Pope Francis’s trip to Chile and Peru

Former Secretary of State John Kerry greets Pope Francis at Andrews Air Force Base on September 24, 2015 (Photo: Wikimedia)

JANUARY 14, 2018 – Pope Francis’s first trip of 2018 will begin on Monday as the pontiff arrives in Santiago, Chile at the start of a weeklong trip to Chile and Peru. The pope’s January 15-21 visit will have him face challenges within the Chilean and Peruvian churches and issues of domestic policy in both countries. He will meet with the presidents of both nations, speak with the nations’ bishops, and meet with other groups of clergy and laity.

Local observers believe that the trip will confront a series of cases of clergy sex abuse in Chile. Complicating the issue is Francis’s 2015 appointment of Bishop Juan Barros Madrid of Osorno, Chile. Bishop Barros has been accused of covering up abuse in the 1980s/1990s.

The pope will also meet with two victims of Chile’s former dictatorship during his visit there.

Francis will leave Chile on January 18 for Peru. On Wednesday, January 10, Francis appointed a Colombian bishop to oversee Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a controversial Catholic society of apostolic life based in Peru. In May 2016, the Pope named then Archbishop Joseph Tobin as the pontifical delegate charged with overseeing the community’s investigation and reform following reports of sexual and psychological abuse. The decision to appoint Colombian Bishop Noel Antonio Londoño Buitrago C.Ss.R. as the group’s papal commissioner this week was no doubt related to the pope’s upcoming trip to Peru.

It is expected that Francis will raise issues of inequality during both visits, with perhaps a focus on corruption in Peru. Additionally, the pontiff is set to meet with members of Chile’s Mapuche native community on January 17. Relations between the community and the Chilean government have been tense for decades, with occasional outbursts of violence, and a recently proposed program for reparations/representation has been met with division within Chile.


This summary utilizes several articles:

For the National Catholic Reporter‘s article on the pope’s need to restore trust in the Chileans and Peruvian churches, click here.

For Crux‘s article on the papal meeting with victims of Chile’s dictatorship, click here.

For the Catholic News Agency’s report on the appointment of an overseer for Sodalitium during its ongoing crisis, click here.

For information on the pope’s meeting with indigenous peoples via Vatican News, click here.

For Pope Francis’s schedule during the trip via Crux, click here.

Alliance for Catholic Education organizes run fundraiser for Georgia school

(Photo: Snapwire)

JANUARY 11, 2018 – At St. Peter Claver Regional School in Decatur, Georgia, students in the “Kilometer Kids club” take their runs in the school parking lot, avoiding their open grass field due to an administrative prohibition on its use. “Administrators fear divots and other hazards [in the field] could wreck an ankle, putting it off limits. Soccer-loving students play in the gym, and the runners use the parking lot for now.”

However, students are hopeful that funds can be raised to build a track at the school. At the Publix Georgia Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K in Atlanta on March 18, 2018, the school will be sponsoring a group of runners. Christina Mirarchi, a graduate student with the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE)
program and a teacher at St. Peter Claver, is helping to organize the fundraiser for the school. Four ACE teachers from Atlanta,
including Mirarchi, will take part in the race, while an expected 44 ACE Teaching Fellows from across the country will run as well.

“More than a dozen staff and family members of people connected to the school are participating in the Publix Marathon. Principal Susanne Greenwood is raising money by running in the 5K race, an option offered in addition to the long distance runs.”

“At a summer retreat for ACE Fellows, Mirarchi pitched the fundraising idea. She advocated for the unique school where students speak languages other than English at home, including Spanish, Burmese, Zotung, Malay and Amharic.”

“ACE is a program of the University of Notre Dame, which trains and places teachers in underserved Catholic schools across the United States. The program offers college graduates a two-year experience teaching in Catholic schools. At the program’s end, the fellows receive a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Notre Dame.”

“The team’s goal for the event is $25,000. Some $1,500 has been pledged.”

For the full story in The Georgia Bulletin (Archdiocese of Atlanta), click here.

For more information on the Alliance for Catholic Education, click here.

Cardinal Cupich welcomes gifts of ‘new Magi’ at migration Mass

JANUARY 10, 2018 – To celebrate the start of National Migration Week (January 7-13), Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich celebrated a special multicultural Mass at the city’s Holy Name Cathedral.

The packed Mass was standing-room only, and began with a procession of people representing nearly 50 nations, with many in traditional garb. More than two dozen priests helped to celebrate the Mass which featured prayers in seven languages.

The Archdiocese’s Office of Human Dignity and Solidarity reported that their immigrant ministry “Pastoral Migratoria” was now active in roughly 50 parishes. The Archdiocese is also “working with other dioceses to start their own Pastoral Migratoria, with the Diocese of Stockton, California, and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, scheduled to start their ministries this spring.”

For the full article in the Chicago Catholic click here.


FOCUS Student Leadership Summit – Equipping young people with tools to evangelize

JANUARY 9, 2018 – Although the conference has ended, the roughly 8,000 young adults who attended SLS18 (Student Leadership Summit 2018) in Chicago are unlikely to forget the experience any time soon.

Sponsored by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), SLS18 was held from January 2 to 6 at Chicago’s McCormack Place. Organizers say more than 4,000 confessions were heard over the five-day event. The conference included Mass and confession, along with Eucharistic Adoration, but also had workshops, lectures, concerts, and performers.

The Fellowship of Catholic University Students has 700 representatives on 137 university campuses in the U.S. and Europe. John Zimmer, Vice President of Apostolic Development for FOCUS, praised the large turnout for the conference as a means of personal enlightenment for young adults: “There’s something about recognizing ‘I’m not alone’ that really helps launch a young person into missionary discipleship.”

For the full article in the Chicago Catholic, click here.

For information on the conference through the Catholic News Agency, click here.


Bishop Robert Barron at SLS18 via Facebook:

Bishop Robert Barron at SLS18

The need for change in our world starts with a change in ourselves. Bishop Robert Barron shares the need for world-changers who are Spirit-filled Catholic evangelists.

Posted by FOCUS-The Fellowship of Catholic University Students on Tuesday, January 2, 2018


Actor Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) speaking at SLS18:

Pope Francis addresses North Korea, says world peace depends on right to life and disarmament

(Photo: Pixabay)

JANUARY 8, 2018 – Pope Francis delivered his annual address to the Holy See’s diplomats on Monday. In his 50-minute speech – which he dedicated to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN in 1948 and which will celebrate its 70th anniversary in December – the pontiff covered a wide-range of challenges facing the world today.

Francis exhorted world leaders to pursue a “reduction of recourse to the use of armed force in the handling of international affairs.” He also called on governments to provide universal healthcare for all, to respect commitments to the environment, integrate migrants, and work towards nuclear disarmament. Francis further called for exploration of “peace initiatives aimed at helping Syria,” and called on all nations to respect “the status quo of Jerusalem, a city sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims.”

For the article in America, click here.

For the full-text of Pope Francis’s speech, click here.

Council Notes from New Orleans (December 2017)

(Photo: Archdiocese of New Orleans)

Below follows a summary version of the minutes of the Archdiocese of New Orleans’s Presbyteral Council Meeting on Tuesday, December 5, 2017:

  • The Superintendent of the Office of Catholic Schools spoke to the Council about parishes supporting parishioners who attend “Pre-K 4” at a school outside their parish. Agreement was reached that consistency was needed regarding admissions criteria for vouchers and support. The Council voted 16-2 in favor of providing parish voucher support at the “Pre-K 4” levels. Archbishop Aymond agreed to consider consultation.
  • The Council voted unanimously to approve revised recommendations on marketing by Catholic schools.
  • The Council voted unanimously to approve a revised policy concerning parish pastoral councils, with changes in the wording on the terms of members and an addition to the duties section requiring support for diocesan initiatives.
  • A proposal from the diaconate community concerning engagement with the disengaged (particularly those undergoing a divorce) was raised. The proposal called for deacons and other pastoral ministers to make visits to parishes on Sundays, traveling two by two, and making themselves available to meet with anyone, talk, and offer resources. The Council discussed the difficulties and benefits of such a ministry, and unanimously approved the proposal in a pilot program format.
  • A priest raised the issue of considering a policy whereby priests would be regularly evaluated for their driving ability, citing concerns over safety and financial costs related to insurance. The Council approved by consensus the moving forward of developing criteria for driving evaluation.

Next Council meeting on February 1, 2018.

If you have any questions, please contact [email protected]

Principles of clustering for a new Mass schedule by Father Jim Hewes

We have received a submission from Father Jim Hewes of the Diocese of Rochester. He has written a reflection on the process of parish clustering, a challenging topic to many parishes nationwide. His reflection includes a list of guidelines for this difficult process. We thank Father Hewes for providing his work to the NFPC and to the readers of This Week.

For the PDF of his work, click here.


Father Jim Hewes is a priest of the Diocese of Rochester. Ordained for over 43 years, Fr. Hewes has served in rural, suburban, and inner city parishes as well as serving as a campus minister and prison chaplain. He is a trained and certified mediator, and formerly served as director of Project Rachel for 18 years.


If you would like to submit an essay or article to This Week, we would be happy to publish it. Email [email protected] with any submissions or questions.

Aging in community: how elderly priests are cared for by their religious communities

Coat of arms of the U.S. Western Dominican province, Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus (Photo: Wikimedia)

JANUARY 8, 2018 – Dominican Father Paul Duffner spends each day at the Rosary Center of Holy Rosary Parish in Portland, Oregon. At 102, he is one of the oldest friars in the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. Yet, he enjoys spending his time working: he diligently prepares bundles of rosaries and pamphlets for distribution around the world.

The Western Dominican Province has 144 friars with an average age of 57. In the ten western states covered by the province, the Dominicans have 15 communities where friars staff parishes, Newman Centers, and other special projects.

Dominican Father Vincent Kelber, pastor of Holy Rosary Parish, says that their community stresses involved participation, adding that “We all want to retire sometimes from the harder obligations, but no one wants to stop working as a priest.”

The Congregation of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit has also confronted the issue of aging and, with help from the National Religious Retirement Office, created a “philosophy of aging document” to govern the care of older priests and brothers.

Both the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit and the Dominicans stress the community focused aspects of their planning, and their desire to keep brothers involved and participating in daily activities.

For the fully story in the Catholic Sentinel (Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon), click here.

USCCB Homily Help/Liturgical Aid

The Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has produced a new homily help/liturgical aid document for Poverty Awareness Month, designed for use on the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 28). The document is available in both English and Spanish.

For the English PDF, click here.
For the Spanish PDF, click here.

US bishops: End of protected status for Salvadorans is ‘heartbreaking’

(Photo: Wikimedia)

JANUARY 8, 2018 – The USCCB’s National Migration Week began this week with an ill-timed announcement from Washington that a program allowing 200,000 Salvadorans residency in the United States would be coming to an end.

Initially granted after a devastating earthquake in 2001, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) permits allowed citizens of El Salvador to reside in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security announced that the affected Salvadorans would have until September 2019 to leave the United States, find a new way to remain legally, or face deportation.

Bishop Joe Vásquez of Austin, Texas, and Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, called the decision “heartbreaking,” and Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles called for a path to permanent residency for those affected.

Several concerns were raised over the decision to revoke TPS status, including the economic costs of ending a system that allowed Salvadorans to send significant funds back to their families in El Salvador. Another point of concern is the future status of the estimated 192,000 U.S. citizen children born to the Salvadoran community, and the choice their parents will have to make in deciding whether to take their children back to El Salvador. Additionally, Catholic Relief Services issued a statement on Monday stating that “From our experience working with the Catholic Church and other local partners in El Salvador, the Salvadoran government does not have adequate humanitarian capacity to receive, protect, or integrate back into society safely this many people.”

For the full article via the Catholic News Agency, click here.