Saturday, April 17, 2010




Dear friends, good evening! Let us hope we have a good journey, without this dark cloud that is hanging over part of Europe.

So why this trip to Malta? The reasons are manifold.
The first is St. Paul. The Pauline Year of the universal Church is over, but Malta is celebrating 1950 years since the shipwreck and this is my opportunity to once again bring to light the great figure of the Apostle to the Gentiles, with his important message even [for] today. I think we can summarize the essence of his journey with the words with which he himself summarised it at the end of the letter to the Galatians: Faith working through love.
These are the important things today: faith, the relationship with God, which then turns into love. But I also think that the reason for the shipwreck speaks for us. Malta’s fortune to have faith was born from the wreck; so we can think the same, that life’s shipwrecks can be part of God’s plan for us and they may also be useful for new beginnings in our lives.
The second reason: I am glad to live in the midst of lively church, which the Church in Malta is. Even today it is fruitful in vocations, full of faith in the midst of our time, responding to the challenges of our time. I know that Malta loves Christ and loves his Church which is his body and knows that, even if this body is wounded by our sins, God loves this church and its gospel is the true force that purifies and heals.
Third point: Malta is the point where the currents of refugees from Africa arrive and knock at Europe’s door. This is a great problem of our time, and, of course, can not be resolved by the island of Malta. We must all respond to this challenge, work so that everyone can, live a dignified life in their homeland and on the other hand do everything possible so that these refugees find here, where they arrive, that they find a decent living space. A response to a great challenge of our time: Malta reminds us of these problems and also reminds us that their faith is the force that gives charity, and thus also the imagination to respond well to these challenges. Thank you

Mr President,
Dear Brother Bishops,
Distinguished Authorities,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Jien kuntent ħafna li ninsab fostkom!
It gives me great joy to be here in Malta with you today. I come among you as a pilgrim to worship the Lord and to praise him for the wonders he has worked here. I come also as the Successor of Saint Peter to confirm you in the faith (cf. Lk 22:32) and to join you in prayer to the one living and true God, in the company of all the Saints, including the great Apostle of Malta, Saint Paul. Though my visit to your country is short, I pray that it will bear much fruit.

I am grateful, Mr President, for the kind words with which you have greeted me in your own name and on behalf of the Maltese people. I thank you for your invitation and for the hard work that you and the Government have done in order to prepare for my visit. I thank the Prime Minister, the civil and military authorities, the members of the Diplomatic Corps and everyone present, for honouring this occasion by your presence and for your cordial welcome.
I greet in a special way Archbishop Paul Cremona, Bishop Mario Grech and Auxiliary Bishop Annetto Depasquale, as well as the other Bishops present. In greeting you, I wish to express my affection for the priests, deacons, men and women Religious and all the lay faithful entrusted to your pastoral care.
The occasion of my visit to these islands is the nineteen hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Saint Paul’s shipwreck off the island of Malta. Saint Luke describes this event in the Acts of the Apostles, and it is from his account that you have chosen the theme of this visit: “Jeħtieg iżda li naslu fi gżira” (Acts 27:26). Some might consider Saint Paul’s arrival in Malta by means of a humanly unforeseen event to be a mere accident of history. The eyes of faith, however, enable us to recognize here the workings of divine Providence.
Malta, in fact, has been at the crossroads of many of the great events and cultural exchanges in European and Mediterranean history, right up to our own times. These islands have played a key role in the political, religious and cultural development of Europe, the Near East, and North Africa. To these shores, then, in the mysterious designs of God, the Gospel was brought by Saint Paul and the early followers of Christ. Their missionary work has borne much fruit over the centuries, contributing in innumerable ways to shaping Malta’s rich and noble culture.
On account of their geographical position, these islands have been of great strategic importance on more than one occasion, even in recent times: indeed, the George Cross upon your national flag proudly testifies to your people’s great courage during the dark days of the last world war. Likewise, the fortifications that feature so prominently in the island’s architecture speak of earlier struggles, when Malta contributed so much to the defence of Christianity by land and by sea. You continue to play a valuable role in the ongoing debates on European identity, culture and policy. At the same time, I am pleased to note your Government’s commitment to humanitarian projects further afield, especially in Africa. It is greatly to be hoped that this will serve to promote the welfare of those less fortunate than yourselves, as an expression of genuine Christian charity.
Indeed, Malta has much to contribute to questions as diverse as tolerance, reciprocity, immigration, and other issues crucial to the future of this continent. Your Nation should continue to stand up for the indissolubility of marriage as a natural institution as well as a sacramental one, and for the true nature of the family, just as it does for the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death and for the proper respect owed to religious freedom in ways that bring authentic integral development to individuals and society.
Malta also has close links to the near East, not only in cultural and religious terms, but even linguistically. Allow me to encourage you to put this ensemble of skills and strengths to ever greater use so as to serve as a bridge of understanding between the peoples, cultures and religions which surround the Mediterranean. Much has still to be done to build relationships of genuine trust and fruitful dialogue, and Malta is well placed to hold out the hand of friendship to her neighbours to north and south, to east and west.

The Maltese people, enlightened for almost two millennia by the teachings of the Gospel and continually fortified by their Christian roots, are rightly proud of the indispensable role that the Catholic faith has played in their nation’s development. The beauty of our faith is expressed in various and complementary ways here, not least in the lives of holiness which have led Maltese to give of themselves for the good of others. Among these we must include Dun Ġorġ Preca, whom I was pleased to canonize just three years ago (3 June, 2007). I invite all of you to invoke his intercession for the spiritual fruitfulness of this, my first pastoral visit among you.
I look forward to praying with you during my time in Malta and I wish, as a father and as a brother, to assure you of my affection for you and my eagerness to share this time with you in faith and friendship. With these thoughts, I entrust all of you to the protection of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu and your father in the faith, the great Apostle Paul.
I-Mulej ibierek lill-poplu kollu ta’ Malta u ta’ Għawdex!


Dear Archbishop Cremona,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My pilgrimage to Malta has begun with a moment of silent prayer at the Grotto of Saint Paul, who first brought the faith to these islands. I have come in the footsteps of those countless pilgrims down the centuries who have prayed in this holy place, entrusting themselves, their families and the welfare of this nation to the intercession of the Apostle of the Gentiles. I rejoice to be at last in your midst and I greet all of you with great affection in the Lord!
Paul’s shipwreck and his three-month stay in Malta left an indelible mark upon the history of your country. His words to his companions prior to his arrival in Malta are recorded for us in the Acts of the Apostles and have been a special theme in your preparation for my visit. Those words – “Jeħtieg iżda li naslu fi gżira” – in their original context are a summons to courage in the face of the unknown and to unfailing confidence in God’s mysterious providence. The castaways were, in fact, warmly welcomed by the Maltese people, following the lead given by Saint Publius. In God’s plan, Saint Paul thus became your father in the Christian faith. Thanks to his presence among you, the Gospel of Jesus Christ took deep root and bore fruit not only in the lives of individuals, families and communities, but also in the formation of Malta’s national identity and its vibrant and distinctive culture.

Paul’s apostolic labours also bore a rich harvest in the generations of preachers who followed in his footsteps, and particularly in the great number of priests and religious who imitated his missionary zeal by leaving Malta in order to bring the Gospel to distant shores. I am happy to have had the opportunity to meet so many of them today in this Church of Saint Paul, and to encourage them in their challenging and often heroic vocation. Dear missionaries: I thank all of you, in the name of the whole Church, for your witness to the Risen Lord and for your lives spent in the service of others. Your presence and activity in so many countries of the world brings honour to your country and testifies to an evangelical impulse deeply embedded in the Church in Malta. Let us ask the Lord to raise up many more men and women to carry forward the noble mission of proclaiming the Gospel and working for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom in every land and people!

Saint Paul’s arrival in Malta was not planned. As we know, he was travelling to Rome when a violent storm arose and his ship ran aground on this island. Sailors can map a journey, but God, in his wisdom and providence, charts a course of his own. Paul, who dramatically encountered the Risen Lord while on the road to Damascus, knew this well. The course of his life was suddenly changed; henceforth, for him, to live was Christ (cf. Phil 1:21); his every thought and action was directed to proclaiming the mystery of the Cross and its message of God’s reconciling love.

That same word, the word of the Gospel, still has the power to break into our lives and to change their course. Today the same Gospel which Paul preached continues to summon the people of these islands to conversion, new life and a future of hope. Standing in your midst as the Successor of the Apostle Peter, I invite you to hear God’s word afresh, as your ancestors did, and to let it challenge your ways of thinking and the way you live your lives.

From this holy place where the apostolic preaching first spread throughout these islands, I call upon each of you to take up the exciting challenge of the new evangelization. Live out your faith ever more fully with the members of your families, with your friends, in your neighbourhoods, in the workplace and in the whole fabric of Maltese society. In a particular way I urge parents, teachers and catechists to speak of your own living encounter with the Risen Jesus to others, especially the young people who are Malta’s future. “Faith is strengthened when it is given to others!” (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 2). Believe that your moments of faith assure an encounter with God, who in his mighty power touches human hearts. In this way, you will introduce the young to the beauty and richness of the Catholic faith, and offer them a sound catechesis, inviting them to ever more active participation in the sacramental life of the Church.

The world needs this witness! In the face of so many threats to the sacredness of human life, and to the dignity of marriage and the family, do not our contemporaries need to be constantly reminded of the grandeur of our dignity as God’s children and the sublime vocation we have received in Christ? Does not society need to reappropriate and defend those fundamental moral truths which remain the foundation of authentic freedom and genuine progress?

Just now, as I stood before this Grotto, I reflected on the great spiritual gift (cf. Rom 1:11) which Paul gave to Malta, and I prayed that you might keep unblemished the heritage bequeathed to you by the great Apostle. May the Lord confirm you and your families in the faith which works through love (cf. Gal 5:6), and make you joyful witnesses to the hope which never disappoints (cf. Rom 5:5). Christ is risen! He is truly risen! Alleluia!



After the welcoming ceremony Pope Benedict XVI, travelled to the capital Valetta. The pope mobile was escorted by a police motorcade through crowded streets to the Presidential Palace, where he paid a traditional courtesy call with state authorities.
There he exchanged gifts with the President, receiving a hand crafted silver statue of Christ the King and bestowing on the people of Malta a mosaic depicting St Paul’s Shipwreck after a fresco in the Apostolic Palace.
To the joy of the thousands of children who had waited for hours beneath the balcony of the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Pope appeared for a few moments, enough for them to sing ‘Happy Birthday’, marking the Pope’s 83rd birthday on April 16 th last.


Asia News report: Fifteen years after the martyrdom of the religious, murdered for her commitment to the poor and for her Christian faith, the priest who oversaw the diocesan investigation tells AsiaNews life about her life and her work. The conversion of her murderer, a Hindu farmer, due to her intercession.

Udaya Nagar (AsiaNews) - Sister Rani Maria, who, fifteen years ago became a martyr for the faith that led her to always help the poorest of the poor, "encourages us to move forward. Her example of life and death are a stimulus for us who are still her today, we have a powerful intercessor before the Lord".
This is what Fr Cherian, spokesman for the Diocese of Indore and director of the local society for social services who accompanied the religious in her humanitarian work and who oversaw the collection of documents for her beatification, tells AsiaNews. The diocesan inquiry on the life and works of the religious was completed two years ago. The results are now been studied by the Vatican. The priest today presents his testimony on the life of the religious.
Sister Rani Maria While working for the people and for the Lord-she sacrificed her life. Like Jesus, she died on the Cross -while she was faithfully and selflessly carrying her work among the people among the people. Sr Rani Maria’s life and her death has become an inspiration and hope for us- to continue to do good, to work and serve the people even at the cost of ones life- to be another Christ and this has brought graces for us.
The priests of Indore Diocese have a powerful intercessor and this year is a grace filled year as it is the Year for priests. While I was deeply pained by her murder, we are sure Sr Rani Maria is alive in heaven, interceding for us to continue working to establish the Kingdom of justice, peace and truth.
Throughout her life, Sister Rani Maria worked tirelessly to help the villagers - mostly poor tribal - to establish self-help groups by obtaining financial credit and other forms of economic support. She made sure that they were granted to the villages in order to improve the welfare and earning potential. She worked tirelessly to help this often oppressed sector of society.
At the same time, she always ensured that these movements were popular in nature, without external influences: she preferred to act as a catalyst of humble people. In this she strengthened the panchayats (village councils) urging them to consider and be aware of their rights and their responsibilities, providing assistance through planned and systematic development programs.
In December 1994, in the run up to the village council elections, a fight broke out between Catholic tribal families( Barela sub-caste) and a right wing candidate. Police arrested some of the Catholics and Sr. Rani hired a lawyer and had them released. This created a lot of hostility and a false impression that Sr Rani Maria was instigating people against them.
Left to themselves, the tribal would not be so emboldened as to stand up to any pressure from a powerful political force or even engage the services of a lawyer to fight their legal battle. On February 25, 1995, a farmer was who was hired to kill Sr Rani Maria, entered the bus in which Sr Rani Maria was traveling, and stabbed Sr. Rani her repeatedly. The bus stopped, and the people left out of fear. Then, he dragged Sr. Rani outside the bus and continued stabbing her until she died.
After serving a ten year prison term this man was released and now this man is undergoing a complete transformation of heart, he expresses deep sorrow and remorse for his deeds and proclaims on public platforms Christ and His forgiveness, and he owes his conversion of heart to Sr Rani Maria.
Sr Rani Maria continues to help us, and especially in moments of crises, her life and also her death are an encouragement to us to persevere. I know, left to ourselves, we are not strong, but we are given Strength and heavenly blessings by the Lord, by her constant intercession.,-martyr-of-the-faith:-the-conversion-of-her-assassin-18166.html


All Africa report: The Catholic Church has opposed the draft constitution in its current form and said there is still time to make amendments on contentious issues.

It has therefore appealed to President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to initiate steps to amend the clauses on abortion and Kadhis' courts.Their message was delivered by the chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference Cardinal John Njue after a four-day meeting of the Episcopal Conference- the decision making organ of the Catholic Church- at the St Mary's Pastoral Centre in Molo Friday.
"If this article (abortion) is maintained in the proposed draft constitution as it is we will be compelled based on moral grounds to advice the people of Kenya to say No," said Cardinal Njue in a statement read on behalf of 25 bishops from all over the country.
He added that he will invite all Catholic faithful to pray over the matter in due course.
"All Catholics will hold a prayer day in defence of human life. The date, manner and content for this prayer day will be communicated at a later date."
The Church objects to the section of Article 26 which empowers doctors to end a pregnancy only if it endangers the woman's life or she needs emergency treatment.
"Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger , or if permitted by any other law."
Christian leaders are also opposed to the retention of kadhis' courts in the proposed Constitution under Article 169 and 170, which limit their authority to disputes over personal status, marriage, divorce or inheritance, where all the parties are Muslims and agree to take the case to a Kadhi.
However, proponents of the draft say that are adequate provisions in the document prohibiting abortion and allows it only when a mother's life is threatened by a pregnancy.
On the courts, the say that they have been in place since the independence constitution and only apply to personal status where both parties are Muslims.

Catholic Herald report: Edward Pentin talks to the Spanish cardinal who oversees the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship
I hadn't been talking long with Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera before he fired a broadside both at Spain's secularist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and Barack Obama.
"Zapatero is intelligent but he and the government have the same dominant theology: man without God," he said in a quiet and gentle voice.
"Obama is like Zapatero," he added, pointing out that the two leaders view freedom as "absolute for everyone" and place it "before human rights". Their vision means "doing whatever you want, deciding whatever you want - it rules out care for others, God, the law," he said.
Such strong criticisms aren't surprising. As Archbishop of Toledo, until his appointment as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship last year, Cardinal Cañizares was an outspoken critic of Zapatero and his socialist government - an administration which has pushed through a raft of socially liberal policies from the introduction of same-sex marriage to the relaxation of abortion and divorce laws.
A couple of years ago the 64-year-old prelate scolded the government for "shaking the foundations of the family with its wicked and unjust laws", and in July last year he said his nation's policies were "being used today to eliminate those who are weak, innocent and defenceless". He has been particularly strong in speaking out against abortion, stressing that 47 million legal abortions take place each year, according to the World Health Organisation, and calling the scourge "unprecedented in the history of humanity".
We met in a rather bare room, furnished with a few books and a large crucifix, adjoining his offices overlooking St Peter's Square. Small in stature and with a ready smile, Cardinal Cañizares has been nicknamed the "Little Ratzinger" in the past because he holds similar views to the Pope. He also looks a little like him and has the same kind and innocent disposition.
Following his criticism of Zapatero and Obama I asked him what he considered the best remedy for overcoming the "culture of death" mentality. Catholics, he said, must work in the field of culture and evangelise it, as John Paul II often exhorted.
"To evangelise the culture means having one's gaze fixed on Christ because a man who accepts Christ - who is truly man - will have Christ's mentality, thoughts, and feelings," he said.
"[To build] a civilisation of love, as John Paul II and Benedict XVI have called for, seems to be a work of evangelisation because in such a society, God really is recognized as God. The problem of our times is a culture built without God."
He said the Church in Spain was doing this by working in the fields of education and social communications and noted that 30 per cent of the country's schools are Church-run.
"It's not just a question of changing laws, although that's necessary," he argued. "We must also change the mentality because the dominant mentality is not a Christian one - we must have a mentality of the Gospel."
He dismissed the idea that the Church-state relationship in Spain was unique in the sense that widespread resentment of the Church has lingered since the Civil War and Franco.
"That influenced a little, but today it doesn't," he said. "That was a time in the past one can't hide, but in reality it's now just part of the Church's history." He stressed that the roots and identity of Spain are Christian.
He illustrated this by offering a robust defence of his nation's Christian history - and at the same time criticised the Spanish government's attempts to weaken religious education in schools.
"Spain was born out of the Third Council of Toledo in the seventh century - Christianity began in Spain at that moment," he explained. "Afterwards, Spain was lost to the Muslims, and in the Middle Ages there were battles to recover the lost Spain. This is a unique story in the history of humanity. All this history is in reality inseparable from our Christian heritage, and if this is not taught in schools it goes against the real identity of the country. These Christian roots are very historical and deep, and for this reason there's much hope of a revival in the near future."
When it comes to re-evangelising the West in general he pointed to the example of St Benedict of Norcia and his search for God and imitation of Christ. But changing the mentality, he said, includes measures such as "renewing the liturgy", reintroducing a "correct sense of freedom" and presenting "a true and stronger" sense of religiosity.
Being of similar mind to Benedict XVI he naturally has the same approach to the liturgy which he sees not only as important for the Church, but also for the world at large.
"Benedict XVI reminds us that the first document of the Second Vatican Council was Sacrosanctum Concilium [the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy], and the last document was Gaudium et Spes, [the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World]." he said.
"If we want to be present as Christians in the world, to form and renew the world, to bring peace, freedom et cetera, we cannot do that without leaning on the liturgy, on Sacrosanctum Concilium. For this reason, the Holy Father is very committed to renew the liturgy, to recover Sacrosanctum Concilium."
One of his dicastery's recent achievements has been to produce a compendium on the Eucharist which summarises the principal teachings of the Church on the Blessed Sacrament, sets out liturgical texts, and contains prayers and hymns.
"There are no new positions taken," he said. "It's simply a compendium of what already exists. It doesn't go into rites and things, just the most important doctrinal points related to the Blessed Sacrament."
But the publication will doubtless further help his passionately held belief that matters liturgical are vitally important to a world in moral crisis.
"The liturgy is the first banquet of God; it's where we can identify God, it's prayer, it's where we can discover salvation, the work of Grace - all of which are God's initiative," he said. "When this is lived, when it is at the centre of one's life, the heart changes, the mentality changes, and also society."
Probably wisely, the cardinal refrained from answering some of my more controversial questions about his dicastery's work. But did he think the Pope will write an encyclical or apostolic letter on the liturgy?
"I've never spoken about this to the Holy Father but 2013 will mark the 50th anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium. That would be a good moment, don't you think?" he asked with a grin, before quickly adding: "But I've never spoken about this with him and I don't know if he's thinking about it."
He said the Pope's Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, Sacramentum Caritatis, is practically "an encyclical on the liturgy".
"Thanks be to God the Church has many good and extraordinary reflections from this Holy Father," he said. "He has been great as a theologian, as a professor, as a bishop, as a cardinal, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and also as a Pope."


WASHINGTON—The vast majority (92 percent) of men being ordained to the priesthood report some kind of full-time work experience prior to entering the seminary, most often in education. Three in five (60 percent) ordinands completed college before pursuing the priesthood, with one in five (20 percent) also receiving a graduate degree. One in three (34 percent) entered the seminary while in college.
The median age of ordinands is 33. The youngest member of the Class of 2010 is 25; 11 men are being ordained at the age of 65 or older. On average, men were 18 when they first considered their vocation.
This analysis is part of The Class of 2010: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood, an annual national survey of men being ordained priests, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), a Georgetown University-based research center. The entire report can be found at, as well as on the new which is set to launch on April 25, Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The survey was commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“One important trend evident in this study is the importance of lifelong formation and engagement in the Catholic faith,” said Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. He noted that, along with their education and work experience, half to three-quarters of the Class of 2010 report they served as an altar server, lector, Eucharistic minister or other parish ministry.
“Most ordinands have been Catholic since birth,” said Cardinal O’Malley, “Four in five report that both their parents are Catholic. Almost eight in 10 were encouraged to consider the priesthood by a priest. This speaks to the essential role the whole Church has to play in fostering vocations.”
The survey had a response rate of approximately 77 percent of the 440 potential ordinands reported by theologates, houses of formation, dioceses, and religious institutes. They included 291 men being ordained for dioceses and 48 for religious orders, such as the Jesuits, Dominicans and Franciscans.
In other findings, CARA reported:
Close to two in five (37 percent) have a relative who is a priest or religious.
Two thirds report regularly praying the rosary (67 percent) and participating in Eucharistic Adoration (65 percent) before entering seminary.
More than half of ordinands (55 percent) report having more than two siblings, while one-quarter (24 percent) report having five or more siblings. Two in five (38 percent) are the oldest child in their family.

Seven in 10 report their primary race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white (70 percent). Compared to the adult Catholic population of the United States, ordinands were more likely to be Asian or Pacific Islander (10 percent of responding ordinands), but less likely to be Hispanic/Latino (13 percent). Compared to diocesan ordinands, religious ordinands are less likely to report their race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white.

Nearly one-third (31 percent) of the ordination class of 2010 was born outside the United States, the largest numbers coming from Mexico, Colombia, the Philippines, Poland and Vietnam. Between 20 and 30 percent of ordinands to the diocesan priesthood for each of the last 10 years were born outside the United States.

Eight in 10 (85 percent) report they have seen the “Fishers of Men” DVD published by the USCCB.


Cath News report: The restoration of the grand old lady of Lismore architecture, St Carthage's Cathedral, is breaking new ground in work safety practices in the Northern Rivers region of NSW.

Melanoma expert Dr Richard Harrison joined members of the St Carthage's Project Safety Team and other building project managers on a tour to the top of the stunning structure to view its progress yesterday afternoon, before conducting a presentation on the dangers of working in the sun, the Northern Star reports.
Lismore Catholic Diocesan business manager Greg Isaac said the diocese decided early on in the project to work closely with WorkCover throughout the restoration of the century-old building.
"Instead of responding in a reactive way to WorkCover's policies and regulations, we invited WorkCover to be on our Project Safety Team for St Carthage's Cathedral, ensuring we are working with them in a proactive manner all the way through the project," he said.
Also in regional NSW, a group of priests fighting plans to dissolve the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese have started circulating a petition.
The ABC says proposal to change the diocese has come about because of a diminishing population in western New South Wales and the vast area that needs to be covered by a small number of priests.
Broken Hill priest Father Sunny told the local ABC that parishioners are supportive of the petition and have been working to bring more people into the church to prevent the change.
"Parishioners are looking for keeping it as it is, the Wilcannia-Forbes diocese as it is, so they are collecting signatures and they are getting more support from the people, so they are trying to get more in the church and more activities," he said.
The future of the diocese will be discussed at the Australian Bishops Conference in June.


St. Stephen Harding

Feast: April 17
Information: Feast Day: April 17
Born: Dorset, England
Died: 28 March 1134
Major Shrine: Church of St. Stephen Harding in Apátistvánfalva, Hungary, district of Szentgotthárd.
Confessor, the third Abbot of Citeaux, was born at Sherborne in Dorsetshire, England, about the middle of the eleventh century; died 28 March, 1134. He received his early education in the monastery of Sherborne and afterwards studied in Paris and Rome. On returning from the latter city he stopped at the monastery of Molesme and, being much impressed by the holiness of St. Robert, the abbot, joined that community. Here he practised great austerities, became one of St. Robert's chief supporters and was one of the band of twenty-one monks who, by authority of Hugh, Archbishop of Lyons, retired to Citeaux to institute a reform in the new foundation there. When St. Robert was recalled to Molesme (1099), Stephen became prior of Citeaux under Alberic, the new abbot. On Alberic's death (1110) Stephen, who was absent from the monastery at the time, was elected abbot. The number of monks was now very reduced, as no new members had come to fill the places of those who had died. Stephen, however, insisted on retaining the strict observance originally instituted and, having offended the Duke of Burgundy, Citeau's great patron, by forbidding him or his family to enter the cloister, was even forced to beg alms from door to door. It seemed as if the foundation were doomed to die out when (1112) St. Bernard with thirty companions joined the community. This proved the beginning of extraordinary prosperity. The next year Stephen founded his first colony at La Ferte, and before is death he had established thirteen monasteries in all. His powers as an organizer were exceptional, he instituted the system of general chapters and regular visitations and, to ensure uniformity in all his foundations, drew up the famous "Charter of Charity" or collection of statues for the government of all monasteries united to Citeaux, which was approved by Pope Callistus II in 1119 (see CISTERCIANS). In 1133 Stephen, being now old, infirm, and almost blind, resigned the post of abbot, designating as his successor Robert de Monte, who was accordingly elected by the monks. The saint's choice, however, proved unfortunate and the new abbot only held office for two years. Stephen was buried in the tomb of Alberic, his predecessor, in the cloister of Citeaux. In the Roman calendar his feast is 17 April, but the Cistercians themselves keep it on 15 July, with an octave, regarding him as the true founder of the order. Besides the "Carta Caritatis" he is commonly credited with the authorship of the "Exordium Cisterciencis cenobii", which however may not be his. Two of his sermons are preserved and also two letters (Nos. 45 and 49) in the "Epp. S. Bernardi".


John 6: 16 - 21
16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,
17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Caper'na-um. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
18 The sea rose because a strong wind was blowing.
19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat. They were frightened,
20 but he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."
21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.