CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: SAT. FEB. 20, 2011: HEADLINES-
UCAN REPORT: A former assistant vice postulator, who had a role in the canonization of St Alphonsa, India’s first woman saint, was killed yesterday while trying to save the life of a woman who’d become entangled in a power line.
Father Mathew Thondamkuzhy, parish priest of St. George Church Lalam in Kerala’s Palai diocese, died while trying to save his domestic help, Vicar General Father George Choorakkat said.
The 63-year-old woman, Achamma George, became entangled in the high-voltage power line while working in the church grounds.
Father Thondamkuzhy, who was 72, rushed to try and save the woman after hearing her cries for help, said Father Choorakkat.
“He tried to use a plastic rod to save her, but was also electrocuted,” he added.
Electricity Board engineers found the two bodies when they went to switch off a transformer before doing maintenance work.
“We found the bodies in a partially charred state,” said Uthup Varghese, one of the engineers.
Father Thondamkuzhy once served as an assistant vice postulator for the cause of Saint Alphonsa who became India’s first woman saint and the first canonized saint of the Syro-Malabar rite.
As assistant vice postulator he helped the vice postulator in preparing documentation, collecting artifacts and investigating reported miracles that were used to elevate the nun to sainthood.
Among the issues that are under discussion, the Bishops cite: the situation of the family, environmental degradation, lack of respect for life, the increase in violence and crime, the general poverty of the people, the corruption of the State, and the poverty of the public education system.
Faced with this situation in the Country and in society, the Bishops suggest a focus on the human person with dignity would constitute the foundation of Christian social ethics. It is therefore important to defend the rights of the human person. Also to be considered as the basis for society is the family and the exercise of political authority for the common good. The economy must seek to achieve integral human development and promotion. “It is necessary to point out that education is the fundamental basis for an equal participation in today's world. From the moment that is the primary responsibility for parents, the family becomes a strengthened unit for transmitting the necessary values for the welfare and development of all those who are part of it, as well as for society,” say the Bishops.
Finally, the Letter presents the appeal of the Bishops to urgently awaken the much-needed moral conscience to tackle corruption and economic, financial, legal, health, educational, social, cultural, environmental and political issues.
CNA REPORT- Polish clergymen rocketed down ski slopes to pay tribute to their beloved Pope and countryman, and to compete for a trophy in the John Paul II Cup.
The 14th annual Alpine Skiing Championship for Polish Priests and Seminarians took place in Wisla, Poland on Feb. 12.
One of two priests that organize the event annually, 37-year old Fr. Gregory Szwarc, told CNA that the event was revived in 1998 by a group of Franciscan priests who did so in memory of a similar tournament from the past.
They have a “good pattern” to follow, said Fr. Szwarc. “Our Pope John Paul II went skiing so that is why we gave the competition his name.”
The tournament divides priests into four age groups and also pits seminarians against each other in a separate category. Events are based around an 800 meter slalom race.
The clergy begin the competition with the traditional opening run down the mountain in their black cassocks. They shed the official Church clothing in favor of full ski suits before the real competition.
Members of the priests' immediate families are also eligible to participate in a “doubles” race, with the fastest pair down the mountain taking the gold.
This year, 30 priests and 7 seminarians from all over Poland participated in the event, a sizable increase from the 26 who competed a year ago. The downhill race also drew 17 entrants in the family category this year.
Those who took gold in the priest categories were: Fr. Chris Sontag of Our Lady of the Rosary in Lędziny; Fr. Henry Urbas, SDB, from Krakow; Fr. Damian Copek from the parish of St. Mary in Katowice; and Fr. Simon Kos from the parish church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Katowice-Dęba.
Winners receive a special trophy, a John Paul II cup.
CNS REPORT -- For several of the cloistered Carmelite Sisters at Mount Carmel Convent, their life of prayer began in their families, when they were children.
"My dad taught me to pray for others," said Sister Bernadette, one of the younger sisters. She said her father told her he knew sisters who prayed for everyone, and she asked if they could pray for her, too. She said she began corresponding with the sisters and was drawn to their life of prayer.
Sister Bernadette is among 16 sisters in a contemplative community at Mount Carmel Convent in Nairobi. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)
Sister Constanza, who professed her final vows in January, said she attended Mass each morning because she did not live far from the local church. Each evening, her family gathered to pray the rosary and other evening prayers.
"I decided to give myself to the Lord for myself and for the salvation of souls," and the best way seemed to be contemplative life, she said.
In an interview with Catholic News Service Feb. 16, several of the sisters talked about the path that led them to nearly continuous prayer each day.
"I never dreamed of becoming a nun," said Sister Monica, who now serves as novice mistress for the order. In college, she met some Catholic students who began praying the rosary together, then attending daily Mass. One of the students wanted to become a Franciscan priest, and as he talked more about the saints, her interest grew.
She said she was filled with "a desire to belong to Christ."
Sister Regina, a young nun who works with aspirants, said her family prayed the rosary and intercessions every day.
"I came from a praying family," she said with a smile. She said she felt called to pray, "especially for priests."
Not all of the sisters are from Kenya. Sister Agnes, from India, said a friend of her sister was becoming a Carmelite, and "somehow that mystique of Carmel drew me very strongly."
The cloister was founded by Carmelites from Dublin in the mid-20th century. When the archbishop of Nairobi visited Cleveland, he asked the Carmelites there for help, and six nuns and three postulants flew to Kenya in 1951.
Three U.S. sisters who entered as postulants -- Margaret, Jean and Mary -- remain, now as some of the oldest members of the order.
Sister Margaret, originally from Pittsburgh, said when she was a teenager, she had visited the Carmelites in Cleveland, and they invited her to go with them to Kenya. They "took a chance" and took her along, she said. Since then, she has only traveled home to be with her mother when she died.
She and Sister Agnes spoke of how much the area around the cloister has changed. Today, it has been built up and surrounded by affluent homes. When they arrived, they were the only building on the hill, and they could see Mounts Kenya and Kilimanjaro in different directions. Now the city is too built up to see far, they said.
The two were there during the eight-year Mau Mau Uprising that started in 1952, and the Mau Mau, a tribal group, had a hideout in the valley. Sister Agnes said one of the local priests talked to the Mau Mau, who promised never to trouble the sisters, because they were holy.
Today, when young women apply to join the order, the sisters require that they finish high school and begin some other course work, Sister Monica said.
"It gives them time to mature a bit," she said.
Sister Regina, who works with the aspirants, said she checks to see if candidates are "determined to live the life."
"Does she feel called because she has other things she is afraid to face or does she feel called because God is calling her?" she said.
An aspirant will join the sisters for three months to see if a contemplative life is something she really wants. The day begins with the prayers of the morning office at 5:20 and ends around 10 or 10:30 p.m. Other than a couple of hours of recreation, the day is spent in prayer. While the sisters work -- sewing vestments and altar linens, printing greeting cards and making Communion hosts -- they meditate. Meals, cooked by the sisters, are eaten in silence while one nun reads -- to nourish the soul.
The sisters pray for their own intentions -- pregnant women and mothers, priests, events in the world -- as well as intentions of those who ask, including Muslims, Hindus and Protestants.
Sister Bernadette said they prayed for Americans before the 2008 elections "because we have our American sisters."
"It's not just like we are here for Kenya," added Sister Regina.
CATH NEWS REPORT: Three years after the Australian Government's historic apology to the Stolen Generations, Jesuit Father Frank Brennan says Indigenous people are still being singled out by policies which deny them the opportunity to speak for themselves, reports Province Express. He singled out compulsory income management of welfare payments in Indigenous communities. While the government reduced the discriminatory effect of these provisions by extending them to all Territorians, Fr Brennan said serious objections remain. The prominent human rights advocate said in an article on Eureka Street that special measures introduced as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) are yet to be repealed, despite calls to do so. "Most of the peak national bodies in the welfare sector have expressed principled objections to compulsory income management except for proven cases of recipients failing to discharge parental obligations," said Fr Brennan. He cited Catholic Social Services: 'Adequate income support is an entitlement. It should not be a tool for governments or public sector managers to grant, withhold or modify in an effort to achieve "outcomes".' 'Special measures' taken in Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory aim to reduce alcohol-related harm, to protect children from being exposed to prohibited material, to improve the delivery of services and to promote economic and social development, and to promote food security. "I am prepared to concede the need for special measures in relation to alcohol and pornography, provided such restrictions are sought by local community leaders and are workable," said Fr Brennan. "The other special measures are more questionable, especially given the compulsory acquisition of land that is the birthright of Aboriginal people. "Let's hope that by the fourth anniversary of the Apology, our statute books are stripped of measures which single out Aborigines for special treatment except in those instances where that treatment is voluntarily sought if not by the overwhelming majority of persons affected, then at least by community leaders speaking for their communities plagued by the abuses of pornography and excessive alcohol consumption." http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=25109
St. Conrad of Piacenza
Feast: February 19
|Mark 9: 2 - 13|
|2||And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them,|
|3||and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them.|
|4||And there appeared to them Eli'jah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus.|
|5||And Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah."|
|6||For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid.|
|7||And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him."|
|8||And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only.|
|9||And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of man should have risen from the dead.|
|10||So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.|
|11||And they asked him, "Why do the scribes say that first Eli'jah must come?"|
|12||And he said to them, "Eli'jah does come first to restore all things; and how is it written of the Son of man, that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt?|
|13||But I tell you that Eli'jah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him."|