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Pope Francis offers advice on preparing for confession during Lent

February 27th, 2015 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — As Catholics are encouraged to make going to confession a significant part of their lives during Lent, Pope Francis offered some quick tips to help people prepare for the sacrament of penance.

After a brief explanation of why people should go to confession, “because we are all sinners,” the pope listed 30 key questions to reflect on as part of making an examination of conscience and being able to “confess well.”

Pope Francis hears confession from a man during a penitential liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican last year. He recently offered tips on how to prepare for confession. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters) (March 31, 2014

Pope Francis hears confession from a man during a penitential liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican last year. He recently offered tips on how to prepare for confession. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters) (March 31, 2014

The guide is part of a 28-page booklet in Italian released by the Vatican publishing house. Pope Francis had 50,000 free copies distributed to people attending his Angelus address Feb. 22, the first Sunday of Lent.

Titled “Safeguard your heart,” the booklet is meant to help the faithful become “courageous” and prepared to battle against evil and choose the good.

The booklet contains quick introductions to Catholic basics: it has the text of the Creed, a list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. It explains the seven sacraments and includes Pope Francis’ explanation of “lectio divina,” a prayerful way of reading Scripture in order to better hear “what the Lord wants to tell us in his word and to let us be transformed by his Spirit.”

The booklet’s title is based on a line from one of the pope’s morning Mass homilies in which he said Christians need to guard and protect their hearts, “just as you protect your home, with a lock.”

“How often do bad thoughts, bad intentions, jealousy, envy enter?” he asked. “Who opened the door? How did those things get in?”

The Oct. 10, 2014, homily, which is excerpted in the booklet, said the best way to guard one’s heart is with the daily practice of an “examination of conscience,” in which one quietly reviews what bad things one has done and what good things one has failed to do for God, one’s neighbor and oneself.”

The questions include:

• Do I only turn to God when I’m in need?

• Do I attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation?

• Do I begin and end the day with prayer?

• Am I embarrassed to show that I am a Christian?

• Do I rebel against God’s plan?

• Am I envious, hot-tempered, biased?

• Am I honest and fair with everyone

• In my marital and family relations, do I uphold morality as taught in the Gospels?

• Do I honor and respect my parents?

• Have I refused newly conceived life? Have I snuffed out the gift of life? Have I helped do so?

• Do I respect the environment?

• Am I part worldly and part believer?

• Do I overdo it with eating, drinking, smoking and amusements?

• Am I overly concerned about my physical well-being, my possessions?

• How do I use my time? Am I lazy?

• Do I want to be served?

• Do I dream of revenge, hold grudges?

• Am I meek, humble and a builder of peace?

Catholics should go to confession, the pope said, because everyone needs forgiveness for their sins, for the ways “we think and act contrary to the Gospel.”

“Whoever says he is without sin is a liar or is blind,” he wrote.

Confession is meant to be a sincere moment of conversion, an occasion to demonstrate trust in God’s willingness to forgive his children and to help them back on the path of following Jesus, Pope Francis wrote.


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Franciscan who was national pro-life advocate dies at 55


ST. PAUL, Minn. — Brother Paul O’Donnell, a Franciscan Brother of Peace and a nationally regarded pro-life advocate and speaker, died Feb. 20 at his community’s residence in St. Paul. He was 55.

Brother Paul died in his sleep, and his death was unexpected, said fellow Brother John Mary Kaspari. A funeral Mass was celebrated Feb. 27 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.

An early member of the St. Paul religious community, Brother Paul will be remembered for “his great love, devotion and humility; his love for each of the brothers and their way of life; and his love and selfless outreach to the most vulnerable, especially in the right-to-life movement, the unborn, aged and disabled,” Brother John Mary said.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Brother Paul professed his vows Oct. 4, 1987, five years after the community was founded. Before entering religious life, he was a seminarian in St. Paul at St. John Vianney College Seminary from 1978 to 1982, and St. Paul Seminary from 1982 to 1984.

His community’s guardian overall for more than 20 years, Brother Paul was a leader in its pro-life outreach, which included fighting for the lives of people needing specialized medical care, such as Terri Schiavo, who died in 2005 after a court ordered her feeding tube removed.

The brothers also offer hospitality to international survivors of torture at their residence, Queen of Peace friary, next to St. Columba Church in St. Paul; run a food shelf and minister to people with disabilities.

Prior to joining the Franciscan Brothers of Peace, Brother Paul and the community’s founder, Brother Michael Gaworski, founded in 1981 Pro-Life Action Ministries, a pro-life apostolate. Brother Paul served as its president.

“Brother Paul was a very profound, strong, outspoken pro-life leader, not just here in the Twin Cities but nationally,” said Brian Gibson, executive director of Pro-Life Action Ministries since 1986, when he replaced Brother Paul in that post. “His concern and care for the vulnerable, the innocent, the defenseless was amazing. He spoke on their behalf consistently and constantly throughout the 34 years I’ve known him.”

Brother Paul also was a founding board member of Human Life Alliance in Minneapolis and chairman of the board of the Pennsylvania-based Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network.



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Priest killed in Congo, bishop warns of ‘dangerous’ situation


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A diocesan priest in Congo was killed Feb. 25 in an apparent attempted robbery.

The victim, Father Jean-Paul Kakule Kyalembera, served at a parish in Mweso, situated in North Kivu province. The pastor of the same parish had escaped an attempted homicide last November, according to Fides, the news agency of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Bishop Theophile Kaboy Ruboneka of Goma told Fides the incident seems to have been an act of “gangsterism.”

“The priest was closing the church door when he saw one or more bandits who were hiding somewhere,” he said. “The criminals shot without hesitation, hitting him in the abdomen and in the head. Father Kakule died instantly.”

Three suspects were arrested and interrogated by police, said the bishop. The priest’s funeral was scheduled for Feb. 28 in Goma.

The bishop said the situation in his diocese “is very dangerous” with “numerous gangs that terrorize the population” and “too many weapons in circulation.”

Priests and religious, including women religious, have been among the victims of violence and extortion in North Kivu.

“They are threatened with death if they do not pay ransom,” said the bishop.

The whereabouts of three Assumptionist priests, who were kidnapped from another parish in North Kivu in 2012, remain unknown.


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Father Theodore Hesburgh, Notre Dame icon, national leader, dies — updated


NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Holy Cross Father Theodore M. Hesburgh, who led the University of Notre Dame through a period of dramatic growth during his 35 years as president and held sway with political and civil rights leaders, died Feb. 26 at the age of 97.

Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame, died Feb. 26 at age 97 in the Holy Cross House adjacent to the university in South Bend, Ind. He is pictured in a 2006 photo. (CNS photo/Matt Cashore, courtesy University of Notre Dame)

Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame, died Feb. 26 at age 97 in the Holy Cross House adjacent to the university in South Bend, Ind. He is pictured in a 2006 photo. (CNS photo/Matt Cashore, courtesy University of Notre Dame)

As the longest serving president of Notre Dame, from 1952 to 1987, Father Hesburgh built the university from a small college primarily known for its prowess on the football field into one of the nation’s premier higher education institutions.

In announcing the highly regarded priest’s death, the university did not cite a specific cause.


A funeral Mass for Father Hesburgh was to be celebrated the afternoon of March 4 at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus, with the Mass also streamed on the university’s homepage: www.nd.edu. Classes beginning after noon March 4 have been canceled.

Following the funeral a procession was planned from the basilica to the Holy Cross Community Cemetery for his burial. The university also planned to hold a tribute ceremony that evening in Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.


“We mourn today a great man and faithful priest who transformed the University of Notre Dame and touched the lives of many,” Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s current president, said in a statement. “With his leadership, charism and vision, he turned a relatively small Catholic college known for football into one of the nation’s great institutions for higher learning.

“In his historic service to the nation, the church and the world, he was a steadfast champion for human rights, the cause of peace and care for the poor,” he said.

Father Hesburgh was born May 25, 1917, in Syracuse, New York, to Anne Murphy Hesburgh and Theodore B. Hesburgh, an executive of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co.

He was educated at Notre Dame and Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained a priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1943 in Sacred Heart Church, today the basilica, on the Notre Dame campus. He received a doctorate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America in 1945.

After doctoral studies he joined the university faculty, teaching in the religion department, and served as chaplain to World War II veterans on campus. In 1949 he was appointed executive vice president of Notre Dame. He became the university’s 15th president in 1952.

Under his presidency, the university budget grew from $9.7 million to $176.6 million while the endowment expanded from $9 million to $350 million. Enrollment increased from 4,979 students to 9,600 and the faculty expanded from 389 to 950.

In 1967, he oversaw the transference of governance of the school from the Congregation of the Holy Cross to a two-tiered, mixed board of lay and religious trustees and fellows. The school also admitted women to undergraduate programs beginning in 1972.

Father Hesburgh also played an influential role in national and international affairs both during and after his presidency. He held 16 presidential appointments over the years, tackling major social issues including civil rights, immigration reform, peaceful uses of atomic energy, campus unrest, treatment of Vietnam draft evaders and development in the world’s poorest nations.

He was a charter member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights when it was created in 1957 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He chaired the body from 1969 until 1972 when President Richard Nixon dismissed him over his criticism of the administration’s civil rights record.

The Holy Cross priest also served on President Gerald R. Ford’s Clemency Board, which was responsible for deciding the fate of Vietnam offenders.

His work on the two commissions led to the creation of the Center for Civil & Human Rights at Notre Dame Law School.

During a tribute on Capitol Hill in 2013, congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle honored Father Hesburgh days before his 96th birthday. Vice President Joe Biden said during the gathering that he ran for public office at the age of 29 in 1972 because of Father Hesburgh’s passion for civil rights. “You’re one of the reasons I’ve been so proud to be a Catholic,” Biden told Father Hesburgh.

Other elected officials at the event praised Father Hesburgh as an inspiration for all people in public office.

Father Hesburgh served on the Overseas Development Council, a private organization supporting interests in developing nations, beginning in 1971 and chaired it until 1982. He led efforts to overcome mass starvation in Cambodia in 1979 and 1980. From 1979 to 1981, he chaired the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy, which issued recommendations which became the basis of congressional reform legislation several years later.

During the Cold War in the early 1980s, Father Hesburgh joined a private initiative which sought to unite internationally known scientists and world religious leaders in condemning nuclear weapons. He organized a 1982 meeting at the Vatican of 58 scientists from around the world who called for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Father Hesburgh served four popes, including three as the Vatican’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna from 1956 to 1970. Blessed Paul VI asked him to build the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem, which the university continues to operate. Father Hesburgh also served as head of the Vatican delegation attending the 20th anniversary of the United Nations’ human rights declaration in Teheran, Iran, in 1968. He also served as a member of the Holy See’s U.N. contingent in 1974.

In 1983, St. John Paul II appointed the Holy Cross priest to the Pontifical Council for Culture.

He also served as a trustee and chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation. He became ambassador to the 1979 U.N. Conference on Science and Technology for Development, the first time a priest served in a formal diplomatic role for the U.S. government.

In addition, Father Hesburgh served on several commissions and study groups in the field of education. He served as chairman of the International Federation of Catholic Universities from 1963 to 1970, leading a movement to redefine the nature and mission of contemporary Catholic education.

He holds 150 honorary degrees and was the first priest elected to the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, serving for two years, from 1994 to 1995, as president of the board. He also co-chaired the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics in its efforts to reform college sports, from 1990 to 2003.

Father Hesburgh wrote an autobiography, “God, Country and Notre Dame,” published in 1990 and three other books, including “The Human Imperative: A Challenge for the Year 2000,” “The Hesburgh Papers: Higher Values in Higher Education” and “Travels with Ted and Ned.”

He is survived by a brother, James. Three sisters preceded him in death.

The university said it was planning a tribute ceremony in Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center in the near future.


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Our Lenten Journey, February 27, 2015

February 27th, 2015 Posted in Uncategorized Tags:


Our Lenten Journey | February 27, 2015

“There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.”

― St. Augustine of Hippo


St. Augustine reminds us that we are all sinners, but also all capable of redemption.

Today’s first reading speaks of the redemption of sinners:

“If the wicked man turns away from all the sins he committed,

if he keeps all my statutes and does what is right and just,

he shall surely live, he shall not die.”








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Relic of True Cross at All Saints Cemetery on March 6

February 26th, 2015 Posted in Our Diocese, Uncategorized


WILMINGTON – All Saints Cemetery will hold afternoon Stations of the Cross on two Fridays during Lent, Catholic Cemeteries has announced. The dates are March 6 and 20, with a start time of 2 p.m.

Msgr. Joseph Rebman, pastor of St. Joseph on the Brandywine Parish, will lead the March 6 service, while Father James Smith, an associate pastor at St. Mary of the Assumption in Hockessin, will preside on March 20. The Stations will be in the Chapel of the Risen Christ.

On March 6, there also will be veneration of a true relic of Jesus’ cross, and on the 20th, the service will include a meditation of St. Alphonsus Liguori. The diocesan Pilgrimage Cross will be at All Saints until March 12. The cross, a replica of the original World Youth Day cross, has been to nearly every church and school in the diocese.

Light refreshments will be served after each service.

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Homeless man given funeral, burial in Vatican City


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A homeless man who faithfully attended Mass at a church inside Vatican City for decades was buried in a Vatican cemetery after it was discovered he had died and was left unidentified in a hospital morgue. Read more »

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Pope and Curia are on a Lenten retreat outside of Rome


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Lenten journey of conversion requires Christians to rediscover the “deepest truth” about themselves, cast off their masks and take on the courage to live truth, a prominent Carmelite priest told the pope and Vatican officials. Read more »

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Choosing through the grace of God to be Catholics


For The Dialog


Bishop Malooly welcomes some 200 people who will enter the Catholic Church fully during Easter Vigil


DOVER – Less than a year after she entered the Catholic Church, Jo Wardell returned to this year’s Rite of Election at Holy Cross Church with her mother, Sara Wardell; brother, Jason Wardell, and best friend, Sarah Shannon.

She held St. John the Beloved Parish’s Book of the Elect as Jason Wardell and Shannon signed it Feb. 21, declaring their intent to enter the church through baptism. Moments later she stood as her mother’s sponsor as the names of those who have been baptized Christian, but now desire to join the Catholic Church were called. Read more »

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Commentary: A message in blood: ISIS and the meaning of the Cross


Recently, the attention of the world was riveted to a deserted beach in northern Libya, where a group of 21 Coptic Christians were brutally beheaded by masked operatives of the ISIS movement. In the wake of the executions, ISIS released a gruesome video titled “A Message in Blood to the Nation of the Cross.”

I suppose that for the ISIS murderers the reference to “the Nation of the Cross” had little sense beyond a generic designation for Christianity. Sadly for most Christians, too, the cross has become little more than an anodyne, a harmless symbol, a pious decoration. I would like to take the awful event on that Libyan beach, as well as the ISIS message concerning it, as an occasion to reflect on the still startling distinctiveness of the cross. Read more »

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