- Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh has asked the faithful to pray this Holy Week for the victims and survivors of the deadly April 16 tornadoes which struck parts of his diocese.
In a video message to the faithful of the Diocese of Raleigh, he said the storms left “death, injury and destruction.”
“The pictures of the devastation are dramatic, but much more significant are the people who have been so traumatically affected,” the bishop said. “In just a few seconds many lost all their possessions. Some were badly injured and, sadly, several lost their lives.”
“If you know of a need for immediate assistance in your community, please contact your local Catholic Charities office,” he added.
He also announced a special collection and asked Catholics to participate.
Some 60 tornadoes killed at least 21 people and left hundreds homeless in the worst storm in the state since 1984.
Survivors of the storms had dramatic stories of the events.
Twenty-one-year-old Jonathan Robinson saw the tornado moving towards his mobile home in the town of Dunn and grabbed his cousin’s three-month-old son. He ran towards a closet in his bedroom but the tornado tore his home into pieces around him and swept the baby into the sky.
“As soon as I jumped in the closet, it came down and that little baby flew out of my hand,” he told the Associated Press. “I seen him leave my arms. That's how strong the wind was.”
After a search through the rubble of the Cedar Creek Mobile Home Park, family members found the baby unconscious but with only minor injuries.
John Lucas, a 73-year-old resident of the same mobile home park, was buried under his home’s walls.
“I wasn't hurt. I was just pinned down on the floor and couldn't get out,” Lucas said. “According to what those people tell me, I'm a lucky man.”
Rev. Darren Whitehurst of Greater Wynns Gove Baptist Church saw his church damaged by the storm. Its steeple was swept away in the wind and hasn’t been found.
He helped dig church members out of the rubble of their homes before Palm Sunday services, whose message was about helping others in need.
“It's been a trying night. It's been a bloody night,” Whitehurst told the Associated Press. “But God is still good.”
The Catholic community is working with government officials to provide for victims in Bertie County, one of the hardest-hit areas where 11 lost their lives. They are helping assess damage and provide services such as trauma counseling.
In Wake County, the Catholic Charities agency Catholic Parish Outreach has been providing assistance to residents of a mobile home community which sustained major damage.
Three young children, members of St. Raphael Parish in Raleigh, died in the storm there.
“In this holiest of weeks, I ask that you include a special intention in your prayers every day for those who have died, those who are injured, and those who have suffered property loss or damage,” said Bishop Burbidge, who also asked for prayers for first responders and those tending to victims.
“May Our Lord be especially close to each of these most in need,” Bishop Burbidge prayed, “and may God also bless you and your family during these sacred days and always.”
Individuals may donate to the tornado relief effort through the web page of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh, marking their donation for “Disaster Relief.”
Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Church in China is suffering the strict control of the regime and persecutions, but in each parish, even the smallest, the baptism of dozens of new Christians will be celebrated during the Easter vigil.
In Beijing, the faithful of the official Church are a bit 'confused by the strong control of the Patriotic Association, which has forced Archbishop Joseph Li Shan to participate in the illicit ordination ceremonies of Chengde and the Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives. Both gestures, according to the Holy See are a sign against the communion with the Pope. Just yesterday, during Mass of the Lord's Supper, Benedict XVI recalled that "he Eucharist is the sacrament of unity. It reaches the very mystery of the Trinity and thus creates visible unity..... Hence the words “una cum Papa nostro et cum episcopo nostro” are a requisite part of the Church’s Eucharistic Prayer." These words are not an addendum of sorts, but a necessary expression of what the Eucharist really is. Furthermore, we mention the Pope and the Bishop by name: unity is something utterly concrete, it has names. In this way unity becomes visible; it becomes a sign for the world and a concrete criterion for ourselves.
In Shanghai, the faithful celebrate Easter with more enthusiasm after they received the news from the Vatican of the beginning of the process of beatification of Paul Xu Guangqi, a Mandarin friend of Matteo Ricci, among the first converted by the Jesuits in the seventeenth century and a highly respected character by historians.
The joy for the beatification of Paul Xu Guangqi is also shared by the city's underground Christians, though they have long called on the Vatican to open the beatification process of Cardinal Ignatius Gong Pinmei as well, a champion of faith and fidelity to the pope. The then bishop of Shanghai past 33 years in prison for this very reason and was appointed cardinal "in pectore" by John Paul II (cf. AsiaNews.it, 25/02/2010, Waiting for the beatification of Card Kung Pin-mei ten years after his death).
In Hebei, some Baoding Catholics have confessed to AsiaNews their pain over the division of their community, after Mgr. Francis An Shuxin moved to the official Church of (29/10/2009 In Hebei, underground bishop joins Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association). Yesterday, at the Chrism Mass, only 20 priests - out of 100 - attended the celebration with Msgr. An.
Many underground communities, afraid of being arrested by the police, continue to change the venue in which they will celebrate Easter. In other parts of the country, underground communities are left alone, provided they remain unobtrusive in their celebrations.
Even in these difficulties and divisions, each community has confirmed to AsiaNewsthat on the night of the Easter Vigil, there will be dozens of baptisms in each parish or group. A parish in the north will see 40 baptisms. An important fact is the age of the newly baptized (mostly adults between 30 and 40 years) and the reasons that led them to become Catholic. "In a society where there is a lot of lies, they are driven to seek the truth and to find answers to important questions of life, that materialism is unable to meet."
Some estimates state there are at least 150 thousand newly baptized each year in China.
ALL AFRICA REPORT: Church leaders have called on Zambians to maintain peace and unity as the country heads towards general elections.
The clergy, who led hundreds of people in celebrating Palm Sunday yesterday, said there was need for Zambians to love one another and maintain peace as the country goes to the polls later this year.
Some Church denominations represented at the celebrations were the Anglican Church, United Church of Zambia and Catholic Church.
Father Thomas said the Church was praying for political leaders and the people of Zambia so that the country holds peaceful elections.
He said while people could hold different opinions, they should always be led by the Holy Spirit and love for one another.
At the same occasion, St Ignatius Church superior Charles Chilinda appealed to Zambians to embrace peace and love.
Fr Chilinda said all Zambians belonged to Jesus Christ and as they campaigned, they should remember His love for all.
He said Zambians should be like Jesus who despite knowing that he was going to die for people's sins did not stop loving.
Fr Chilinda said celebrating Palm Sunday with other Church denominations and people with different opinions was a demonstration that the Spirit of God should be upon everyone.
He said people who opposed peace and love in Zambia were against God's work.
Ecumenical Committee chairperson, Thompson Mkandawire said the humility shown by Jesus as He entered Jerusalem should be reflected by all Zambians, especially as the country goes towards the elections.
Reverend Mkandawire said Jesus entered Jerusalem with a message of peace and every Christian should identify with it by accepting and loving one another.
He said this year's Palm Sunday celebration was a launch of a campaign for non-violence during the elections.
And the Government has pledged to work with the Church mother bodies to ensure that this year's elections are held in a peaceful environment.Palm Sunday, which is an annual event, signifies the day Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem and was welcomed by a multitude of people.
Livingstone District Commissioner Francis Chika said yesterday that the Government wanted to work with the Church as partners in national development.
Livingstone Brethren in Christ Reverend-in-charge, Howard Sikwela urged Zambians to vote wisely in this year's elections.
Council of Churches in Zambia Livingstone chairperson Cosmas Wakunguma urged people to pray against violence.
CATHOLIC LEADER REPORT: A STAINLESS steel 3m crucifix is the latest significant feature to be installed at Mary Immaculate Church, at Ashmore on the Gold Coast.
Southport parish priest Fr Peter Dillon said the crucifix was installed from the church roof on April 15 and was to be unveiled on Good Friday.
Maleny sculptor Cezary Stulgis was commissioned to undertake the work, and Fr Dillon said the end result was a really significant crucifix that challenged people to meditate on Christ's Passion.
"The crucifix is such a significant piece in every church, but I had found that some of the more traditional ones were not drawing people into their imagination, (people) were just saying 'doesn't it look lovely'.
"I wanted this one to be confronting, I wanted people to understand his (Jesus') crucifixion was not lovely but it was a means to something very important."
Fr Dillion said the parish had wanted the new crucifix to highlight the scriptural parts of the crucifixion.
"Features such as the crown of thorns, nailing of the hands and feet and the piercing of the side were filled in and all sculptured in a way to draw people in so that when we read the Passion, people will be able to focus on those particular pieces," he said.
"The rest of the body is almost see-through, it's clear.
"We didn't want to put too much structure so the people themselves can say, 'I can see the passion of it, I can see the suffering', but you can also see the fact that he's God and Man, a whole lot of connections between what we know scripturally and what we allow the revelation of Christ to be in the present day."
Fr Dillon said the crucifix was attached to the church ceiling to be visible to people as they looked at the altar.
VIRGIN AND ABBESS
Feast: April 22
Virgin and abbess of Montreuil, three miles from Seez, an episcopal see in Normandy, of which her brother, St. Chrodegang, was bishop. This holy prelate, returning from a pilgrimage of devotion which he had made to Rome and other holy places, went to pay a visit to his cousin, St. Lantildis, abbess of Almanesches, in his diocese; but was murdered in the way, at Normant, on the 3d of September, 769, by the contrivance of Chrodobert, a powerful relation, to whom he had intrusted the administration of his temporalities during his absence. He is honored in the Breviary of Seez on the day of his death: his head is enshrined in the abbey of St. Martin in the Fields, at Paris, and his body in the priory of Isle-Adam upon the Oise, near Pontoise. St. Opportuna did not long survive him, dying in 770, on the 22d of April, having lived an accomplished model of humility, obedience, mortification, and prayer. Her relics were carried from Seez during the incursions of the Normans, in the reign of Charles the Bald, to the priory of Moussy, between Paris and Senlis, in 1009: and some time after to Senlis. In the reign of Charles V., in 1374, her right arm was translated to Paris with great devotion and pomp, and deposited in the church which was built in her honor, in the reign of Charles the Bald, to receive a former portion of her relics then brought from Moussy. It was then a small church, built at the entrance of a wood, near a hermitage, called before, Notre Dames des Bois Paris. The town being since extended much beyond this church, it was made parochial and a collegiate of canons. Great part of the head of St. Opportuna remains at Moussy; her left arm, with part of her skull, at Almenesches: one jaw in the priory of St. Chrodegang, at l'Isle-Adam, and a rib, with her right arm, in her church at Paris. In processions, when the shrine of St. Genevieve is taken down, and carried, the ancient portion of the relics of St. Opportuna, kept in a large shrine, is also carried next the shrine of St. Honoratus. She is commemorated in the Paris Breviary, and is the titular saint of a parish in that city.
|26||One of the servants of the high priest, a kinsman of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, "Did I not see you in the garden with him?"|
|27||Peter again denied it; and at once the cock crowed.|
|28||Then they led Jesus from the house of Ca'iaphas to the praetorium. It was early. They themselves did not enter the praetorium, so that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover.|
|29||So Pilate went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this man?"|
|30||They answered him, "If this man were not an evildoer, we would not have handed him over."|
|31||Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law." The Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death."|
|32||This was to fulfil the word which Jesus had spoken to show by what death he was to die.|
|33||Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus, and said to him, "Are you the King of the Jews?"|
|34||Jesus answered, "Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?"|
|35||Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?"|
|36||Jesus answered, "My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world."|
|37||Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice."|
|38||Pilate said to him, "What is truth?" After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again, and told them, "I find no crime in him.|
|39||But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover; will you have me release for you the King of the Jews?"|
|40||They cried out again, "Not this man, but Barab'bas!" Now Barab'bas was a robber.|
|19: 1 - 42|
|1||Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him.|
|2||And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and arrayed him in a purple robe;|
|3||they came up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands.|
|4||Pilate went out again, and said to them, "See, I am bringing him out to you, that you may know that I find no crime in him."|
|5||So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Behold the man!"|
|6||When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him."|
|7||The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God."|
|8||When Pilate heard these words, he was the more afraid;|
|9||he entered the praetorium again and said to Jesus, "Where are you from?" But Jesus gave no answer.|
|10||Pilate therefore said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?"|
|11||Jesus answered him, "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin."|
|12||Upon this Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend; every one who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar."|
|13||When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, and in Hebrew, Gab'batha.|
|14||Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!"|
|15||They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar."|
|16||Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.|
|17||So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Gol'gotha.|
|18||There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.|
|19||Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."|
|20||Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.|
|21||The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, "Do not write, `The King of the Jews,' but, `This man said, I am King of the Jews.'"|
|22||Pilate answered, "What I have written I have written."|
|23||When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom;|
|24||so they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be." This was to fulfil the scripture, "They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots."|
|25||So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Mag'dalene.|