Saturday, September 19, 2009











Pope Benedict XVI spoke on Saturday to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishop of the Eastern Catholic Churches in a meeting at Castel Gandolfo. The Pope announced a special meeting of the Synod of Bishops to discuss the Church in the Middle East. He noted that this meeting will strengthen the communion of these churches with the Successor of Peter, and he also emphasized the special role of the Eastern Catholic Church in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. He said the Universal Church can learn from the experience the Eastern Churches have gathered since the first Christian millennium.Pope Benedict ended his remarks by making a special appeal for peace in the Middle East. (SOURCE:



CNA reports that a young woman has completed a Chicago half-marathon in a fundraising campaign to help eliminate her personal debt so she can enter religious life.
Alicia Torres, a 2007 graduate of Loyola University Chicago, began “The Nun Run” campaign with the support of friends. She and five companions ran the 13.1-mile Chicago Half Marathon on September 13 to raise funds to help pay down her debt.
In a Thursday e-mail interview with CNA, Torres said she plans to be a part of a new Franciscan community at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angles in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park neighborhood. The community is under obedience to Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Francis George and will be under the oversight of Fr. Bob Lombardo, CFR.
“It is a great joy and honor for me to be part of this beautiful work for God,” she said.
Torres said the Chicago Half Marathon went “tremendously well” despite an ankle injury two weeks prior to the race.“This was my first distance run since freshman year of high school when I ran cross country. I was able to finish 13.1 miles on Sunday in 2:40:03 (Thanks be to God!).”
Though “extremely exhausted,” Torres said it was motivating for her to offer a specific intention for each mile.She reported that she has raised at least $28,000, not including donations sent to the Laboure Society within the past two weeks. The Laboure Society, an organization dedicated to eliminating debt for prospective entrants to religious life or the priesthood, is helping the young woman.
According to Torres, her initial debt of $94,000 was due to some “very bad interest rates,” adding that she works full time and has paid down over $12,000 of her debt with her own money. Torres presently works for the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Respect Life Office.
Her “very positive” interactions with the media have assisted her cause. The Chicago Tribune’s Manya Brashear was “such a delight” and spent nearly six hours with her and her community, Torres told CNA. The Catholic New World, where her friend Joyce Duriga is an editor, has also been helpful as has radio host Drew Mariani.
Torres reported that the first day she was on Mariani’s show she received about $4,500 in donations.
She said she was “absolutely shocked” to be interviewed for the National Public Radio show “All Things Considered.”
“I had wanted to pursue a career in journalism before I became serious about God's call and will for me, and so all of this just proves God is not outdone in generosity,” said Torres.
She told CNA that a “vocal minority” has doubted the authenticity of her mission, an attitude which she attributed to a lack of understanding of the nature of religious life and how it differs from the life of a lay person working with the poor.
“I am humbled by the support of absolute strangers,” she added. “I've had several checks for hundreds and even $1,000 from people I don't even know. An anonymous donor sent $10,000 to help me. As I said, God is just not outdone in generosity.”
Torres said she has been invited to be a guest speaker at a local Catholic elementary school for an all school assembly, where she will participate with the schoolchildren in their school's Fun-Run.
“My vocation to religious life is not just for me,” she told CNA. Though her vocation is her path to holiness, she said it is also for “God's people.”
“It is so beautiful to see so many--married couples, families and single people, priests and religious--come together to support, encourage, and above all pray for me! I am honored. And I owe it all to our Lord Jesus Christ through the intercession of His Mother Mary.”
Writing on her website, Torres explained that her vocation was nurtured through her faith life and her family. She and her siblings were homeschooled for some of their education and the focus of their family activities was St. Benedict’s Chapel. Torres said her mother would lead the children in daily prayers for vocations.
She described her parish priest Fr. Damien as a great influence and also praised the “motherly spirit” of Sr. Marie-Jean of Immaculate Heart of Mary School.
After college, her correspondence with a priest named Fr. Mercer and the invitation of Fr. Lombardo helped lead her to commit to religious life.
“I’ve finally been quiet enough to hear what God has been whispering in my heart for years, and now that I have experienced that Joy that only comes from God, I know there is nothing else that could complete me other than giving myself fully to my Beloved.”
Torres’ website is at


CISA reports that a new tax haven created by the West African state of Ghana could attract tax dodgers and drug traders seeking to launder money unless safeguards are introduced, warns a new report.The report, Taxation and Development in Ghana, co-funded by Christian Aid Ghana, says the potential detrimental effects of the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) could be felt across the region.The IFSChas been set up with the help of Barclays bank. “The risk of illicit funds finding their way into the offshore financial centre is particularly acute given the extensive cocaine trade in the country and the massive flows from oil that are expected in the near future”, says the report. Large oilfields were recently discovered off Ghana’s coast.If the Ghanaian government is committed to the IFSC becoming fully operational, the report argues that it should first produce and disseminate credible, well-researched evidence about the potential benefits and risks for Ghana.In addition, officials working in the Central Bank, Registrar General and tax agencies should be extremely well versed in the relevant laws and should work closely together to minimize the risks.Furthermore, the government should introduce special methods to monitor inflows of funds from regional oil producing states, potentially in conjunction with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, because such funds are of notoriously questionable origin.The report goes on to warn that unless Ghana co-operates in the global fight against financial crime, it is at risk of being added to the tax haven blacklist set up recently by the Organization for Co-Operation and Development.The report estimates that Ghana currently loses around half of the corporate tax revenues it is due each year to tax dodging by multinational companies. A major part of the problem, it says, is that most tax officials lack a thorough understanding of companies’ complex tax avoidance schemes.Mining companies are highlighted as a particular problem, in that they impose major environmental costs but contribute very little to Ghana’s tax revenues, despite their large profits in recent years.Another problem highlighted by the report is the failure of Ghana’s tax collection agencies publicly to disclose (and even, perhaps, to evaluate) the effects of the generous tax incentives the country offers foreign investors.“The creation of the IFSC is another landmark achievement in developing Ghana's financial services sector and Barclays is proud to have been able to partner with the Ghanaian government in this initiative. We adhere to the highest and most stringent levels of international regulation, rules and industry guidance for the financial services sector.”The report is available at:



Catholic Herald reports that organisers of a climate change fair in north London have been told that they are not allowed to advertise in council buildings because of the religious nature of their posters.The group organising the Green Fair for the Feast of St Francis at Our Lady Help of Christians in Kentish Town was told it could not advertise in community centres and libraries belonging to the council because it had a policy of not promoting anything religious. They were told that they would be able to display the posters if they removed the words "Christian", "Blessing" and "God" from posters which advertise the fair, scheduled to take place on October 2. Last year, according to Josephine Siedlecka, one of the fair's organisers, they were allowed to put up posters advertising the event. A number of local councillors took part, as did the local MP Frank Dobson, and it was a community event. The environmental fair took place in the church hall, and was attended by Christians and non-Christians alike. She said:"We were very disappointed when the libraries and the council said they wouldn't put our posters up."This year the organisers had become more ambitious. Mark Dowd, the BBC presenter who works with Operation Noah - a Christian environmental group which focuses on climate change - is scheduled to give a talk entitled "Climate Change: is God trying to tell us something?".Ellen Teague, a Christian environmental campaigner, is scheduled to speak at the parish's evening Masses on Saturday and during Mass on Sunday. For the Feast of St Francis itself, the group is planning a pet blessing in the garden of the church, and in the church hall in inclement weather. The animal blessing in the afternoon is supported by the RSPCA, a local animal hospital and other animal rights groups. Leaflets and booklets will be handed out at the event. The children's choir of St Patrick's school is also scheduled to sing at the event.Another member of the parish's climate change team, Julia Forsythe, said she had not been there when others had been told they couldn't post the flyers advertising the fair, but she said she felt they should have been allowed to put them up.She said: "It's going to be a good and lovely event. St Francis is a saint for everyone. He loved peace and animals and I think that he speaks to children and adults regardless of their faith. "I don't honestly think the posters were over-emphasising Catholicism, rather they were placing emphasis on goodness and virtue in society: good things like blessings. I'm sure that other religions wouldn't mind the idea of a blessing, because I know they have them too."She also said she hoped that the council decided to review its decision and that its members changed their minds.The group, which is called Climate Change is a Christian issue, consists of half a dozen members and exists to raise awareness of climate change both in the parish and the wider community. According to Bernadine Bishop, another member, the group has existed for four years and it has arranged functions and meetings in order to bring the issues to the fore. Events have included screening Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth and the green fair last year.She said: "No one made a fuss about last year's fair. I don't know what's changed. Maybe it's the phrasing of the posters. One poster includes the word 'God' because it's the title of the talk, the other has the name of our group, so it bears the word 'Christian', and the third advertises the pet 'blessing' for the children. And it's all those words which seem to have upset sensibilities. We could never have foretold that that would upset sensibilities. Really, I am somewhat dismayed and bewildered as to why they are objecting to our posters. We are not trying to monopolise climate change. Climate change is for everyone but we just feel that it hasn't been brought forward enough as a Christian issue. It is, of course, an issue for the entire human race."Camden Council issued a statement which said: "We are very happy to help promote community events that are open to everyone on our notice boards. "However, we are not able to accept posters that promote particular religious beliefs or political points of view." (Source:


UCAN reports that Jungle, rivers and mountains thwart travel in this eastern tail of the Himalayas, making it more than a challenge for priests to keep in contact with remote parishioners, let alone visit them.

Catholic Naga villagers of Shingbwi Yang parish
Communications and travel have not improved greatly in Kachin state since combined American and Chinese forces drove the Japanese army from Myitkyina, the capital, almost 65 years ago as the tide turned in World War II.
This northernmost area of Myanmar remains frontier, a place where motorcycles and boats can take travelers only so far before feet become the only means of transportation.
Father Paul Nbau Zau Lat, an ethnic Kachin born in Putao, is one of 34 Catholic priests working in Myitkyina diocese. He is based in Shingbwi Yang parish, about 250 kilometers northwest of Myitkyina and not far from the border with India.
It can take the 44-year-old parish priest a month to reach some of the more remote villages among the 22 in his care, many of which he visits only once a year. But even though he can administer sacraments and provide pastoral care only at long intervals, he says, these parishioners maintain a deep faith.
"Some villagers hear the Good News of Christ and get general information only when the parish priest comes," Father Zau Lat told UCA News.
Shingbwi Yang parishioners number more than 1,000 in 500 households. The majority are Naga people and the rest Kachin, except for a few Burman. They mostly live by fishing and hunting, although some work on plantations.
The Naga hills region, home to the Naga tribe, extends into India and is one of the parish's most inaccessible areas, but Father Zau Lat sees it as his duty to reach them. He also believes in "offering (his) daily priestly life" as a prayer for the success of the Church's mission.
The priest, who teaches tribal children at a Church-run boarding school, sees education as another crucial element in that mission. Accordingly, he plans to send five teachers to live and teach in places with the greatest need.
Health care also suffers from the lack of transportation and communications in remote areas, where serious diseases present a threat. Father Zau Lat responds by trying to get malaria and tuberculosis medicine from NGOs to support to his far-flung villagers.
Father John Kumbu La Seng, 29, from Myitkyina, faces similar challenges as parish priest in Putao, Father Zau Lat's home parish, more than 350 kilometers north of Myitkyina.
Also an ethnic Kachin, he can make pastoral visits to the most remote villages only in December and January, when the weather is good enough for him to travel.

A Myitkyina diocese priest and hisgroup en route to visit parishioners
Among the people he tries to reach during these coldest months of the year are the roughly 100 households of Catholics living near the ice-capped mountains close to the Chinese border. These members of the Lisu and Rawon hilltribes work on plantations there.
The priest has 47 catechists who help him serve about 3,000 parishioners in 600 households. Members of Assemblies of God and Baptist congregations also live in the 30 villages the parish covers. Most of the people are farmers and a few run small grocery stores.
Father La Seng described the people out in the villages as uneducated and shy to speak with others. But he said they try to live their faith firmly despite a tough life that for most is a cycle of debt, using one year's produce to pay off the previous year's bills. They also face food shortages annually, especially in the rainy season.
"It's tiresome to work in the hilly mission, full of hardship and trials, but it's also a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to give baptism, listen to confession and distribute Communion," Father La Seng remarked.
"Knowing the difficulties and weakness of the villagers, we need to upgrade the children's educational qualifications in order to get more vocations, because we still need more priests in our diocese," he added.
Bishop Francis Daw Tang of Myitkyina told UCA News that "with Catholics' tithes and support from the some generous donors, the Church will be able to support all the struggling villagers, and in the future the parishioners will try to work for themselves."
The bishop nonetheless acknowledges that conditions are tough, and he said he encourages his priests to go to other parishes as pilgrims in order to renew their spiritual strength. He added that the diocese plans to conduct training and a pilgrimage program for its priests.



CathNews reports that a Happy Healthy Parenting Expo held at the Civic Centre in Gympie on Saturday, aimed at building relationships, gathered organisations such as St Vincent de Paul Welfare Assistance and Relationships Australia under one roof.
All assistance and service providers were represented at the expo organised to coincide with Child Protection Week, including Family Hub, Lifeline, Atods, Laurel Place, as well as MINS, Queensland Health and CentreLink, The Gympie Times reported.
"People I did get to talk to were carrying around paper bags filled with all different brochures from the service providers in the Gympie community, and that's what the day what was about - to provide the information to families who attended," Renee Harris from St Vincent de Paul Society said.
"It was an idea for Child Protection Week.
"We wanted to do something different, do something positive and focus on prevention."

St. Januarius
Feast: September 19
Feast Day:
September 19
275, Benevento or Naples, Campania, Roman Empire
305, Pozzuoli, Campania
Major Shrine:
Cathedral of San Gennaro, Naples, Italy
Patron of:
blood banks; Naples; volcanic eruptions

St. Januarius is believed to have suffered in the persecution of Diocletian, c. 305. With regard to the history of his life and martyrdom, we know next to nothing. The various collections of "Acts", though numerous (cf. Bibliotheca Hagiographica Latina, n. 4115-4140), are all extremely late and untrustworthy. Bede (c. 733) in his "Martyrologium" has epitomized the so-called "Acta Bononiensia" (see Quentin, "Les Martyrologes historiques", 76). To this source we may trace the following entry in the present Roman Martyrology, though the reference to the miracle of the liquefaction is an addition of much later date. "At Pozzuoli in Campania [the memory] of the holy martyrs Januarius, Bishop of Beneventum, Festus his deacon, and Desiderius lector, together with Socius deacon of the church of Misenas, Proculus deacon of Pozzuoli, Eutyches and Acutius, who after chains and imprisonment were beheaded under the Emperor Diocletian. The body of St. Januarius was brought to Naples, and there honourably interred in the church, where his holy blood is kept unto this day in a phial of glass, which being set near his head becomes liquid and bubbles up as though it were fresh." (SOURCE:


I think the world today is upside down. Everybody seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches and so on. There is much suffering because there is so very little love in homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world. Mother Teresa


Luke 8: 4 - 15
And when a great crowd came together and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable:
"A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell along the path, and was trodden under foot, and the birds of the air devoured it.
And some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.
And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
And some fell into good soil and grew, and yielded a hundredfold." As he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant,
he said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved.
And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.

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