Archives for July 2016

NFPC This Week, #670 – 7/24-7/30/2016

Of Note This Week –

Comboni missionary to celebrate 50 years of priesthood in a unique way

Father David Baltz, MCCJ has traveled over 50,000 miles on his bike as a missionary in Uganda. The 75 year-old St. Louis native will celebrate 50 years of ordination as a priest next year.  Transportation is not an issue with him, according to a profile in the St. Louis Review (May 30-June 5, 2016), the St. Louis archdiocesan newspaper. His bike is reliable, he says.

Fr. Baltz spent the first five years after ordination as vice-rector in a seminary in Michigan and left for Africa in 1975. His diocese is the Diocese of Arua, in the northwest corner of Uganda, in the West Nile region. It has 20,000 Catholics and 11 chapels.

At the end of January Father Baltz made a 42-mile bike pilgrimage to his former mission of Lodonga. All the religious men and women of the Diocese of Arua gathered there to celebrate the closing of the Year of Consecrated Life, plus the beginning of the Year of Mercy, with the main door of the Basilica of Mary designated as the Holy Door for the jubilee year. He biked through Maracha, his first parish in Africa, where he started missionary work 41 years ago.

According to the profile since his arrival thirteen Comboni missionaries have been killed, many after the turbulent rule of Idi Amin in the 1970s and in an insurgency in the northern region. His mission was overrun and he fled with the people to Congo. During three years of ministry among refugees, he experienced the value of solidarity with the poor and the meaning of presence. He counts that as the peak experience of his ministry.

For the entire profile, click here.

Pope Francis visits Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp

Photo courtesy Filippo Monteforte/Pool, AP/via Crux

Photo courtesy Filippo Monteforte/Pool, AP/via Crux

On Friday, July 29, Pope Francis visited the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, near the town now called Oswiecim, Poland, once German-occupied territory. Historians say that over 4 million people perished in the camps including an estimated ninety percent of Poland’s nearly 3.5 million Jews.  The National Catholic Reporter (July 29, 2016 states the pope met individually with about a dozen survivors of the camps, taking several moments with each and offering an embrace and kisses on the cheeks. The last survivor to greet Francis gave him a lit candle that he then placed inside a lamp set near the Auschwitz wall.

He then went to the cell where martyr St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan held at the camp who offered himself in place of another person chosen to die, was starved for weeks before he was killed by lethal injection.

The report notes that the pope remained silent during most of the two-hour visit to the camp about 30 miles north of Krakow where he is attending World Youth day.

In his only words during his time at the camp, Pope Francis wrote in the museum’s commemorative book in Spanish, “Lord, have mercy on your people. Lord, forgiveness for so much cruelty.”

For the NCR report, click here.

For the Zenit News Agency (July 29, 2016) report, click here.

For a 2nd Zenit News Agency report (July 29, 2016), click here.

For a report by John Allen, Jr., editor of Crux, click here.

SLIconnect presents a “free” webinar, Shepherding in Tragic Times: Caring for Self and Others in Trauma, August 31, 1:00-2:00 pm EDT

RossettiSLIconnect, the education resource of St. Luke Institute, presents a free webinar, Shepherding in Tragic Times: Caring for Self and Others in Trauma.

When – Wednesday, Aug. 31, 1:00-2:00 pm EDT.

Cost – “Free”

Presenter – Monsignor Stephen J. Rossetti explores the psychological and spiritual impact of trauma on individuals and faith communities. Learn pastoral care strategies for self and others.

For more information and a link to register, click here.

The Challenge of Priestless Parishes: Learning from Latin America

Priestless-croppedThe Challenge of Priestless Parishes: Learning from Latin America, edited by Father Edward L. Cleary, OP with Father David T. Orique, OP is a very helpful volume that places the current priest shortage in a context. The volume is a collection of six chapters by six contributors who write on different aspects of the priest shortage in Latin America and how it was dealt with. As Father Robert Schreiter, CPPS points out in the Introduction, although the Global South has two-thirds of the Catholic population, the Global North has two-thirds of its priests. How to deal with this problem? Fr. Schreiter goes on to ask: “[Is] this an opportunity to reset the whole picture and ask fundamental questions about priesthood, the sacraments, the laity, and engagement in the Church altogether?” The six chapters and authors:

  1. Puerto Rico: Lay Preachers Who Preserved Catholicism, Edward L. Cleary, OP
  2. Argentina: Praying Women Ministers and Keepers of the Faith, Cynthia Folquer, OP
  3. Guatemala: Responding to the Scarcity of Priests, Bruce J. Calder
  4. Honduras: Lay Delegates of the Word, Brian J. Pierce, OP
  5. Brazil: The Right of Communities to a Full Christian Life, Nadir Rodrigues da Silva, OP
  6. Priestless Parishes: From Past Responses to Future Solutions, David Orique, OP.

Available for $22.95 from Paulist Press, 997 Macarthur Blvd., Mahwah, NJ 07430. Tel: (800) 218-1903. Fax: (800) 836-3136. E-mail: [email protected]. Web site:

The End of the Island: Finding Life in the Movements of Human Suffering, Pain, and Loss

End_Island-croppedIn The End of the Island: Finding Life in the Movements of Human Suffering, Pain, and Loss, author Jeffrey C. Tucker asks the existential questions: Why does human suffering exist and persist? What is its purpose? Why can’t we escape it? Why do others that I love so much get sick and die? And what about me? In responding to these questions Tucker offers ways to challenge readers’ existing beliefs and theologies, while offering a healthier and more helpful approach to viewing ourselves, faith, and others in the face of suffering. He accomplishes this in a unique way by using narrative poetry, prose, and even humor where it fits. He engages readers by wrapping wisdom within the story of an old man on an island who is seeking answers to his pain and loss. Available for the special web price of $17.60 from Resource Publications, an imprint of Wipf & Stock Publishers, 199 W. 8th Ave., Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401. (541) 344-1528. Fax: (541) 344-1506. E-mail: [email protected]. Web site:

Reports from World Youth Day – Krakow, July 27-31, 2016

WYD_2016We are including links to a variety of reports on Pope Francis’ visit to World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland.

Pope thanks Poles for clinging to faith in difficult times (Religion News Service, July 28, 2016), click here.

Young pilgrims say they hope to find joy as missionaries of mercy (Catholic News Service, July 28, 2016), click here.

Zenit News Agency has links to most of Pope Francis’ addresses, and homilies, including his inflight press conference on the journey from Rome to Krakow, go to:

Brownsville Bishop Daniel Flores reflects on immigration, abortion, and politics

In an interview with Crux, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Tex. talks about what it’s like to be bishop of a poor, culturally diverse, and young diocese in the United States. The average age is 26.

In the beginning of the interview Bishop Flores says, “… mass deportation policies represent “formal cooperation with an intrinsic evil – not unlike driving someone to an abortion clinic.”

In the case particularly of Central American mothers and children, and deportations into some parts of Mexico, “we are dealing with placing them in proximate danger of death.”

Bishop Flores then goes on to note the distinctions between the two major political parties in dealing with immigration and abortion. He states, “Both the Republican deportation proposal and the Democrats’ abortion policies mean that ‘in diverse ways each [party] promotes a power structure that leaves the vulnerable and defenseless aside.’”

But in an election cycle in which many American Catholics are turned off the political process by the choice of candidates, Flores believes they still need to participate and vote – even if only in state or local races.

Catholicism, he says, “is always realistic about the political dynamic in history. We neither expect it to usher in the eschaton, nor do we consider it useless. We try to work with it, participate in it, promote its progress, and oppose proposals that harm the human good.”

For the entire Crux interview, click here.

Council Notes from Green Bay (June 2016)

The June meeting of the Green Bay Council began with a discussion of whether priests’ vacations follow the calendar or fiscal year. Along the same lines, minutes note suggestions for when vacation or an unforeseen illness may alter a parish Mass schedule. Cellphone numbers were exchanged among Council members. Instructions are sent to parishes annually on what to do if a priest is sick. A motion for the vacation calendar to follow the fiscal year will be brought up at a future meeting.

– Feedback was discussed regarding how best to conduct Discipleship Seminars. Various group methods were suggested.

– The new diocesan mission and vision statement will be announced August 2

– An extensive discussion took place on the Parish Survey. A research group at St. Norbert College will create the survey. The survey instrument should be ready for review at the August meeting.

– A Blue Ribbon Committee will be formed to look at the operation of Grellinger Hall, an independent living facility for retired priests. One member opined that budget-wise the facility can no longer be sustained the way it is.

– Members discussed the new provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and how it will affect employees and overtime. The act will go into effect December 1.

– A Milwaukee-based consulting group is studying Catholic Schools and how they are organized.

– Finally, the IT Steering Committee is restructuring the IT department. The goal is to address the needs of the curia and parishes.

85 year-old priest murdered by ISIS in France

The slain priest, Father Jacques Hamel, 85 was one of four hostages taken by the attackers, according to several Catholic news outlets. According to a report by Religion News Service (July 26, 2016), one of the other hostages was reportedly in critical condition and both assailants were reportedly killed by security forces. The attack took place in Saint –Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen in Northern France during morning Mass.

According to Catholic News Service (July 27, 2016), two men, armed with knives, entered the church during Mass. They reportedly slit the throat of Father Hamel. The police said another person present at the Mass was in serious condition at the hospital. An Interior Ministry spokesman said the attackers were killed by police, ending the hostage situation.

“With pain and horror” for the “absurd violence,” Pope Francis expressed his condemnation of “every form of hatred” and offered his prayers for all those involved.

On his flight to Krakow to attend the 2016 World Youth Day on Wednesday, Pope Francis said that while many speak of a situation of “insecurity” around the world “the true word is war.”

“For some time we can say that the world has been at war, piece by piece,” said Francis, speaking in solemn tones about the death of Fr. Hamel.

Comparing the current situation to World Wars I and II, the pope continued “It is perhaps not as organic, but it is organized and it is war.”

“This holy priest who died in the moment of offering the prayer for the whole church is one but how many Christians, how many innocents, how many children?” the pontiff asked.

“Let’s not be afraid to say this truth,” said Francis. “The world is at war.”

For the CNS report, click here.

For the National Catholic Reporter (July 26, 2016) summary, click here.

For the National Catholic Reporter (July 27, 2016), click here.