Wednesday, October 31, 2012





HURRICANE SANDY struck in 13 States in the USA, parts of the Caribbean and parts of Canada. The death toll from the storm is currently 122 people. With 67 from the Caribbean, 54 from the US and 1 from Canada. The hardest hit was New York State. There is fires and flooding in many areas that are still causing damage. The damage is severe and the costs are rising. (Image source: GOOGLE)

Catholic Charities Stands Ready to Address Immediate
Community Needs Left by Hurricane Sandy

Local Agencies Able to Assess and Provide Resources in Aftermath of Storm

Alexandria, VA - Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), among the nation’s largest disaster response organizations, reported today that a major assessment of the impact and needs created by Hurricane Sandy is well underway, and that immediate service is being provided in partnership with other disaster organizations and state and local governments along the East coast.

Rev. Larry Snyder, President of CCUSA said, “We are the people on the ground before, during and long-after a disaster strikes, which puts us in a unique position to really understand a community’s needs and makes us an invaluable asset to first responders and our partners.”

CCUSA is receiving regular reports and updates from its agencies in New York, New Jersey, and all the way down the East coast—all of whom have been prepared for Sandy and stand ready in partnership with other responding agencies and local authorities to provide immediate relief and shelter to all impacted individuals and families. They will continue to do so until the lives of these individuals return to normal.

Samuel Chambers, Senior Vice President of CCUSA’s Disaster Response Operations said, “Many of these areas were also severely impacted by Hurricane Irene one year ago. Emotional & spiritual care will play a large role in the response and recovery phases.”

Since Hurricane Katrina, Catholic Charities USA and its network of agencies across the country has helped thousands of families recover from disasters, first as an early responder to the immediate needs and later helping people rebuild their lives. Relief and recovery services are provided at the local level by Catholic Charities agencies that provide critical services including emergency food, shelter, direct financial assistance, counseling, and support. These services are provided regardless of religion, race, creed, or socio-economic status.

To support our efforts and help restore desperately needed hope, please call 1-800-919-9338 or visit our website at to see how you can help.
For regular updates, you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


A virtual cemetery has opened for All Saints' Day
Catholic Church News Image of Filipinos go online for Day of the Dead
The homepage of the virtual cemetery
The observance of Undas, or Day of the Dead, is a major family affair in the Philippines. In honor of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day on November 1 and 2, tombs are cleaned and repainted, candles are lit and flowers are offered.
It is also a public holiday and, traditionally, Filipino families spend a night or two in the cemetery near their relatives’ tombs, playing card games, eating, drinking, singing and dancing.
But what about the large diaspora of Filipinos who are too far away to visit their loved ones’ resting places?
Enter the internet.
On Tuesday, the country’s bishops reactivated a virtual cemetery: Undas Online.
The website, introduced last year, has a “Prayer Request” button where visitors can list the names of the dead they want to pray for. With another click, they can also make a visit to the virtual cemetery, where they can spend time in quiet reflection. The site also offers suitable prayers to be recited there.
Monsignor Pedro Quitorio III, media office director of the bishops’ conference, said the service is for Filipinos who work abroad and for them to feel that they are also in the cemetery on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
“That’s the purpose of the photos of the cemetery, so that our overseas workers can pray for their departed loved ones by just looking at the photos,” he said.
The service received 20,000 requests and garnered “positive feedback” last year from Filipinos around the world, he added.
Also included on the site are podcasts and catechesis on the liturgical meaning of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
Msgr. Quitorio, however, said Filipinos in the country are still encouraged to visit cemeteries, oratories and churches to physically visit the tombs of their dear departed.



Cardinal calls for better understanding of causes of crime | Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, 2012 Sir Harold Hood Memorial Lecture, Allen Hall Seminary, 'Faith and the Criminal Justice System'

Cardinal Cormac - image Marcin Mazur
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor gave the 2012 Sir Harold Hood Memorial Lecture today , 30th October, at Allen Hall Seminary, on 'Faith and the Criminal Justice System'. The full text follows.
I have always had a certain sympathy for men and women in prison. This is not because I condone their crimes but when talking to them I realise there are so many aspects to their present condition. I also remember the Lord’s wonderful words about the last judgement in Matthew’s Gospel: Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty, a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and did not come to your help? (Mt. 25:45). Somehow, prisoners are very dear to the Lord’s heart and the way we minister to them is of enormous importance.
The teaching of the second Vatican Council says that, ‘Without exception, we are to recognise the innate dignity of every human being as somebody made in the image and likeness of God.’ This, of course, includes the 87,000 people held in the prisons of England and Wales, today.
In his letter “for the jubilee in Prisons” on the occasion of the Holy Year 2000, Pope John Paul ll said: “Those in prison look back with regret or remorse to the days when they were free and they experience their time now as a burden which never seems to pass. In this difficult situation, a strong experience of faith can greatly help in finding the inner balance which every human being needs.” What does this Faith say about prisoners? Pope Benedict XVl visited Rebibbia prison in Rome, recently and said this to the prisoners: “I’ve come simply to tell you that God loves you. Wherever there is a hungry person, a foreigner, a sick person or a prisoner, there is Christ himself who is awaiting our visit and our help.”
Some eight years ago, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference published a Report on Criminal Justice matters, called ‘A Place of Redemption.’ We launched it in Brixton prison. Although the statistics have changed, it is still a very important document, containing a Christian view on Punishment and Prison. I recommend anyone involved in our Criminal Justice process, to read this Report. It doesn’t make comfortable reading though, because it challenges us all to pray, to reflect and to be somehow involved in the world of Crime, Punishment, Justice and Mercy. The heart of the document is based on Catholic Social Teaching and the concept of The Common Good. Every individual is created in the image of God. Every human person is the clearest reflection of God that we have. As the 1996 document on ‘The Common Good’ puts it:
“We believe each person possesses a basic dignity that comes from God, not from any human quality or accomplishment, not from race or gender, age or economic status.”
Then the document spells out how we should view our prison system: “The test therefore of every institution or policy is whether it enhances or threatens human dignity and indeed human life itself.......This insight has a number of ramifications. It is important to remember that it applies as much to victims as to the prisoner. It also bears upon our responsibilities as well as our rights: the ‘Imago Die’, the ‘Image of God’ constitutes the basis of obligations to others – for we all carry the obligation to see God in all others, recognising and honouring them – irrespective of wealth, power, prestige, utility or behaviour....Mercy must reveal to us that a new possibility for being human resides in that ‘image of God’” in each person.
This must also mean that a penal policy which is “essentially or primarily punitive is also unacceptable – for it does not fully respect that the human person remains always open to the possibility of mercy as the necessary complement to justice and to the fulfilment of social relations.”
Is our prison system primarily punitive? Deprivation of liberty is punishment itself and surely is only appropriate for adults who have committed very serious or violent crimes. However, for those in prison, this time must be well spent with opportunities for rehabilitation. The then Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, in 1910 said that the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any Country .
Let’s look at a few statistics which might help us to discover how punitive is our own Criminal Justice system:
39% of children in custody have been on the child protection register or have experienced neglect or abuse. 71% have been involved with, or in the care of Social Services prior to imprisonment.
Over half the women in prison have suffered domestic violence; over 30% have been sexually abused.
50% of the men and women in prison ran away from home as children. Shouldn’t we try to better understand why people commit crime? I suspect that better understanding would lead to less punishment and a clearer connection between Criminal Justice and Social policy.
Our politicians use hard words in describing our approach to justice, the media tend to also do the same. The Prison Service is now asked to reduce its budget by 23%.
In 2004, when we launched ‘A Place of Redemption’, the prison population stood at about 75,000. In the last 8 years it has increased by about 12,000. In the last two decades, it has doubled! This is not because of significantly more crime but because we have become more punitive – increasing the length of sentences, introducing mandatory sentences and seeking imprisonment earlier for those who in the past would have received a fine or told to do Community Service.
Over 80 of our prisons are overcrowded. There is a great deal of violence and self-harm in our prisons with around 80% suffering some form of mental illness. Only 36% of released former Offenders go into Education, Training or Employment and many are homeless and in debt, on leaving prison. 47% of all adults are reconvicted within one year, rising to 57% for those serving sentences of less than 12 months and almost 70% for those under 18 years of age.
On the positive side, there is a 45% drop in the number of children and young people being sent to custody in the Youth Justice system, with a 1000 fewer young people in custody today than 10 years ago. Community Sentences are reducing reoffending rates better than custodial sentences. Nonetheless, the Government’s 46 page consultation document, uses the word ‘punitive’ 42 times and refers to ‘punishment’ on 48 occasions. We need to restore an emphasis on Rehabilitation and Reform, rather than
Where do people of Faith stand in all this? We live in a society where most people do not want to know about prison. People of Faith, too, are indeed influenced by this attitude. However, the Church has a long history of being alongside those in prison. Today, for example, we have a record number of Catholic Prison chaplains, working in the prisons of England and Wales - 180 Priests, Deacons, Religious and Lay-people. They work alongside other chaplains and in partnership with the Prison Service.
Our presence isn’t just motivated by our social concern but by the values of the Gospel. There is a Gospel imperative which demands our attention. “I was in prison and you visited me,” or you didn’t! That is what the Lord will say to us on Judgement Day!
Sometimes, good things happen in prison. Sometimes prisoners take the few opportunities that exist, to address the issues behind their offending behaviour and are able to move forward positively in their lives. Many people in prison, in their pain and sense of failure open their hearts to God, like never before, and discover the God of tenderness and compassion, who is slow to anger and rich in mercy.
I would like to draw your attention to another area on which rehabilitation and reform depend, that is the support that people leaving prison, really need. All the statistics available indicate that people leaving prison, who receive support and encouragement from others, on the outside, are much more likely to break the cycle of re-offending. Without anyone to care, former Offenders tend to drift back to old neighbourhoods and to old patterns of behaviour. Jobs, Training and Housing are vitally important pathways that lead to Change. But even more crucial is the actual presence of another living human being alongside, who understands the struggle, who refuses to condemn and recognises the innate value and worth of the Child of God who has just left prison.
There are many excellent schemes that offer that necessary support which is needed by our brothers and sisters on discharge from prison.
Sometimes, sadly, Christian People of Faith have been slow to be involved in such schemes, even though the words of the Lord are so clear. We all need to examine our consciences.
May I commend to you especially, ‘Basic Caring Communities’, which is an initiative of PACT. Basic Caring Communities asks for volunteers from among Christian Churches and provides initial and on-going training and supervision for volunteers who accompany former Offenders for the first few crucial months following release from prison. A small group of four volunteers forms around a core member, offering daily contact, if so wished.
Then, once a week, the whole little group come together, over a cup of tea and a piece of cake to enjoy each other’s company and to talk about the ups and downs of life. This can actually be the first time ever that someone leaving prison has experienced a real sense of belonging, of being heard, of being valued and supported. This experience of being treated with respect and kindness is not mere sympathy. It is not a soft way of treating people who have committed crime. In fact, it is a care which has strict boundaries and which challenges the core member to change and to help themselves.
Nonetheless, it is an unconditional and tender and wise way of accompanying people on leaving prison. There is already considerable evidence indicating that Basic Caring Communities is a most effective way of reducing re-offending. I recommend to all our Catholic parishes this scheme, as an excellent way of fulfilling the Lord’s words “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.”
Source: Archbishops House


Archdiocese unites with schools for Anti-Poverty Week

Wednesday 31 October 2012

By Kristen Toohey

“IT’s not every day a person is given the opportunity to experience an event that can potentially change their life. The opportunity to watch the film, The Human Experience, has inspired us. The documentary sparked a flame within us; we want to go out into the world and try to make a change. As students we are the future leaders of the world and we have the capability to change the world!”

This was the reaction of Year 11 students, Joanne Tissera and Alexandra Thurn, from Catholic Regional College Melton, after they viewed the multi-award winning film by two Catholic filmmakers, The Human Experience, a film that continues to inspire people across the globe to consider the plight of those less fortunate.

As part of Anti-Poverty Week 2012, the Communications Office at the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne arranged public screening licenses and DVD’s of The Human Experience to be available to Catholic secondary schools throughout Melbourne.

Religious Education & Faith Development Coordinator at Catholic Regional College Melton took up the opportunity and said, “Numerous classes at our school have viewed the film and it has created much introspection and discussion.”

Joanne Tissera and Alexandra Thurn, also had this to say about the impact of the film:

The Human Experience opened our eyes to poverty and hurt throughout the world. It is unbelievable to see the positive attitude of those so much less fortunate. Most of the people we saw have been living in unfortunate situations for years, yet they have a smile that could light up a room. The people throughout the documentary were happy to share their story.

“We don't realize how far a little smile or wave can travel. Something little like that can make someone's day. The people from the documentary have taught us to be positive no matter what, because there is always someone else out there that is worse off than us.

“As much as we hate to admit it, most of us take life for granted. It is almost assumed that living until tomorrow is a given. This documentary was enlightening, it reminded us to be happy with every single day of our lives and has truly shown us that it is never too late to help out in a big or small way.

“The world is a big place, but we feel that even if we help in one way or another, whether that be as small as buying a homeless person a snack or helping out in a soup kitchen; we have made a difference and together we can change the world, one step at a time.”

DVD’s and free public screening licenses for The Human Experience continue to be available to Catholic schools throughout Melbourne or to catechists or chaplains working in government high schools. For more information contact Kristen Toohey on or 9926 5778.



KADUNA, October 30, 2012 (CISA) -At least eight people were killed and dozens injured in a suicide bombing during Mass at a Catholic church in Kaduna, northern Nigeria on Sunday 27. A vehicle smashed through a wall into the church and exploded, ripping a hole in the roof and destroying nearby homes.
The attack took place at St Rita’s church in the Malali neighbourhood of the city. Members of the choir are among those who died.

The Archbishop of Kaduna, Mgr Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso said the attack was: “A cowardly, barbarous and horrible act that any ordinary person can only condemn. It is unthinkable that anyone is able to commit such actions, but unfortunately it happens,”
President Goodluck Jonathan promised to “redouble” his government’s efforts to tackle terrorism and violence. He called the attack part of an “unfortunate and unacceptable trend that threatens the peace and stability of our nation”.

The action has not been claimed, but it has all the hallmarks of the Boko Haram Islamist group which have attacked many churches.
Media sources report a number of reprisal attacks by Christians on property. “I have no direct knowledge of retaliation actions – said Mgr Ndagoso – but as soon as the news about episodes of revenge on behalf of Christians spread, I immediately launched an appeal via radio to calm and peace. Unfortunately one cannot control everyone.”

“The situation is now calm, the police and the army control the streets. Even in the area of the attack the population is dedicated to their normal activities, ” said the Archbishop to Fides and concluded: “the President of the Assembly, who is a Muslim, condemned the attack, today we will see if other Muslim leaders will join in condemning this brutal act.”


In honor of the YEAR OF FAITH - JCE news will be showing some of the TOP Catholic movies of all time - view new episodes each day. Tune in for PART VI of St. Francis - tomorrow.


St. Wolfgang
Feast: October 31
Feast Day:
October 31
924 in Swabia
31 October 994 at Pupping, Linz (modern Austria)
1052 by Pope Leo IX
Patron of:
apoplexy; carpenters and wood carvers; paralysis; stomach diseases; strokes

Bishop of Ratisbon (972-994), born about 934; died at the village of Pupping in upper Austria, 31 October, 994. The name Wolfgang is of early German origin. St. Wolfgang was one of the three brilliant stars of the tenth century, St. Ulrich, St. Conrad, and St. Wolfgang, which illuminated the early medieval period of Germany with the undying splendour of their acts and services. St. Wolfgang sprang from a family of Swabian counts of Pfullingen (Mon. Germ. His.: Script., X, 53). When seven years old he had an ecclesiastic as tutor at home; later he attended the celebrated monastic school on the Reichenau. Here he formed a strong friendship with Henry, brother of Bishop Poppo of Würzburg, whom he followed to Würzburg in order to attend at the cathedral school there the lectures of the noted Italian grammarian, Stephen of Novara. After Henry was made Archbishop of Trier in 956, he called his friend to Trier, where Wolfgang became a teacher in the cathedral school, and also laboured for the reform of the archdiocese, notwithstanding the enmity with which his efforts were met. Wolfgang's residence at Trier greatly influenced his monastic and ascetic tendencies, as here he came into connection with the great reformatory monastery of the tenth century, St. Maximin of Trier, where he made the acquaintance of Ramwold, the teacher of St. Adalbert of Prague. After the death (964) of Archbishop Henry of Trier, Wolfgang entered the Order of St. Benedict in the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln, Switzerland, and was ordained priest by St. Ulrich in 968.
After their defeat in the battle of the Lechfeld (955), a victory gained with the aid of St. Ulrich, the heathen Magyars settled in ancient Pannonia. As long as they were not converted to Christianity they remained a constant menace to the empire. At the request of St. Ulrich, who clearly saw the danger, and at the desire of the Emperor Otto the Great, St. Wolfgang, according to the abbey annals, was "sent to Magyars" as the most suitable man to evangelize them. He was followed by other missionaries sent by Bishop Piligrim of Nassau, under whose jurisdiction the new missionary region came. After the death of Bishop Michael of Ratisbon (23 September, 972) Bishop Piligrim obtained from the emperor the appointment of Wolfgang as Bishop of Ratisbon (Christmas, 972). Wolfgang's services in this new position were of the highest importance, not only for the diocese, but also for the cause of civilization. As Bishop of Ratisbon, Wolfgang became the tutor of Emperor St. Henry II, who learned from him the principles which governed his saintly and energetic life. Poppe, son of Margrave Luitpold, Archbishop of Trier (1016), and Tagino, Archbishop of Magdeburg (1004-1012), also had him as their teacher.
St. Wolfgang deserves credit for his disciplinary labours in his diocese. His main work in this respect was connected with the ancient and celebrated Abbey of St. Emmeram which he reformed by granting it once more abbots of its own, thus withdrawing it from the control of the bishops of Ratisbon, who for many years had been abbots in commendam, a condition of affairs that had been far from beneficial to the abbey and monastic life. In the Benedictine monk Ramwold, whom St. Wolfgang called from St. Maximin at Trier, St. Emmeram received a capable abbot (975). The saint also reformed the convents of Obermunster and Niedermunster at Ratisbon, chiefly by giving them as an example the convent of St. Paul, Mittelmunster, at Ratisbon, which he had founded in 983. He also co-operated in the reform of the ancient and celebrated Benedictine Abbey of Altach (Nieder-altach), which had been founded by the Agilolf dynasty, and which from that time took on new life. He showed genuine episcopal generosity in the liberal manner with which he met the views of the Emperor Otto II regarding the intended reduction in size of his diocese for the benefit of the new Diocese of Prague (975), to which St. Adalbert was appointed first bishop. As prince of the empire he performed his duties towards the emperor and the empire with the utmost scrupulousness and, like St. Ulrich, was one of the mainstays of the Ottonian policies. He took part in the various imperial Diets, and, in the autumn of 978, accompanied the Emperor Otto II on his campaign to Paris, and took part in the great Diet of Verona in June, 983.
St. Wolfgang withdrew as a hermit to a solitary spot, now the Lake of St. Wolfgang, apparently on account of a political dispute, but probably in the course of a journey of inspection to the monastery of Mendsee which was under the direction of the bishops of Ratisbon. He was discovered by a hunter and brought back to Ratisbon. While travelling on the Danube to Pöchlarn in Lower Austria, he fell ill at the village of Pupping, which is between Efferding and the market town of Aschach near Linz, and at his request was carried into the chapel of St. Othmar at Pupping, where he died. His body was taken up the Danube by his friends Count Aribo of Andechs and Archbishop Hartwich of Salzburg to Ratisbon, and was solemnly buried in the crypt of St. Emmeram. Many miracles were performed at his grave; in 1052 he was canonized. Soon after his death many churches chose him as their patron saint, and various towns were named after him. In Christian art he has been especially honoured by the great medieval Tyrolese painter, Michael Pacher (1430-1498), who created an imperishable memorial of him, the high altar of St. Wolfgang. In the panel pictures which are now exhibited in the Old Pinakothek at Munich are depicted in an artistic manner the chief events in the saint's life. The oldest portrait of St. Wolfgang is a miniature, painted about the year 1100 in the celebrated Evangeliary of St. Emmeram, now in the library of the castle cathedral at Cracow. A fine modern picture by Schwind is in the Schak Gallery at Munich. This painting represents the legend of Wolfgang forcing the devil to help him to build a church. In other paintings he is generally depicted in episcopal dress, an axe in the right hand and the crozier in the left, or as a hermit in the wilderness being discovered by a hunter. The axe refers to an event in the life of the saint. After having selected a solitary spot in the wilderness, he prayed and then threw his axe into the thicket; the spot on which the axe fell he regarded as the place where God intended he should build his cell. This axe is still shown in the little market town of St. Wolfgang which sprang up on the spot of the old cell. At the request of the Abbey of St. Emmeram, the life of St. Wolfgang was written by Othlo, a Benedictine monk of St. Emmeram about 1050. This life is especially important for the early medieval history both of the Church and of civilization in Bavaria and Austria, and it forms the basis of all later accounts of the saint. The oldest and best manuscript of this "Life" is in the library of the Abbey of Maria Einsiedeln in Switzerland (manuscript No. 322), and has been printed with critical notes in "Mon. Germ. His.: Script.", IV, 524-542. It has also been printed in, "Acta SS.", II November, (Brussels, 1894), 529-537; "Acta SS. O. S. Ben.", V, 812-833; and in P.L., CXLVI, 395-422.
ued to feed and defend his flock until it pleased the Supreme Pastor to recompense his fidelity and labors.