The Holy Father Benedict XVI accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Spis (Slovakia), presented by Bishop Frantisek Tondra, in accordance with Can. 401 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law. (IMAGE: RADIO VATICANA)
The Pope has appointed Bishop of Spis (Slovakia) Archbishop Stefan Seck, now Titular Bishop of Sita and Auxiliary Bishop of Spis.
Archbishop Stefan Seck
Archbishop Stefan Seck was born July 6, 1953 at Spissky Štvrtok, in the diocese of Spis. After studying at the major seminary in Bratislava, June 6, 1976 he was ordained a priest for the diocese of Spis.
After ordination, he had to complete for two years military service.
From 1978 to 1980 he was Vicar Spisska Nova Ves and from 1980 to 1984 in Dolny Kubin. From 1984 to 1990 he was Chief Liptovské Revúca parish . In 1990 he was appointed Vice-Rector of the Major Seminary of Spis.
In 1997 he earned a licentiate in theology at the Catholic University of Lublin (Poland) in 2000 and his doctorate from the Theological Faculty of Comenius in Bratislava.
On 28 June 2002 he was appointed Titular Bishop of Sita and Auxiliary Bishop of Spis. He received his episcopal consecration on July 27 of that year.
Currently the diocese is Pro-President of the Liturgical Commission and a member of the Catechetical Commission. Within the Slovak Bishops' Conference is responsible for Caritas and a member of the National Liturgical Commission. Organize courses and catechesis dedicated to the pastoral care of the Roma.
A young priest in northern Hebei province was released back to his home town on July 23, nearly four months after being detained, Church sources said today.
Father Joseph Chen Hailong of Xuanhua, who has served in the Yanqin parish on the outskirts of Beijing since his ordination in 2009, was seized by plainclothes police on April 9.
In recent years, government officials in the Zhangjiakou area have cracked down on priests who are not affiliated with the government-sanctioned “open” Church structure.
Two young Catholics who were taken away at the same time as Father Chen were released two days later.
Authorities held Father Chen at a guesthouse to question him about the whereabouts of Bishop Thomas Zhao Kexun of Xuanhua, according to local Church sources.
Bishop Zhao, an “underground” prelate in his 80s who has headed the diocese since 2007, has been in hiding from the government.
Father Chen was held in isolation for nearly two months, during which time he suffered malnutrition, the sources said.
They added that the priest’s spirit nearly collapsed under the hardships of his detention. To dispel the loneliness and hunger, Father Chen drew the Holy Communion on the wall of his room in the guesthouse and adored the Blessed Sacrament.
In addition to questions about the whereabouts of Bishop Zhao, authorities also repeatedly urged Father Chen to accept the principle of an independent Church, to receive a “priest card” issued by the open Church and concelebrate Mass with other open priests.
Father Chen refused all the demands, the sources said, adding that he was later taken to meet a former underground bishop. This prelate, who received government recognition in recent years, tried in vain to persuade the priest to accept the officials’ demands, sources said.
Authorities finally released Father Chen on July 23.
Meanwhile, the whereabouts of three other priests from Xuanhua, namely Fathers Cui Tai, Yan Zongzhi and Zhang Jianlin, all of whom were taken away by authorities on June 22, remain unknown.
DEATH OF ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS- MOST REV. FRANCIS SPENCE
(CCCB – Ottawa)… It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of the Most Rev. Francis John Spence, Archbishop Emeritus of Kingston, on 27 July, 2011 at the age of 85 years old.
Archbishop Spence was born in Perth, Ontario, on 3 June, 1926. He was ordained a priest on 16 April, 1950 and a Bishop on 15 June, 1967. Archbishop Spence served as Auxiliary Bishop to the Military Vicar from 1967-1982, Bishop of Charlottetown from 1970-1982, and Ordinary for the Military Vicariate of Canada from 1982-1989. He was installed as Archbishop of Kingston on 30 June, 1982 and served until his retirement on 13 August, 2002. In addition to the many positions and responsibilities he has held at Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and the Holy See, Archbishop Spence was President of the CCCB from 1995-1997.
Archbishop Spence will lie in state at St. Mary’s Cathedral, 279 Johnson Street, in Kingston (Ontario), on Tuesday, August 2, 2011, from 1:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., with a Vigil Service at 7:00 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 3, 2011, at the Kingston Cathedral, with a reception to follow. Interment will take place on Thursday, August 4, 2011, at 11:00 a.m. at the family plot in Perth.
DEATH OF BISHOP OF TIMMINS- MOST REV. PAUL MARCHAND
Bishop Marchand, S.M.M., was born on April 17, 1937 in
Bishop Marchand was a highly talented preacher and had a very pastoral approach to his work. He occupied many functions in his Religious Congregation: he served as Provincial Superior and was a member of the Extraordinary General Council of Montfort Missionaries from 1990 to 1993.
Since his Episcopal ordination, Bishop Marchand assumed several responsibilities at the CCCB: he was President of the Episcopal Commission for Christian Education (French Sector) from 1997 to 2001, member of the Permanent Council from 2000 to 2005, and member of the Episcopal Commission for Social Communications (French Sector) from 2001 to 2008.
Bishop Marchand’s remains will lie in state at Saint Anthony Cathedral Parish Church on Thursday, July 28, 2011 from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Friday, July 29, 2011, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 (noon). The Funeral will follow at 12:00 noon with Metropolitan Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., presiding and Bishop Paul-André Durocher preaching.
If the most dramatic situation is in Somalia, Kenya also heavily suffers the food crisis, not only because it hosts on its territory hundreds of thousands of Somalis escaping from their Country, but also because the drought has affected several areas of its territory.
The message of the Episcopal Conference of Kenya states that the most vulnerable people are: the shepherds of the north, north-east, north-west and south, and the poorest families living on subsistence farming in the coastal plains and southeastern regions.
The drought, caused by very little rain in 2010 and, this year has caused, the Bishops recall, "food shortages, sharp rise in food prices, lack of water, migration and conflict, malnutrition, school dropout on behalf of children and loss of livestock".
The Episcopal Conference of Kenya has decided to launch an emergency fund (Catholic Charity Emergency Fund) and has launched a fund-raising in favor of this initiative. Food collections in parishes, diocesan offices and other structures of the Church have been organized. (L.M.)
Sydney Archdiocese REPORT-
4 Aug 2011
There were no wheelchairs in sight or other paraphernalia when a group of eight young pilgrims joined 16 others wearing Madrid World Youth Day's distinctive red T-shirts at the overseas departure terminal at Sydney airport last night and posed for photographs holding the Australian Flag.
What most other travellers at the overseas terminal last night probably didn't realise was that eight of the group of 24 World Youth Day (WYD) pilgrims has a physical or mental disability or that those travelling with them included volunteer carers who will accompany them on this once-in-a-lifetime journey. The carers themselves are also youthful pilgrims headed for World Youth Day (WYD) Madrid and include students at Australian Catholic University's School of Nursing with two members of the Sydney chapter of the Young Order of the Knights of Malta, Chris Cox and Camillus O'Kane acting as volunteer carers as well as team leaders.
For those with spina bifida, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy walking unaided can not only be difficult but extremely tiring. But last night not one of those with these particular conditions wanted to be photographed in their wheelchairs or to be defined by their disability. Nor did the young people with intellectual or mental disabilities such as schizophrenia or Down Syndrome which can sometimes also affect physical coordination.
Instead these young people were determined to be seen and accepted on their own terms. Certainly there will be times over the next four weeks when they will need their wheelchairs or extra help from their carers who volunteered to help them make this very special journey. But none want to be regarded as "disabled" and whatever their physical or mental condition, know that this does not define who they are, and has nothing to do with their spontaneous laughter, warmth, love of music and meeting other young people - or their love of Christ.
"Bridget is very excited to be going and this is a wonderful opportunity for her," Bridget Virgona's mother, Pam said.
Bridget has spina bifida and walking unaided is not easy. But last night, full of excitement, she was determined to be like everyone else.
For Pam and her husband Chris, farewelling Bridget 27 and seeing her take off on an overseas trip with people her own age, laughing and about to embark on a remarkable journey of faith, was a joyous and very special occasion.
"One of the lovely benefits of leaving the protection of the family home is the opportunity to be independent," says Pam pointing out "This doesn't happen often for people with a disability!"
Like most parents, she and Chris were initially concerned about sending their daughter off on her own without them to look after or care for her. But meeting Fr James McCarthy helped reassure them. Fr James was the one who came up with the idea of finding volunteer carers so young people from Sydney with disabilities could participate in this very special pilgrimage through Egypt and the Holy Land as well as the week's events at WYD11 in Madrid, and set about finding and training the volunteer carers from among the WYD pilgrims as well as the 12 young people with disabilities.
"After meeting with the nursing students as well as Camillus and Chris Cox we had complete confidence Bridget would be fine," says Pam and as she and Chris said their goodbyes to their daughter, she described the trip as a unique opportunity and a wonderfully positive experience for her. "We were told in the preparation meetings that on a pilgrimage like this you will learn a lot about yourself. I hope that happens for Bridget."
Other parents farewelling their child at Sydney Airport last night were John and his wife Margaret Talpin. Their son, 19 year old Michael on, Michael has Down Syndrome and they were thrilled he had been given the chance to travel overseas without them, and for the first time in his life, to be truly independent.
Michael, the youngest of four, has never let being born with Down Syndrome stop him from embracing life with typical enthusiasm, laughter and love. He is aware he has the condition, but nothing holds him back. Growing up in Cronulla, he was never off the beach and is a keen surfer, golfer, tennis player, swimmer and a keen competitor at the Special Olympics.
After attending Catholic primary and secondary mainstream schools, Michael sat for his HSC and now holds down a job with international recruitment firm, Manpower where he is an office assistant in charge of the mail, filing and similar duties.
In July 2008, Michael was among the throng of young people who carried and escorted the WYD Cross along the beach at Cronulla and according to his parents is hugely excited about attending WYD in Madrid.
"About eight weeks ago, we were approached to see if we were interested in Michael doing the trip," John Talpin says and admits at first that like Bridget Virgona's parents, he and Margaret were a little uneasy about sending their son, who has never spent a night away from his family.
"We were concerned about his wellbeing and safety but after meeting Fr James and the team leaders Camillus and Chris, and then the other carers as well as the doctor who is travelling with them, and realised how well organised and coordinated the trip was, and were completely reassured," he says.
Last night, just as the group was about to enter customs, Michael suddenly realised this really was "goodbye" and as he hugged his parents, he couldn't help a tear or two.
"Our family, relatives and friends will keep in touch with Michael and see what the group is up to via the Young Order of the Knights of Malta's page on Facebook which Camillus promises to update with pictures and news daily," John says.
Certainly the first leg of the journey will offer some special challenges as the group heads for Cairo and from there to Mount Sinai. The pilgrimage, which is a preparation for WYD11, is being led by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell.
Called the Exodus Encounter, the journey will take 14 with disabilities and another 26 including the volunteer pilgrim-carers, the ancient world where they will climb Mt Sinai and stand on the banks of the Red Sea.
Then with Cardinal Pell at the helm, the pilgrims will cross into the Holy Land to follow in the footsteps of Christ as they visit the Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, Old Jerusalem, Calvary, the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane before boarding a plane for Madrid and international World Youth Day 2011.
In Madrid, the young group with disabilities will join up with more than two million pilgrims from across the world including 4000 others with disabilities.
"It will be a life-changing event for all of us," predicts Camillus O'Kane.
St. John Vianney
CURE OF ARS, PATRON SAINT OF PARISH PRIESTS
Feast: August 4
Curé of Ars, born at Dardilly, near Lyons, France, on 8 May, 1786; died at Ars, 4 August, 1859; son of Matthieu Vianney and Marie Beluze."
In 1806, the curé at Ecully, M. Balley, opened a school for ecclesiastical students, and Jean-Marie was sent to him. Though he was of average intelligence and his masters never seem to have doubted his vocation, his knowledge was extremely limited, being confined to a little arithmetic, history, and geography, and he found learning, especially the study of Latin, excessively difficult. One of his fellow-students, Matthias Loras, afterwards first Bishop of Dubuque, assisted him with his Latin lessons.
But now another obstacle presented itself. Young Vianney was drawn in the conscription, the war with Spain and the urgent need of recruits having caused Napoleon to withdraw the exemption enjoyed by the ecclesiastical students in the diocese of his uncle, Cardinal Fesch. Matthieu Vianney tried unsuccessfully to procure a substitute, so his son was obliged to go. His regiment soon received marching orders. The morning of departure, Jean-Baptiste went to church to pray, and on his return to the barracks found that his comrades had already left. He was threatened with arrest, but the recruiting captain believed his story and sent him after the troops. At nightfall he met a young man who volunteered to guide him to his fellow-soldiers, but led him to Noes, where some deserters had gathered. The mayor persuaded him to remain there, under an assumed name, as schoolmaster. After fourteen months, he was able to communicate with his family. His father was vexed to know that he was a deserter and ordered him to surrender but the matter was settled by his younger brother offering to serve in his stead and being accepted.
Jean-Baptiste now resumed his studies at Ecully. In 1812, he was sent to the seminary at Verrieres; he was so deficient in Latin as to be obliged to follow the philosophy course in French. He failed to pass the examinations for entrance to the seminary proper, but on re-examination three months later succeeded. On 13 August, 1815, he was ordained priest by Mgr. Simon, Bishop of Grenoble. His difficulties in making the preparatory studies seem to have been due to a lack of mental suppleness in dealing with theory as distinct from practice -- a lack accounted for by the meagreness of his early schooling, the advanced age at which he began to study, the fact that he was not of more than average intelligence, and that he was far advanced in spiritual science and in the practice of virtue long before he came to study it in the abstract. He was sent to Ecully as assistant to M. Balley, who had first recognized and encouraged his vocation, who urged him to persevere when the obstacles in his way seemed insurmountable, who interceded with the examiners when he failed to pass for the higher seminary, and who was his model as well as his preceptor and patron. In 1818, after the death of M. Balley, M. Vianney was made parish priest of Ars, a village not very far from Lyons. It was in the exercise of the functions of the parish priest in this remote French hamlet that as the "curé d'Ars" he became known throughout France and the Christian world. A few years after he went to Ars, he founded a sort of orphanage for destitute girls. It was called "The Providence" and was the model of similar institutions established later all over France. M. Vianney himself instructed the children of "The Providence" in the catechism, and these catechetical instructions came to be so popular that at last they were given every day in the church to large crowds. "The Providence" was the favourite work of the "curé d'Ars", but, although it was successful, it was closed in 1847, because the holy curé thought that he was not justified in maintaining it in the face of the opposition of many good people. Its closing was a very heavy trial to him.
But the chief labour of the Curé d'Ars was the direction of souls. He had not been long at Ars when people began coming to him from other parishes, then from distant places, then from all parts of France, and finally from other countries. As early as 1835, his bishop forbade him to attend the annual retreats of the diocesan clergy because of "the souls awaiting him yonder". During the last ten years of his life, he spent from sixteen to eighteen hours a day in the confessional. His advice was sought by bishops, priests, religious, young men and women in doubt as to their vocation, sinners, persons in all sorts of difficulties and the sick. In 1855, the number of pilgrims had reached twenty thousand a year. The most distinguished persons visited Ars for the purpose of seeing the holy curé and hearing his daily instruction. The Venerable Father Colin was ordained deacon at the same time, and was his life-long friend, while Mother Marie de la Providence founded the Helpers of the Holy Souls on his advice and with his constant encouragement. His direction was characterized by common sense, remarkable insight, and supernatural knowledge. He would sometimes divine sins withheld in an imperfect confession. His instructions were simple in language, full of imagery drawn from daily life and country scenes, but breathing faith and that love of God which was his life principle and which he infused into his audience as much by his manner and appearance as by his words, for, at the last, his voice was almostinaudible.
The miracles recorded by his biographers are of three classes:
* first, the obtaining of money for his charities and food for his orphans;
The greatest miracle of all was his life. He practised mortification from his early youth. and for forty years his food and sleep were insufficient, humanly speaking, to sustain life. And yet he laboured incessantly, with unfailing humility, gentleness, patience, and cheerfulness, until he was more than seventy-three years old.
On 3 October, 1874 Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney was proclaimed Venerable by Pius IX and on 8 January, 1905, he was enrolled among the Blessed. Pope Pius X proposed him as a model to the parochial clergy.
[Note: In 1925, Pope Pius XI canonized him. His feast is kept on 4 August.]