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Prayers after ‘unspeakable terror’ in Las Vegas

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WASHINGTON — The nation has experienced “yet another night filled with unspeakable terror,” and “we need to pray and to take care of those who are suffering,” said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington.

In Las Vegas, a gunman identified by law enforcement officials as Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, was perched in a room on the 32nd floor of a hotel and unleashed a shower of bullets late Oct. 1 on an outdoor country music festival taking place below. The crowd at the event numbered more than 22,000.

People mourn during an interfaith memorial service Oct. 2 in Las Vegas for victims of a shooting spree directed at an outdoor country music festival late Oct. 1. A gunman perched in a room on the 32nd floor of a casino hotel unleashed a shower of bullets on the festival below, killing at least 59 people and wounding another 527. (CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)

He killed at least 59 people and wounded more than 500, making it by all accounts “the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history,” Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president, said in an Oct. 2 statement.

“My heart and my prayers, and those of my brother bishops and all the members of the church, go out to the victims of this tragedy and to the city of Las Vegas,” he said.

“Our hearts go out to everyone,” Bishop Joseph A. Pepe of Las Vegas said in a statement. “We are praying for those who have been injured, those who have lost their lives, for the medical personnel and first responders who, with bravery and self-sacrifice, have helped so many.

“We are also very heartened by the stories of all who helped each other in this time of crisis. As the Gospel reminds us, we are called to be modern-day good Samaritans,” he added. “We continue to pray for all in Las Vegas and around the world whose lives are shattered by the events of daily violence.”

He said an early evening interfaith prayer service was to take place at the city’s Cathedral of the Guardian Angels and he invited “our sisters and brothers around the world to join us in prayer for healing and for an end to violence.”

In a telegram to Bishop Pepe, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said Pope Francis was “deeply saddened to learn of the shooting in Las Vegas” and “sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected by this senseless tragedy.’

“He commends the efforts of the police and emergency service personnel, and offers the promise of his prayers for the injured and for all who have died, entrusting them to the merciful love of Almighty God,” the cardinal said.

The barrage of shots came from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino complex on the Las Vegas Strip. Once police officers determined where the gunshots were coming from, they stormed the room to find the suspect dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters.

The suspect later identified as Paddock was from Mesquite, Nevada, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, and was described in later reports as a retired accountant. News reports also said law enforcement believed the suspect was a “lone wolf” in planning and carrying out the attack.

In his statement, Cardinal DiNardo said: “At this time, we need to pray and to take care of those who are suffering. In the end, the only response is to do good, for no matter what the darkness, it will never overcome the light. May the Lord of all gentleness surround all those who are suffering from this evil, and for those who have been killed we pray, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.”

Catholic bishops and other Catholic leaders around the country issued statements expressing sadness at the horrific developments in Las Vegas, offering prayers for the victims and praising first responders, volunteers and bystanders for their efforts at the scene.

“Once again we must reach out in shock and horror to comfort the victims of a mass shooting in our country,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago.

“We reaffirm our commitment to nonviolence and to addressing the causes of such tragedies. At this time we come together in prayer and also in resolve to change a culture that has allowed such events to become commonplace,” he said. “We must not become numb to these mass shootings or to the deadly violence that occurs on our streets month in and month out.”

He called for better access to mental health care and “stronger, sensible gun control laws.”

“We pray that there comes a day when the senseless violence that has plagued the nation for so long ends for good,” said Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame. The bells of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus were to ring in the afternoon for all those affected by the Las Vegas tragedy.

The Catholic University of America in Washington offered prayers and support for the shooting victims. It also announced campus counselors and campus ministry staff were available to students needing help dealing with the deadly events, and said the employee assistance program was available to faculty and staff for the same purpose.

“As a community of faith, our university offers its prayers for the victims and their families, the first responders, and the health care workers who are caring for the injured,” said John Garvey, the university’s president. He added, “I ask that we meet this moment by cultivating peace with our words and deeds in our own community.”

The Archdiocese of Detroit held a noon service at St. Aloysius Church to pray for the victims of the shooting, their families and all affected, and also to pray “for an end to such devastating violence in our country and around the world.”

“Violence has once again horrified us as a nation and drawn us together in sorrow. All of us, people of faith as well as those with no particular religious affiliation, are stunned by the tragic, senseless, and incomprehensible loss of life in Las Vegas,” said Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory.

“Jesus is weeping with us and for us,” said Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik. “It is time for us as a nation to require at least as much from those purchasing guns as we expect from those making application for a driver’s license. Public safety must always come first.”

He called on lawmakers “to make it far more difficult for those with dangerously impaired moral reasoning, criminals and terrorists to make their point with a gun” and, like Cardinal Cupich, urged better access to mental health care “for those who may be prone to violence.”

“Join with me in prayer that we as a nation will seek to build a society in which the right to life is the standard against which all other rights are measured,” he said.

“I pray for the end of the violence and hatred in our nation, and I continue to pray that we follow the truth given to us in Psalms, that we should always trust in Jesus,” said Bishop Richard F. Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Bishop Edward C. Malesic of Greensburg, Pa., noted the “tragic irony” that the mass shooting had taken place on Respect Life Sunday and the beginning of the Catholic Church’s observance of Respect Life Month.

“We can never become numbed to the seemingly endless stream of outrageous crimes that show a lack of respect for our fellow human beings,” the bishop said. “We continue to teach and proclaim that every human person is created in God’s image and has the right to life. … We will continue to pray that the light of God’s love will reach into the darkest places in our nation and our world.”

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Have St. Jude relic, will travel

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Have you ever wanted to get up close and personal with one of the 12 Apostles?

Well, all you have to do is ask and St. Jude, or part of him anyway, will come to you.

This silver reliquary of St. Jude the Apostle is seen in an undated photo at the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus in Chicago. The reliquary contains bones from the forearm of St. Jude. (CNS photo/Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus)

This silver reliquary of St. Jude the Apostle is seen in an undated photo at the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus in Chicago. The reliquary contains bones from the forearm of St. Jude. (CNS photo/Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus)

That’s exactly what St. Jude the Apostle Parish in Oshkosh did. They contacted the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus in Chicago, and the arm relic of St. Jude the Apostle came to them March 21, brought by Dominican Father Michail Ford, the shrine’s director. Just as he did for Blessed Sacrament Parish in Madison last July.

“We heard about that (visit to Madison),” said Rob Saley, who handles adult faith formation at St. Jude Parish. “We were very interested, because St. Jude is our patron here. I got in touch with (Father Mike) at the shrine.” And that’s how the March 21 visit was arranged.

There was an evening Mass, along with St. Jude devotions and a special blessing with the oil of St. Jude.

Since 1949, the St. Jude shrine at Chicago’s St. Pius V Church, has been the home of the relic of St. Jude, one of the Twelve Apostles. It is believed to be the largest relic of St. Jude outside of Rome.

The relic bone from the forearm of St. Jude, encased in a silver reliquary, was for centuries located in Armenia in the care of the Dominicans. As religious turmoil increased in the area, the Dominicans left the area, taking the relic with them, first to Turkey. Eventually, they ended up in Turin, Italy, in the 18th century.

Tradition says that St. Jude was martyred in Syria. His remains were later moved to Rome and today, most of his body rests in a tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica along with another apostle, St. Simon the Zealot. In the Western church, the two share a feast day Oct. 28. Among the Eastern churches, St. Jude’s feast is June 19.

In 1949, the Dominican Province of St. Peter Martyr in Turin gifted the arm relic to the Dominican Province of St. Albert the Great (the Dominican central province of the United States). The relic was presented to St. Pius V Parish on the 20th anniversary of the founding of its shrine devoted to this patron saint of the impossible or desperate causes. The Chicago shrine was founded in 1929, after the stock market crash that started what became known as the Great Depression.

Into the 1960s, devotions to St. Jude were popular and the Chicago shrine had many Masses and prayer services. However, Father Ford noted, the saint’s popularity has since declined.

“So we decided to help people learn about them firsthand,” he told The Compass, newspaper of the Diocese of Green Bay. “In the past decade or so, we have started taking the relic on the road, so to speak. It occurred to one of my predecessors, a few years back, that the relic is simply too great a treasure and gift of the church to keep it locked away at St. Pius V in Chicago.”

Father Ford calls traveling with the relic :a page from the apostles; original plan: Take Jesus’ message of hope to the people.”

The Dominican priest is the saint’s official travel companion and he takes the relic on the road seven to eight times a year. “Wherever people want us to go, we’ll go,” he said.

Father Ford admits that, at first, “it was nerve-racking” to travel with such a prominent relic of a saint. And even now “I won’t let the case out of my sight,” he added.

That relic case is specially made, including inner foam molded to fit the reliquary — which is shaped like a right arm and hand. (Arm reliquaries were popular for a time — and are often of the right arm because that would be the one used to make blessings when the saint was on earth.) In the St. Jude reliquary, parts of the bone are visible. The case is crush-resistant and water-tight.

Traveling through the airports can be amusing for the priest, especially the X-ray machines.

“They look at it, and don’t know what to make of it,” Father Ford said. “They move (the conveyor belt) forward, back it up and look at again.”

Eventually, he hears a call: “Supervisor!”

However, once everything is explained, the priest often finds a welcome reception and even a chance to evangelize. “Almost all the time,” he said, “I hear them say, ‘That’s the coolest thing that’s ever been through my station.’”

Father Ford hears stories of healing as he travels with St. Jude’s relic. One happened in January 2016, during a visit to California’s Simi Valley. A woman had come all the way from Seattle to get some of the oil of St. Jude for her mother-in-law, who was battling cancer. The woman blessed her mother-in-law with the oil. Father Ford later heard from the woman that her mother’s blood-cell count reversed itself for the better after receiving the oil.

But Father Ford’s favorite story came when he met the late Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago at the St. Jude’s shrine’s 75th anniversary in 2004. The cardinal said that he remembered, as a child, his own mother, Julia, bringing him to the Chicago shrine. Cardinal George had suffered from polio as a child and his mother would also take home the vials of St. Jude oil and “slather it on” the boy’s legs.

“Cardinal George was very precise in his language,” Father Ford recalled. “He said, ‘I won’t say a miracle happened, but at a time when many people died from polio, I only came away with a limp.’”

The oil of St. Jude, Father Ford explained, is oil blessed with the relic, “almost the same way as one uses the St. Blaise blessing of the throat.”

 

Note: Dominican Father Michail Ford will bring the St. Jude relic to any parish that requests a visit. He also presents parish missions. More information is available at https://the-shrine.org.

by Patricia Kasten, associate editor of The Compass, newspaper of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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U.S. bishops have varied stances on offering sanctuary to immigrants facing deportation

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WASHINGTON — The bishop of Sacramento, California, said Catholic churches in the diocese could offer sanctuary to immigrants facing deportation, while the archbishop of Washington cautioned that offering sanctuary does not legally guarantee protection if federal agents come calling.

Victoria Daza, a native of Peru and an immigrants' rights activist, holds her daughter during a rally in support of immigrants in Massapequa Park, N.Y., Feb. 24. The demonstration was held outside Republican Rep. Peter King's district office in an effort to urge the congressman to help protect unauthorized immigrants who currently have reprieve from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Victoria Daza, a native of Peru and an immigrants’ rights activist, holds her daughter during a rally in support of immigrants in Massapequa Park, N.Y., Feb. 24. The demonstration was held outside Republican Rep. Peter King’s district office in an effort to urge the congressman to help protect unauthorized immigrants who currently have reprieve from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento said his concern for immigrants revolved around the possibility of an order for mass deportation from President Donald Trump’s administration. He told The Sacramento Bee March 1 that offering protection to people would be something local parishioners could consider if such an order was issued.

“We have to be ready to respond if and when that happens,” he said.

Bishop Soto also said he hoped that “all the hysteria” in the country over unauthorized immigrants would lead to comprehensive immigration reform, which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has advocated for years.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington said in a March 2 interview with editors at The Washington Post that while the Catholic Church’s values mandate opposition to deportation of people already living in the United States, there is no certainty that immigrants staying on church grounds would avoid being arrested and eventually sent to their home country.

“When we use the word sanctuary,” Cardinal Wuerl said, “we have to be very careful that we’re not holding out false hope. We wouldn’t want to say, ‘Stay here, we’ll protect you.’”

Although a parish might offer sanctuary, it does not obligate federal agents to respect church property boundaries, he said.

“With separation of church and state, the church really does not have the right to say, ‘You come in this building and the law doesn’t apply to you.’ But we do want to say we’ll be a voice for you,” the cardinal explained.

Cardinal Wuerl said that providing food and legal representation for immigrants was among the Washington archdiocese’s top priorities.

Elsewhere, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago told priests and school officials in the archdiocese not to allow federal immigration agents onto church property without a warrant in a Feb. 28 letter.

He asked parish and school officials to immediately call diocesan attorneys if agents appear at their door.

At the same time, Cardinal Cupich wrote that he will not declare Catholic churches as sanctuary for immigrants. The letter also restated archdiocesan policy that forbids anyone other than assigned priests to live in a rectory or other church facility without written permission of the appropriate regional vicar.

The situation of immigrants seems to have divided the country’s Catholics. The majority of Catholics voted for Trump, according to polling data. However, bishops and leaders of Catholic nonprofit organizations have decried Trump administration policies regarding the suspension of refugee admissions to the U.S. and stricter enforcement of immigration laws even on people in the country for years.

Bishop Soto in his interview pointed to efforts in the 1980s by Catholic and Protestant churches to provide sanctuary for Guatemalans and Salvadorans who fled civil wars in their homelands for safety in the U.S. despite not being legally allowed in the country.

The Sacramento diocese provides services to immigrants and refugees through its Diocesan Immigrant Support Network, which includes Bishop Soto, Catholic Charities, parishes, legal experts and community organizations.

About 60,000 immigrants who are not authorized to be in the U.S. live in the 20 counties of the diocese, according to a diocesan official.

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Iraqi Christians in U.S. pray to reunite with family at Christmas

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Catholic News Service

CHICAGO — On a recent overcast Sunday morning in northwest Chicago, the pews of the small wood-paneled St. Ephrem Chaldean Catholic Church were filled to overflowing. Among the rows of Massgoers sat Firaz Rassam and her sisters.

After the Mass, Rassam and her sister, Victoria Rassam, said they “pray, pray that (Victoria’s) children would be able to get out (of northern Iraq) in time” before any major Islamic State attack or any other conflict reaches their neighborhood in Ankawa, a Christian hub in the Kurdish region. Firaz Rassam, who arrived in Chicago in September, said this year she would not be able to celebrate Christmas “with the type of happiness that (her family) normally would celebrate.”

Fairuz Rassam, a long-time Chicago resident, sent for her Iraqi sisters, Firaz and Victoria, so they could escape the conflict in Iraq. They are seen at Mass Dec. 4 at St. Ephrem Chaldean Catholic Church in Chicago. (CNS photo/Simone Orendain)

Fairuz Rassam, a long-time Chicago resident, sent for her Iraqi sisters, Firaz and Victoria, so they could escape the conflict in Iraq. They are seen at Mass Dec. 4 at St. Ephrem Chaldean Catholic Church in Chicago. (CNS photo/Simone Orendain)

Speaking through their nephew who interpreted from their native dialect, an Aramaic derivative, Firaz Rassam, 44, said that she and her three children came ahead of her husband after her other sister, Fairuz Rassam, sent for her.

“The environment over there,” said Firaz Rassam, who used to be a librarian. “There’s no electricity. It’s dangerous. There’s no work. I want to have a better future for my kids.”

Victoria Rassam, 56, who migrated to Chicago two years ago, was still waiting for her family to come. She said all she could do was pray and that she was really hoping she would see her children again soon.

“This Christmas we will celebrate by going to midnight Mass and praying for them,” said Victoria Rassam.

Since the second Gulf War in 2003, oil-rich Iraq has been unstable with ethnic and religious conflicts that have given rise to various terror organizations, including the Islamic State group, which grew out of Saddam Hussein’s military, factions of al-Qaida and other groups. Many Christians migrated; others fled Islamic State and other terror organizations.

Deacon Hameed Shabila, a longtime Chicago resident who works at St. Ephrem, told CNS his siblings in the Baghdad area have not been able to attend midnight Mass for years because it is not safe. He said the churches are heavily guarded by armed forces after dark.

Deacon Shabila, who has asked that his siblings be allowed to come to the U.S., said it was also around Christmas time that one parishioner’s adult son was killed in Iraq 10 years ago. Shabila served as interpreter for the parishioner, Maria Yonan.

Yonan said she fled Iraq with her daughter-in-law and two grandsons immediately after her son was killed when he was celebrating on New Year’s. The 77-year old widow was hesitant to speak with CNS and feared for her grandsons’ safety as she described how a group she called terrorists attacked her son and his friends.

Yonan and her daughter-in-law spent a couple of years as refugees in Syria, trying to get to Australia, where her daughter-in-law has family. But the wait was too long and they decided to come to the U.S., which was accepting refugees. Her daughter also came to the U.S. as a refugee and is living in California, but one other daughter stayed behind with her own family.

Yonan, who recently became a U.S. citizen and lives in low-income housing, said at Christmas she likes to go to midnight Mass at St. Ephrem, where she can be with people who speak her language. She has tried to keep up some of the same Christmas traditions that her family kept in Iraq.

Yonan said every Christmas her grandsons visit and she makes special Christmas candy called klecha, a treat that “makes people happy” and signifies a joyful time. But this year, Yonan said she was not planning to make the candies because she is in mourning after the Nov. 25 death of her son-in-law, who suffered a heart attack in Baghdad.

Hazim Maryaqo and his family also will not be celebrating Christmas this year because of the death from illness of his brother in Baghdad. Maryaqo, 49, arrived in the Detroit area Oct. 4 with his pregnant wife and three children, all younger than 8.

In a phone interview with CNS, he said through an interpreter that when the family was living as refugees in Turkey during the two years before coming to the U.S., “There was no (Christmas) celebration.”

“The three or four (Christian) families that were around us, they came to our house, we went to their house. That was as simple as we could do,” said Maryaqo, who was threatened with death at his family pastry shop in central Baghdad for selling certain cakes with liqueur in them.

Maryaqo said now that he is in Michigan, his family tries to go to Mass often, but sometimes trying to find transportation is tough. He said he is hoping to find work as a pastry chef so that the family can have some stability and get to church more regularly. But he also expressed anxiety about the safety of his elderly father and siblings left behind in Baghdad.

“I will never go back to Iraq, but I hope I can bring my family here,” he said.

Going to Christmas midnight Mass was something that Eevyan Hanoon said she longed for when she lived with her husband and toddler for three years at a refugee camp in Turkey. She said that she made klecha and tried to make the most of the season. But something was lacking.

“The difference at Christmastime was the Eucharist. I missed taking the Eucharist. I was with two church choirs in Mosul (Iraq),” said Hanoon, 28. “This is the most important thing in our life. We have not missed a single Sunday” since arriving in Michigan in September.

In Chicago, the Rassam sisters’ nephew, Rakan Kunda, said even if his own family has been living in the U.S. for two decades, they “always remember … family back home” at Christmastime.

“We think about them,” said Kunda, 26. “We pray for them but there’s nothing we can do at this point. Until all this is over.”

By Simone Orendain

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Nation, world need gifts Latinos have to offer, says Archbishop Gomez

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Catholic News Service

CHICAGO — Latino Catholics have many gifts and values to benefit the church and society and the time is now to embrace them and share them.

“America needs our gifts. Our world needs our gifts,” said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, at the opening of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders annual conference held Aug. 18-21 in downtown Chicago. Read more »

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Patience hailed as a virtue at African National Eucharistic Congress

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Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — Practicing patience can be a great virtue, said Auxiliary Bishop Joseph N. Perry of Chicago in his homily at the Aug. 7 closing Mass of the African National Eucharistic Congress in Washington.

“What greater school for patience is there than family life?” asked Bishop Perry, who is episcopal liaison to the African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the United States, one of the eucharistic congress’ sponsors. “Jesus calls us to embrace the gift.”

Mary Kiganda, right, and Carolyn Ohams, both from the Archdiocese of Washington, sing Aug. 5 during the opening Mass of the Third African National Eucharistic Congress at The Catholic University of America in Washington. The closing Mass of the congress was celebrated Aug. 7. (CNS photo/Leslie E. Kossoff)

Mary Kiganda, right, and Carolyn Ohams, both from the Archdiocese of Washington, sing Aug. 5 during the opening Mass of the Third African National Eucharistic Congress at The Catholic University of America in Washington. The closing Mass of the congress was celebrated Aug. 7. (CNS photo/Leslie E. Kossoff)

Bishop Perry described situations where patience can be a virtue in his homily at the Mass, celebrated in the crypt church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

One such situation: “Imagine for a moment you are stuck in traffic as others lag out of work,” Bishop Perry said. All that is visible, he added, is a “line of taillights.”

Next, he said, imagine there’s “someone between you and the exit you call home.” Upon encountering that person, Bishop Perry added, would you give that person a wave to allow them to travel safely to their destination, “or would you give them another kind of hand gesture?” he asked to laughter.

Another case likely to test one’s patience is being greeted at the other end of a phone call by a prerecorded voice saying, “Your call is very important to us. … Your call will be taken in the order in which it was received.”

Patience, the bishop noted, also can be diverted into irritation, anger and resentment, as he cited the situation of a man intentionally arriving early to wait outside a relative’s house to avoid her likely reproach for being late and then being forced to wait an hour before she traipses out of the house entirely oblivious to his having waited.

The Gospel of Luke from the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time proclaimed at the Mass included the parable of the servants waiting for their master to return home from the wedding feast. Bishop Perry said the servants did not know when the master would return, but they were happily expectant.

“Don’t miss the detail how Jesus described his heavenly Father” as the master in the parable, he said.

Bishop Perry also lauded the family structure in his homily. “The church looks to you, families, to be models of the larger family of God,” he said. “Thank you, families, for your faithful witness of marital love and family life.”

“I’m happy to see husbands and wives standing side by side to receive the Eucharist together,” Bishop Perry added. As food nourishes the body, “the holy Eucharist revives the soul,” he said.

The crypt church was filled to standing-room-only capacity. The vast majority in the congregation were Africans, although there was a smattering of curious or befuddled non-blacks who either stuck around for the two-hour-plus Mass or made their way to the shrine’s main church upstairs.

The music reflected the African continent’s culture as well. The opening processional, “We Are Marching in the Light of God,” was sung in other languages in addition to English. And the third Communion song, sung by a combined choir whose members were in ethnic dress and headdress, crescendoed in volume and intensity as it continued, eliciting shrieking and ululation from some in the assembly, which rose to give an ovation at its conclusion.

The Third African National Eucharistic Congress, held on the campus of The Catholic University of America, was sponsored by several partner organizations, including the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church and several other offices of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; the national shrine and Catholic University; the National Association of African Catholics in the United States; Trinity Washington University; the Knights of Columbus and Knights of St. John; the Catholic Health Association of the United States; and the St. John Paul II Shrine.

The African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the United States held its own meeting in advance of the eucharistic congress.

 

Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison.

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Pope taps Chicago archbishop to panel on naming new bishops

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has named Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich a member of the Congregation for Bishops, the office that advises the pope on the nomination of bishops around the world.

Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich . (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich . (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

Archbishop Cupich, 67, takes the place left vacant by U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, who turned 80 in mid-June and automatically ceded his membership.

The congregation is led by Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, its prefect. Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington also serves as a member.

In a statement from Chicago, Archbishop Cupich said: “I am humbled by the Holy Father’s trust and confidence in me. While my primary responsibility remains here in the Archdiocese of Chicago, I look forward to joining other members of the Congregation for Bishops to serve the pope and the church in this ministry.”

Nuncios, or Vatican ambassadors, around the world conduct the initial search for priests suitable for the office of bishop and forward their names to the congregation. Congregation members review the biographies of potential candidates and comments and recommendations collected by the nuncios before making their recommendations to the pope.

The congregation also advises the pope on the establishment of new dioceses or the consolidation of old ones; advises bishops’ conferences on their work; coordinates the joint activities of military ordinaries around the world; and organizes the “ad limina” visits that bishops regularly make to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses.

The congregation is tasked with supporting the work of bishops in their dioceses, a function regularly carried out with the review of reports prepared in conjunction with the “ad limina” visits. But it also is responsible for organizing apostolic visitations of dioceses where particular tensions or controversies have arisen.

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ABC News to air Pope Francis’ ‘virtual town hall’ with Americans on “20/20”

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WASHINGTON — Pope Francis held a “virtual town hall” with Catholics in Chicago, Los Angeles and McAllen, Texas, in advance of his Sept. 22-27 visit to the United States.

Pope Francis will appear on ABC's "World News Tonight," Aug. 31 and ond "20/20" in segments on a "virtual town hall the pope held with Americans in Chicago, Los Angels, and McAllen, Texas. (CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)

Pope Francis will appear Sept. 4 on ABC’s ” “20/20” in segments on a “virtual town hall the pope held with Americans in Chicago, Los Angels, and McAllen, Texas. (CNS photo/Ettore Ferrari, EPA)

The town hall was arranged by ABC News, which aired portions of the meeting during its “World News Tonight” program Aug. 31, with an hour-long version of its “20/20” newsmagazine called “Pope Francis & the People” airing 10-11 p.m. Sept. 4. ABC News said the event would also the event will be posted in its entirety in both English and Spanish on abcnews.com.

Pope Francis engaged via satellite with students at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, homeless men and women and those working with homeless people in Los Angeles, and members of a McAllen parish located near the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We were allowed inside the Vatican for an hour with Pope Francis, where he greeted us as he prepared for his trip,” said David Muir, “World News Tonight” anchor, in a 90-second “special report” that aired midday on ABC.

“He told me he’s ready, and he delivered a couple of messages to the American people before his historic visit, saying, ‘For me it is very important to meet with all of you, the citizens of the United States, who have your history, your culture, your virtues, your joys, your sadness, your problems, like everyone else. That’s why this trip is important, for me to draw close to you, in your path, your history,”’ Muir said of the pope.

Muir added, “He went on to say, ‘I’m praying for you all, and I ask you to please pray for me’”

The pope allowed us to visit so we could connect him with people in other parts of the country where he won’t be able to visit,” Muir said. “He took questions and heard stories of struggle. He also spoke in English in some of his answers, at one point asking a teenager in Chicago fighting adversity to please sing for him. And she did.” Pope Francis, a native Spanish speaker, will celebrate Mass in Spanish during his U.S. visit.

“Today was an unforgettable day in the 20-year history of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School,” said a tweet from the school after the town hall ended. Chris Meyer, the school’s director of technology, tweeted, “A glorious morning at Cristo Rey Chicago,” advising in a separate tweet there would be “powerful stories” on the Sept. 4 broadcast.

“The pope did not shy away from some key issues,” Muir added, although he did not disclose what issues they were, inviting viewers to watch “World News Tonight” and the “20/20” installment.

 

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Cardinal George’s funeral: Consolation is hope of the Resurrection, says archbishop

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CHICAGO — Hundreds of priests and seminarians from the Archdiocese of Chicago gathered in Holy Name Cathedral April 21 for evening prayer during the visitation for the Cardinal Francis E. George.

Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich (right) looks on as Father Louis Lougen, superior general of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, blesses the body of Cardinal Francis E. George following the April 23 prayer vigil before his funeral Mass at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. Cardinal George, who retired as archbishop of Chicago in 2014, died April 17 after a long battle with cancer. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich (right) looks on as Father Louis Lougen, superior general of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, blesses the body of Cardinal Francis E. George following the April 23 prayer vigil before his funeral Mass at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. Cardinal George, who retired as archbishop of Chicago in 2014, died April 17 after a long battle with cancer. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

The service included sung psalms and canticles, with the men’s voices filling the cathedral, as well as Scripture readings and a homily from Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich.

Cardinal George, who retired as archbishop of Chicago in 2014, died April 17. Two days of public visitation and prayer vigils led up to his April 23 funeral Mass at the cathedral.

At the evening prayer service, Archbishop Cupich centered his homily on a phrase that is included throughout the Easter season in the Liturgy of the Hours evening prayer: “Stay with us Lord, for evening draws near.”

Those words, spoken by the disciples when they were downcast and grieving, offer a reminder that the greatest works of God — creation, the cross and Christ’s resurrection — were accomplished in darkness, and that Cardinal George is now beginning to comprehend the meaning of God’s works, Archbishop Cupich said.

That is the focus of the rites surrounding Catholic funerals, the archbishop said.

While there have been many laudatory words offered about Cardinal George, about his scholarship and razor-sharp intellect, his leadership, his tenacity and courage, that is not what Catholics focus on when someone dies.

“Catholic tradition hesitates to let the past dominate these days of funeral liturgies,” he said. “It considers such an approach shortsighted, unequal to the totally other reality taking place. Our funerals are not celebrations of one’s life, a nostalgic return to past glories. Rather, they focus on the risen Christ presently active in our midst, whose power at work in us is able to accomplish far more than we ask and far more that we can imagine.”

It is the hope of the Resurrection that consoles those who grieve and mourn, he said.

“The consolation offered to us in these days is not limited to the warm support and friendship we offer each other, as important and meaningful as that is,” Archbishop Cupich said. “Rather, our consolation comes in knowing that we participate and contribute to Christ’s redeeming work, which we pray is taking place for the cardinal.”

The archbishop offered special condolences Cardinal George’s sister, Margaret, and the rest of his family, and also to Father Dan Flens, the cardinal’s longtime priest-secretary who remained with him through his final illness.

“Dan, your steady, devoted and unconditional care for the cardinal not only in these last days, but throughout the years of service as his secretary, inspire us now to follow your good example by offering our prayerful support for Cardinal George,” Archbishop Cupich said. “Repeatedly in his final days, the cardinal told me and others that you made possible his ministry during his years of service here.”

Those words drew an extended standing ovation from the congregation.

At the end of his homily, the archbishop also offered condolence to those who gathered to pray.

“I want you, my brother priests and our seminarians, to know that I grieve his loss with you,” he said. “Your experience with him was much deeper and longer than mine, but I can tell you that during the last months of his life and my first months as archbishop, he was unfailingly supportive to me, impressing upon me at this moment how he must have been the same for you over these past 17 years. So together in our grieving, we pray, ‘Stay with us Lord, for evening draws near.’”

After the service, several priests said they were touched by the recognition of Father Flens and of retired Auxiliary Bishop Raymond E. Goedert, who lived in the cardinal’s residence for Cardinal George’s entire episcopacy and offered the closing prayer at the service. Bishop Goedert was vicar general when Cardinal Joseph Bernardin died in November 1996. Bishop Goedert told news media he was one of those present at the cardinal’s bedside when he died. He administered last rites to the cardinal.

“I remember Ray Goedert giving the closing prayer for Cardinal Bernardin and tearing up, and here he is almost 18 years later doing the same thing for Cardinal George,” said Father Greg Sakowicz. “It went fast.”

— By Michelle Martin

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Cardinal George says he’s receiving palliative care

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Catholic News Service

CHICAGO — Doctors have exhausted all options in Cardinal Francis E. George’s cancer treatment and have moved on to palliative care.

The cardinal shared that information with news media during a Jan. 30 news conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago, following a luncheon where he received the Knights of Columbus’ highest honor, the Gaudium et Spes Award.

Cardinal Francis E. George, retired archbishop of Chicago, speaks to media Jan. 30 in Chicago after receiving the Gaudium et Spes Award from Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.  (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

Cardinal Francis E. George, retired archbishop of Chicago, speaks to media Jan. 30 in Chicago after receiving the Gaudium et Spes Award from Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

“They’ve run out of tricks in the bag, if you like,” said Cardinal George, 78, Chicago’s retired archbishop.

He’s doing physical therapy because his muscles atrophied during chemotherapy, when he was exhausted and unable to get around much, he said. That situation is typical when undergoing chemotherapy, and especially with polio survivors, such as himself, because their muscles are overworked, he said.

“But basically, I’m in the hands of God, as we all are in some fashion,” he said, adding that he hopes to eventually get off the crutches he’s been using since October.

“In some ways, this particular disease, in my case, has not been following the usual pattern in the past. It probably won’t follow the usual pattern in the future,” the cardinal told reporters.

Like anyone with a terminal illness, he has good days and bad days. If he has enough stamina, the cardinal said, he planned to attend the consistory of cardinals in mid-February, but hadn’t made up his mind.

“Rome is not an easy city for people who are disabled in the best of times,” Cardinal George said.

Since his retirement last November, he has been keeping regular appointments and hearing confessions at Holy Name Cathedral on Thursdays when he’s available. Hearing confessions was one of the things he said he looked forward to most in retirement.

Prior to the news conference, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson presented Cardinal George with the Gaudium et Spes Award. The award was established in 1992 and is named for the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, or “Gaudium et Spes.”

Blessed Teresa of Kolkata was its first recipient. Others include Cardinal John O’Connor of New York and L’Arche founder Jean Vanier.

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, who is supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, read the award’s citation, which said in part: “Both in his brilliant speeches, homilies, letters and books, and in the brave witness to the faith that he has shown to the world — in sickness and in health — Cardinal George has proven over and over again one of the leading voices in the Catholic Church in the United States.”

The award comes with a $100,000 gift. Cardinal George said he was giving $60,000 of it to the archdiocese’s “To Teach Who Christ Is” campaign scholarship fund, which benefits children in Catholic schools. The remaining $40,000 will be divided and donated to various charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Cardinal George has been a member of the Knights since 1991 and has twice delivered the keynote at the order’s national convention.

In his remarks upon receiving the award, Cardinal George told those gathered: “This award is for you as well as it is for me because you share the joys and the hopes, the anxieties and the griefs of all of the people whom you know and all of the people whom you don’t know but you know you are called to love because God is love,” he said. “And we are made in his image and likeness.”

 

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