaching him to observe what He commands. What does Christ command?  Love. His command is to immerse the human person and teach to love letting be loved and giving love.

It is to fulfill a mission of charity according to the heart of Christ who also asks us:

“Go,” that is to overcome any cultural and religious barriers;

“Make disciples all the nations”, that is that we form a “new people of peoples”;

“Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, that is that we bring to the whole world the revelation of this divine name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;

  “By teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” and thus announcing to men the whole revelation of God, which also brings with it the same revelation of man. One can perceive what man truly is, only in light of this revelation of God. The conciliar document Gaudium et Spes (No. 22) proclaims that the mystery of man is truly enlighten only in the mystery of the incarnate Word.

These indications would be impractical without Christ, who also says to us, “Behold, I am with you every day until the end of the world.” He is always present beside us and in us. We Christians do not trust in ourselves, in our abilities, but in the presence of the Lord.

With Christ, in Christ and for Christ, we become reliable witnesses all over the world. There are no boundaries, prohibited places, peoples or men to whom Christ cannot and should not be witnessed. He is the Lord of all things and of all humans, and therefore must be announced to all and everywhere.

To say that Jesus is the “Lord of all” means affirming, in other words, that He gives meaning to all things. “Go and make disciples”: the mission assumes an assignment. No one announces Jesus in his own name, and, less of all, his own thoughts, but only “all that He commanded.” The disciple must announce in the utmost fidelity and his announcement must arise from listening.

The mission requires a departure: “go”. The disciple does not expect the people of the world to come near: it is he who goes to them. “Make disciples of all nations”: the expression is filled with all the meaning that the word “disciple” has in the Gospel. It is not simply a matter of offering a message, but of establishing a relationship of communion. The disciple is tied to the Master’s person and is committed to sharing his life plan. “I will be with you until the end of time.” This is the great promise that gives the disciple the strength to carry out his mission, going everywhere in the world and preaching the Gospel.

In fact, Christ does not say “Preach the morals of Greek wisdom.” He does not say, for example, to explain Aristotle’s ethics not only because the Apostles were less educated, but because every wisdom becomes of a little value when a person puts himself at the school of Christ, who lovingly guides his sheep that follow Him to the eternal pastures of truth and joy. What Christ demands from men in order to be able to enter the Kingdom of God, is not a certificate of study or of an established career. He asks for a much simpler and radical act: the conversion of the heart and the rebirth in faith and baptism.

“Whoever believes and will be baptized shall be saved: he that doesn’t believe shall be condemned.” First of all “to believe,” because to believe is the fundamental act of Christian life. By believing, by the act of faith, the human person freely chooses the Kingdom of God offered to him by the Church’s magisterium. By the act of faith, therefore, the Christian accepts all the truths to believe: all that Christ has taught us about God and man, about sin and death, judgment, and Paradise.

To believe then is to see life solely in the light of these truths by accepting the “gentle and light” yoke of the law of love for God and neighbor,

Finally, to believe is to live with the mind and the heart, with the thought and the action in the reality of divine life.

In this we find an example in the consecrated virgins who, with their entire life given to Christ, “preach” the loving truth and the redemptive love of God. These women testify that Christian life is linked to the Ascension because our lives are realized by going to heaven, and depend on the fidelity to the promises made in Baptism and renewed in consecration.

With human fragility, but certain in the belief that God is strong in the weak, the consecrated virgins accompany the Bridegroom in his ascension, rejoice in his glorification, live in advance the dimension of Paradise and remind us that the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord is the liturgical feast of Paradise that is open to humanity by the solemn entrance of Christ into heaven to the right of the Father. In his farewell, Jesus leaves to the apostles (and to us) his truth and power, for his ascension was not a departure but an intensification of his presence to the extreme limits of space and time: “Behold, I am with You every day until the end of the world “(Mt 28:20).

Patristic reading

Saint Leo the Great, pope
 Sermon 2 de Ascensione 1-4

PL 54, 397-399

Our faith is increased by the Lord’s ascension


At Easter, beloved brethren, it was the Lord’s resurrection which was the cause of our joy; our present rejoicing is on account of his ascension into heaven. With all due solemnity we are commemorating that day on which our poor human nature was carried up, in Christ, above all the hosts of heaven, above all the ranks of angels, beyond the highest heavenly powers to the very throne of God the Father. It is upon this ordered structure of divine acts that we have been firmly established, so that the grace of God may show itself still more marvelous when, in spite of the withdrawal from men’s sight of everything that is rightly felt to command their reverence, faith does not fail, hope is not shaken, charity does not grow cold.


For such is the power of great minds, such is the light of truly believing souls, that they put unhesitating faith in what is not seen with the bodily eye; they fix their desires on what is beyond sight. Such fidelity could never be born in our hearts, nor could anyone be justified by faith, if our salvation lay only in what was visible.


And so our Redeemer’s visible presence has passed into the sacraments. Our faith is nobler and stronger because sight has been replaced by a doctrine whose authority is accepted by believing hearts, enlightened from on high. This faith was increased by the Lord’s ascension and strengthened by the gift of the Spirit; it would remain unshaken by fetters and imprisonment, exile and hunger, fire and ravening beasts, and the most refined tortures ever devised by brutal persecutors. Throughout the world women no less than men, tender girls as well as boys, have given their life’s blood in the struggle for this faith. It is a faith that has driven out devils, healed the sick and raised the dead.


Even the blessed apostles, though they had been strengthened by so many miracles and instructed by so much teaching, took fright at the cruel suffering of the Lord’s passion and could not accept his resurrection without hesitation. Yet they made such progress through his ascension that they now found joy in what had terrified them before. They were able to fix their minds on Christ’s divinity as he sat at the right hand of his Father, since what was presented to their bodily eyes no longer hindered them from turning all their attention to the realization that he had not left his Father when he came down to earth, nor had he abandoned his disciples when he ascended into heaven.


The truth is that the Son of Man was revealed as Son of God in a more perfect and transcendent way once he had entered into his Father’s glory; he now began to be indescribably more present in his divinity to those from whom he was further removed in his humanity. A more mature faith enabled their minds to stretch upward to the Son in his equality with the Father; it no longer needed contact with Christ’s tangible body, in which as man he is inferior to the Father. For while his glorified body retained the same nature, the faith of those who believed in him was now summoned to heights where, as the Father’s equal, the only-begotten Son is reached not by physical handling but by spiritual discernment.

***

With the wish that our heart ascend to heaven with Christ, Don Franco

2 days 20 hours

“The vertebral column of the Church is the suffering of the small Churches,” said Monsignor Louis Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, quoting the Pope. Monsignor Ling is Bishop of Pakse and Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Vientiane, capital of Laos. He will be created Cardinal on June 28, 2017; his name was announced by the Pope, along with that of four others, last May 21, during the Regina Caeli prayer.

The Bishop of Pakse agreed to be interviewed by ZENIT last February, during the Visit ad Limina of the Laotian and Cambodian Bishops to Rome. He described the difficult situation in his country, which lives under a Communist regime, the Church of Laos’ attempt at dialogue with the government, the teaching plans for seminarians and the encouragement that the Asian Bishops received from the Pope at Rome.

“The strength of the Church in the entire world is the suffering of the small Churches,” said Monsignor Ling quoting the Pope’s words, spoken during the homily of January 30, 2017. “He repeated that,” stressed Monsignor Ling. “The strength and power of the Church resides in the small suffering Churches. The Pontiff said this in Saint Martha’s Chapel . . . this was truly an encouragement for us. It’s thanks to the small Churches, to their sufferings, that we live here in tranquillity,” said Francis.

Beatification of Martyrs of Laos

Monsignor Ling believes that “there is a truly theological spirituality” in this message of the Pope, who alluded to the Beatification of 17 martyrs of Laos — of which 11 were French missionaries –, on December 11, 2016, at Vientiane. The Laotian government accepted this Beatification: “For me, it’s still a miracle,” avowed Monsignor Ling. “For that a step was taken, a process to choose the vocabulary, how to present it to the government, so that the government could understand and accept it.”

Filipino Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, OMI, Archbishop of Cotabato, who represented Pope Francis, presided over the Mass of Beatification, in the presence of some 6,000 people, of which 15 were Bishops of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

“A Cardinal was desired who would represent the Pope, but he should be Asiatic and, above all, as close to us as possible, who understood us. So Cardinal Orlando Quevedo’s name was suggested, because I have known him for some time. I met him at Manila, in Korea and in Vietnam, because in our meetings we are always together . . . He knows our problems, he also has the same problems we have,” explained Monsignor Ling.

“When this was being prepared, a list of guests was drawn up. I presented it to the government to obtain a special visa. The government said: it’s not necessary,” continued Monsignor Ling. Priests came to Laos with a tourist visa, certain Asian Cardinals did not need a visa, “it made it easier for us,” said Monsignor Ling. “From Western Europe there were MEPs (Foreign Missions of Paris), Oblates, because among the martyrs, there were six Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) and five members of the Foreign Mission of Paris, all French. They were murdered, executed or perished from exhaustion during the Communist guerilla between 1954 and 1970.

A representative of the Laos government took part in the celebration. “He was invited. He said something that was very good. Truly, everyone was happy . . . After that, I went with Cardinal Quevedo to thank [the government] for their permission <and> their support,” explained Monsignor Ling. The Bishop of Pakse believes it is “an opening towards dialogue” with the government.

Celebration at Paris: “Pray to Our Martyrs”

There was also a great thanksgiving celebration for this Beatification on February 5, 2017 at Notre Dame of Paris with Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois. Cardinal Vingt-Trois said: ”We must be grateful to those who built the Church with their blood,” added Monsignor Ling.

“It was a thanksgiving, which means: thank you for the depth of the heart. It is said in the Psalms: Let us give thanks to the Lord, because He is good. The word is truly sown in the heart so that it grows and produces,” continued Monsignor Ling.

“Pray to our martyrs, because we need their support now for the Canonization. It is necessary to pray so that there is a miracle, so that one can say: see, that’s a miracle of the martyrs of Laos,” enthused Monsignor Ling. The liturgical feast of the martyrs of Laos  “will be on December 16,” specified the Bishop of Pakse.

Laos, a Different Country

Laos is distinguished from other Asian countries. “Laos is very different. Firstly, the country is under a Communist regime. Hence religious liberty and pastoral activities are restricted,” stressed Monsignor Ling.

There are no media or radio means. “Social activities” are hardly beginning. Catholics of the Vicariate of Thakhek-Savannakhet organized a kindergarten at the Laos Center. “In this Vicariate primary courses are beginning, explained Monsignor LIng, “while elsewhere there is nothing.”

In the four Apostolic Vicariates of Laos (Thakhek-Savannakhet at the Laos Center, Vientiane and Luang Prabang in the North and Pakse in the South) only Catholics of Laotian origin can work; there are no foreign missionaries.

“In Cambodia, there are above all missionaries, especially foreigners. While in Laos they are all Laotians,” he continued. “All the missionaries were thanked and sent back to their countries” in 1975, when Laos became a Socialist State, led by the Popular Revolutionary Party, a unique party of the Marxist-Leninist line.

“We were not prepared” for the departure of some “200 missionaries,” lamented Monsignor Ling. At that time there were “not even twenty Laotian” missionaries “in the whole country.”

Laos has some six million inhabitants, 40-50 thousand of whom are Catholics, more or less, it is said. “One cannot give exact statistics, because there are many problems” in this regard.

In regard to men and women religious, “the most numerous feminine religious Community is that of the Sisters of Charity – more or less fifty, perhaps sixty. After that, there are Sisters Lovers of the Cross; it is the second Community, with about thirty. And then <there are> the others. There are Daughters of Charity, of the Philippines, they are four,” he continued explaining.

“The Laotian government accepts” that the women religious work “in center of re-education of the handicapped. The government accepts it because it is a fact. Another Center is being established in the East, in the province of Sekong, a center of rehabilitation for the handicapped. The Sisters asked to have a chaplain..” The government agreed but said he “must be a Laotian.”

“The same is true for young people. There are at least two Communities openly accepted by the government.” Salesian Sisters of Vietnam were invited to Laos to work with young people. “The Salesians of Vietnam were accepted in Laos. I saw the other day that there are two or three at Thakhek.”

Formation of Future Priests

The formation of future priests is an important problem for Laos. Monsignor Ling sent two seminarians to France, to Ars, but the cultural shock was great for them, it was an “uprooting.” “Yet they are pretty intelligent people; they are very appreciated at the Seminary, to the point that the Superior came to Laos to meet them after their studies,” he revealed.

Monsignor Ling prefers to send the seminarians to Asian countries, such as the Philippines or Vietnam. “The formation in the Philippines is appreciable. There are no language obstacles as everyone speaks English. The teaching is given in English; the preparation of seminarians is done in English.”

In Vietnam, the Catholic Institute opened its doors officially on September 20, 2016. “In 2016 I already began to give courses. However, if you want me to send seminarians or priests . . . it’s necessary to teach them directly in English, because if they are obliged to learn Vietnamese, that takes time . . .  In the beginning, there weren’t priests, but when I said that, Monsignor Ngueng (Monsignor Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, President of the Episcopal Conference of Vietnam, NDLR) was truly enthusiastic.

“The Church of Vietnam has weight, because out of 90-95 million inhabitants, there are at least eight million Catholics. That means that they are 6 to 7%  <of the population> . . . it’s already important,” explained Monsignor Ling.

“If you wish to criticize me, go ahead,” said the Pope

Monsignor Ling also said a few words about the meeting with Pope Francis during the Laotian and Cambodian Bishops’ Visit ad Limina. “This time it was very different compared to the other Visit ad Limina we had on 2007 with Pope Benedict XVI. This time we were all together, we spent all the time together with the Pope. The Pope invited us to speak. He said frankly: “Talk about whatever you wish,  if you want to criticize me also, go ahead. That was a bit strong!” said Monsignor Ling laughing.

Information gathered by Anita Bourdin

2 days 21 hours

Some one hundred extremists of the “Maute” Islamist group affiliated to ISIS, occupied Marawi City, in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), chief town of the Province of Lanao del Sur on Tuesday, May 23, and attacked the local Catholic Cathedral.

Not only did the militiamen destroy the Cathedral and the Bishop’s residence, but they also kidnapped some 15 faithful, among them a priest, some women religious and some lay people who were praying in the Cathedral, on the last day of the Novena to Mary Help of Christians, whose feast is celebrated today.

Monsignor Edwin De la Pena , who heads the territorial Prelature of Marawi City, confirmed the news to Fides agency. “They erupted in the church, seized the hostages and led them to an unknown locality. They entered the Bishop’s residence and kidnapped the Vicar General, Father Teresito Soganub. Then they set fire to the Cathedral and the Bishop’s residence,” he said.

“It happened in fact on the eve of Mary’s feast: we ask her for help,” because “only she can come to our aid,” continued Monsignor De la Pena. “We also make an appeal to Pope Francis to pray for us and to ask the terrorists to release the hostages, in the name of our common humanity.”

To address the crisis in the ARMM region, which is made up of five primarily Muslim provinces of Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte interrupted his visit to Moscow to return to his country and he decreed martial law. Marawi City has some 200,000 inhabitants, mainly Muslims. For decades the South of the Philippines, which is predominantly Muslim, has been the theater of a bloody civil war between the central government of Manila and separatist and Islamic groups.

2 days 21 hours

“The Holy See can play a unique role for reconciliation in the Holy Land between Israelis and Palestinians. It is accepted by both sides. It is above parties . . . it is a unique entity which can offer mediation,” said Monsignor Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem, in an interview with Zenit.

Monsignor Sabbah, head of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, commented on the question of “normalization,” stated in a press release of the Commission, published on May 22, 2017, as “some people, also here in the country, seem to be used to living with drama, with daily death and mutual hatred,” he said.

***

ZENIT: On the international scene, can the Holy See help the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue?

Monsignor Sabbah: I believe the Holy See can play a unique role for reconciliation in the Holy Land between Israelis and Palestinians; it is accepted by both sides; it is above parties. It has evangelical values that make it present in the world, without drowning in the world’s problems. Therefore, I believe, it is the unique entity that can offer a mediation, especially at this time and this standstill, to which the situation has arrived. Nothing more remains than the Holy See. In Israel and in the Jewish world, there is a great number <of people> who want to see the end of this drama that is played in the Holy Land. I hope that the Holy See can truly bring to the Holy Land the peace that Christ came to bring to the whole world, and there, where He came, to Jerusalem and to all the Holy Land.

ZENIT: Why did the Justice and Peace Commission publish the press release on “normalization”?

Monsignor Sabbah: There is no particular event that called for the publication of this document. In its monthly meeting, the Commission engages simply in a reflection on the country’s situation. This subject was presented for its reflection as a characteristic of a situation lived by all, Palestinians and Israelis, a situation of conflict that began at the beginning of the 20th century and has never ended. There have been many wars and confrontations between the two sides, without being able to put an end to the mutual hostilities. In this situation of conflict, of an ever open wound, there are every day men, women and children that suffer or die. They seem to be forgotten. Certain <people> in this country also, seem to be used to living with the drama, with daily death and mutual hatred. The same is true of the many visitors, politicians, men of the Church, pilgrims, who seem to pass by and return home as if the situation were normal, as if there is no more conflict, injustices to redress, a military occupation to end, in short, two peoples to reconcile. A dialogue carried out here should have one concern, one prayer, for the reality lived, so that the conflict comes to an end and the two peoples can finally be reconciled and truly begin a situation of normal.

ZENIT: What can the Church do on the spot?

Monsignor Sabbah: One side is conscious of the “disease” present to be healed; another side fears burning its fingers, or thinks that any intervention is futile and that the question is purely political, without any human dimension that must draw its attention, its love and its action. It’s not about appealing for revolt, but of completing the prayer in God’s house by a look at what is happening in the street, and by a love that bears the concerns of human persons that suffer and a love that tries to help the healing of the wound of more than one sufferer.

ZENIT: Without getting involved in politics?

Monsignor Sabbah: On the part of the political Authorities, as well as the structures of the Church, the “political” situation here is considered as a taboo for the Church. Whereas the situation is not only political, it is a “human” situation where men and women suffer, and to whom help must be brought, and it is altogether necessary to be simply conscious of their existence and their sufferings, and not have the attitude of the rich man in the parable of the Gospel, who was unable to see the poor Lazarus lying at his door. In short, it’s not about engaging in politics but of seeing “the human person” that suffers. For the Church, for every Christian, for the Lord Jesus, everything that is human concerns us. And what is happening today in Israel-Palestine is very simply an abnormal human situation of which one must become aware to be capable and to have the courage to love and to say a word to heal.

2 days 21 hours

 

Pope Francis lost no time in appointing the Cardinal Archbishop of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, Gualtiero Bassetti, to succeed the Cardinal Archbishop of Genoa, Angelo Bagnasco, as leader of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI).

The announcement was made by the outgoing President at the end of the Mass celebrated on Wednesday, May 24, in the Vatican Basilica. “And now I have the honor and pleasure to communicate that the Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Bassetti President of the Italian Episcopal Conference,” said Bagnasco, as reported by SIR (Religious Information Service) agency, which depends on CEI itself.

The appointment, which was confirmed at the end of the morning by a bulletin of the Vatican Press Office, is no surprise. Not only did the Archbishop of Perugia receive the most votes of the short list of three candidates, chosen by the Italian Bishops meeting in General Assembly in the Vatican and then presented to Pope Francis, but as is known the Pontiff has always had great esteem for Bassetti, creating him Cardinal on the occasion of the Consistory of February 22, 2014 — the first of his Pontificate.

Born on April 7, 1942 at Popolano di Marradi, a municipality in the province of Florence on the Roman side of the Appenines, the Cardinal already exceeds the limit of 75 years of age imposed by the Code of Canon Law (Canon 401, paragraph 1), but the Pontiff has extended his tenure as leader of the Umbrian Archdiocese with the formula “donec aliter provideatur”) (“until decided otherwise”).

With the metaphor used by Pope Francis, Cardinal Bassetti can be described as a pastor “with the odor of the sheep.” The Cardinal is noted in fact for his closeness to the people and his sensitivity to the problems connected with the world of work.

Together with the Bishop of the City of Castello, Monsignor Domenico Cancian, in June of 2008 he signed a document in support of workers of the Buitoni di Sansepolcro establishment, which was about to be sold to a new firm, expressing concern “for the social and economic consequences” of such a change of ownership.

2 days 22 hours

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Posted
Vatican City, May 28, 2017 / 05:21 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On the Feast of the Ascension, Pope Francis said that when Jesus rose into heaven, he entrusted his Church with the great and dignified responsibility of spreading his Word and making it accessible to everyone. 19 hours 24 min
Genoa, Italy, May 27, 2017 / 10:54 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the feast of the Ascension in Genoa Saturday, telling faithful that Jesus never leaves us alone and is constantly praying and interceding for us to the Father. 1 day 13 hours
Vatican City, May 27, 2017 / 07:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Saturday Pope Francis paid a visit to the Italian diocese of Genoa, where he had lengthy Q&A sessions with youth, the city's working class, and their bishops, priests and religious, challenging them and offering anecdotes to modern problems.   1 day 17 hours
Denver, Colo., May 27, 2017 / 05:02 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- In response to Denver's large homeless population, the city is providing lockers for the homeless to place their belongings so they can take better advantage of local outreach programs. 1 day 19 hours
Rome, Italy, May 27, 2017 / 04:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Priests in Iraq are helping reconstruct around 13,000 homes in the Plain of Nineveh which have been damaged or destroyed by ISIS so that Christians will have a place to come back to. 1 day 20 hours
Vatican City, May 26, 2017 / 12:37 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Addressing the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity on Friday, Pope Francis spoke to them about their charism for evangelization, especially to the poor, encouraging them to be joyful in their mission. 2 days 12 hours
Cairo, Egypt, May 26, 2017 / 10:56 am (EWTN News/CNA).- An attack on a bus carrying Christian pilgrims in Egypt on Friday killed at least 28 people, including children, and injured at least 22 more. 2 days 13 hours
Washington D.C., May 26, 2017 / 07:04 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Members of the newest priestly ordination class in the United States were closely connected to the Church growing up through their Catholic school or parish, according to a new survey of the 2017 ordinands. 2 days 17 hours
Louisville, Ky., May 26, 2017 / 06:22 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The former head of the US bishops decried President Trump's budget plan, claiming its cuts to social services conflict with both the Catholic faith and American principles. 2 days 18 hours
Vatican City, May 26, 2017 / 05:32 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Friday the Vatican announced that Bishop Angelo de Donatis had been chosen by Pope Francis as the new Vicar of Rome, who will oversee the administrative needs of the Roman diocese, including its clergy. 2 days 19 hours
Baton Rouge, La., May 26, 2017 / 04:33 am (EWTN News/CNA).- The numbers are staggering. Each year in the U.S. alone, some 300,000 minors are victims of sex trafficking.
2 days 20 hours
Washington D.C., May 26, 2017 / 04:02 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- As military veterans and victims of violence are treated for psychological trauma, the emotional wounds of missionaries and military chaplains might be overlooked, but are just as present. 2 days 20 hours
Washington D.C., May 26, 2017 / 01:42 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Preview footage released recently by the Center for Medical Progress appears to show participants at a national abortion convention casually discussing the skulls, eyeballs and other baby body parts they encounter in abortion procedures. 2 days 23 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Reliable world news and analysis from a Catholic perspective.
Posted

Vatican and Israeli officials have begun discussions about a possible visit by Pope Francis to the Holy Land, according to the Times of Israel.

2 days 12 hours

The use of civilians as weapons of war represents the most execrable of human behavior,” the Vatican’s representative told a UN forum on protection of civilians during wartime.

2 days 12 hours

Pope Francis encouraged the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity to be “missionaries without borders,” as he spoke on May 26 to leaders of the religious order who were gathered in Rome for their general chapter.

2 days 13 hours

At a brief ceremony in Rouen last week, a cause for the beatification of Father Jacques Hamel was formally opened.

2 days 13 hours

The Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow is attempting to enlist the Vatican and other Christian bodies in opposition to proposed regarding religion in Ukraine.

2 days 14 hours

Gunmen in military uniforms stopped a bus carrying Coptic Orthodox pilgrims in Egypt on May 26, and opened fire on the passengers, killing at least 26 people and wounding a roughly equal number.

2 days 17 hours

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Agostino Vallini, 77, as vicar general of Rome and archpriest of the Lateran Basilica and has named Bishop Angelo de Donatis as his successor.

2 days 23 hours

Islamic terrorists on Mindanao have reportedly threatened to begin killing the hostages they seized in the city of Marawi, if the government of the Philippines does not comply with their demand for an end to military action against their separatist movement.

2 days 23 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Latest News Releases from USCCB
Posted
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement in the wake of the latest attack on Christians in the Middle East. In what officials are calling a terrorist attack, masked gunmen opened fire on a bus that killed 28 people including men, women and children. State TV is reporting the Coptic Christians were attacked while on their way to Mass at the St. Samuel Monastery in Minya province, located about 140 miles south of Cairo. Many children are reported among the dead. The attack also wounded up to 22 others.   

Full statement follows:

"They were children on their way to Mass.  They were mothers and fathers taking their children to Mass.  And this morning they became targets of yet another horrendous attack on Christians, murdered as they rode to Church together.  Dozens of others were injured in the attack today in Egypt on Coptic Christians. Only a few short weeks ago, on Palm Sunday, many Christians were slaughtered simply because they were worshipping God.  Now, as we approach Pentecost, the same unspeakable evil emerges again and repeats itself.  Pope Francis, during his recent visit to the noble land of Egypt said, ' ... the innocent blood of defenseless Christians was cruelly shed: their innocent blood unites us.'  Though our grief is unbearable, our unity grows all the more strong. That unity is the way to peace.

On behalf of the Bishops of the United States, on behalf of Catholics and all people of good will across our nation, I commend the souls of those who have died to the loving arms of the Lord Jesus and entrust those who are injured and those who mourn to the embrace of Our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Mercy."

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Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Egypt,  terror attack, Coptic Christians, Mass, children, bus attack, Jesus, innocent blood, Our Lady of Mercy.

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Judy Keane
202-541-3200

2 days 13 hours