Today Marks 1st Celebration of Mary Mother of the Church

Today, May 21, 2018, marks the first celebration of the Feast of Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, instituted by Pope Francis.  The decree which was announced earlier this year by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, added each Monday following Pentecost to the church’s liturgical calendar.

Pope Unexpectedly Names 14 New Cardinalsl

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako

After celebrating Mass for the Feast of Pentecost on Sunday, May 20, Pope Francis unexpectedly named fourteen new Cardinals in the Catholic Church.  The newly-appointed Cardinals will be installed during a consistory at the Vatican on June 29, 2018.

Notable among the group was the appointment of Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako from Iraq.  He has been very vocal about the suffering of the Iraqi people following the invasion of their country in 2003.

Eleven of the new Cardinals are under the age of 80, bringing the number of Cardinal electors to 125 following the June ceremony.  Of that number, fifty-nine will be Pope Francis appointees.

Please select this link to review the National Catholic Reporter coverage of the new Cardinals.

In Crux, editor John Allen prepared an analysis on the appointments entitled “Seven quick takeaways on the creation of 14 new cardinals.”  Please click here to review that text.

summary entitled “Seven

Date Announced for Canonization of Blessed Pope Paul Vi, Oscar Romero and 4 Others

October 14, 2018, has been officially announced as the Canonization date for Pope Paul Vi, Oscar Romero, and four other Blesseds including Francesco Spinelli, Vincenzo Romano, Maria Katharine Kasper and Nazaria Ignacia de Santa Teresa de Jesus.  Pope Francis declared the date on May 19, 2018, during an Ordinary Public Consistory for the Canonization of the Blessed.  Their paths to sainthood were cleared in March 2018 when the Holy Father approved a series of decrees related to their causes.

Please click here to review each Blessed full title and the miracles attributed to them published in Zenit.


USCCB Appoints Dominic Lombardi to Head Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

Photo Courtesy of Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg

In a recent news release, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced the appointment of Dominic Lombardi as Executive Director of the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, effective, June 11, 2018.  Since 2015, Lombardi has served as Secretary and Director for Harrisburg’s Secretariat for Catholic Life and Evangelization.  He has also served as Director for Adult and Graduate Recruitment, Services and Partnership for Newmann University in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  The secretariat assists the bishops in advancing the vocation and mission of the lay faithful, married couples, families, lay ecclesial ministers, and young people.

The announcement of the Executive Director appointment coincides with news of the upcoming National Summit of Young Adult Ministry from May 15-17, 2018.  Over 130 young adult ministry leaders will gather at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D. C. and focus on peer conversation and networking around best practices and emerging models of ministry with young adults. Live-streaming will be available for invitees who are unable to attend in person.

To review Dominic Lombardi’s bio on the USCCB website, click here

Click here to review complete details on the May young adult summit.

Volcano’s Lava Forces Members of Hawaii Parish to Evacuate.

Members of Sacred Heart Parish in the town of Pahoa, Hawaii are coming to the aid of their neighbors fleeing the unpredictable eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. Nearly 2,000 people have been ordered to evacuate in the past ten days since Kilauea erupted in early May, sending lava flowing into communities and threatening a nearby geothermal plant. Along with prayers, Sacred Heart Parishioners opened up their homes and parish hall to provide comfort and safety to victims of the volcanic lava.

Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu visited the affected areas and offered assistance.  During an interview, he commented that the diocese’s three social service agencies informed him: “the immediate needs for shelter, food, and clothing are being addressed locally,” and added: ‘long-term needs may require help from outside the community.”

Click here to review the National Catholic Reporter assessment of the community response to the volcanic eruption.

World Refugee Day – June 20, 2018

World Refugee Day will be observed on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. Sponsored by the United Nations Refugee Agency, this event is held annually to show global support for people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes because of violent conflicts or natural disasters.

Although numerous worldwide humanitarian projects are underway to help refugees resettle or provide food and temporary shelter, their numbers are increasing immensely, placing a tremendous strain on these resources.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has developed a World Refugee Day 2018 Toolkit with suggestions local Parishes or other community organizations can adopt to move the global agenda forward to care for the world’s refugee population.  Contents include prayers; sample prayer intentions; commonly asked questions; sample talking points; letter to the Editor tips (giving voice to the voiceless), and community engagement ideas.

Please click here to download the toolkit.


Catholics are hit with a global wave of violence during ‘Black April’

April has been such a deadly month for Catholics globally that one journalist has dubbed it “Black April.”  At least seven Catholic Priests were killed or assassinated in April along with numerous worshipers who were massacred during church services.

Reports from Mexico included the death of 83-year old Fr. Fabila Reyes who succumbed in captivity after his family paid a $100,000 ransom to his kidnappers.  Another priest was gunned down near Guadalajara and one stabbed to death outside Mexico City.

In the Philippines, Fr. Mark Ventura was assassinated while baptizing children at the conclusion of Mass on April 29.

Two priests, Frs. Joseph Gor and don Felix Tyolaha were killed during services in Mbalom, Nigeria.  Fifteen Parishioners also lost their lives in the attack. Fr. Gor warned of the pending danger to his Parish in early January Tweeting: “We live in fear the Fulani are back in the area of Mbalom.  We have no means of defending ourselves.”

Sadly, April’s wave of deadly violence continued into May. Militants believed to be former members of the Muslim Militant group, Seleka, sprayed bullets and detonated grenades on worshipers at the Notre Dame of Fatima Church in the Central African Republic on May 1.  This massacre claimed the lives of Father Albert Toungoumale-Baba and twenty-three other Parishioners. CAR Cardinal Dieudonné Nzapalainga has been urging more efforts toward peace in the area, however, there is mounting concern that the latest attack could trigger deadly sectarian reprisals in Bangui.

Let us remember our fallen Priests and other victims of violence with Pope Francis’ prayer “May the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, help everyone to say ‘no’ to violence, in order to build peace together.”

To review the America Magazine article on the subject, please click here.

Crux also filed a report on the Central African Republic attack – please click here to review it.


Why Do Parishes Turn Young Catholic Couples Away?

Rev. Michael L. Hahn, OSB, a Benedictine monk of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, recently shared his thoughts on a new approach to marriage preparation, which is one of the fundamental pastoral concerns addressed by Pope Francis in his apostolic exhortation, Amoris laetitia.

Fr. Hahn’s reflections centered on situations facing baptized Catholics, marrying for the first time, who want to celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony but are not active Parishioners in their current location.  Hahn noted that many of these young couples have moved away from their home parish first to attend college and later to pursue careers.  When visiting Catholic parishes in their new location to inquire about a Catholic wedding, they are often met with opposition based on arbitrary parish/pastoral policies before marriage preparation can begin.

One suggestion Fr. Hahn offers to positively engage these new “mobile” couples in the life of the Parish, is based on Pope Francis’ encouragement: “Rather than beginning with what is missing or lacking in the lives of these young people…pastoral ministers should view the occasion as an opportunity for re-evangelization.”  “These young couples do not need to be taught the entire Catechism or overwhelmed with too much information….  the program should be an attractive and helpful presentation of information that can help couples to live the rest of their lives together with great courage and generosity.”

To review Fr. Hahn’s reflections published in Commonweal Magazine, please click here.


Pope’s Visit to Loppiano Affirms Focolare Movement

Chiara Lubich, Founder of Focolare Movement

On May 10, 2018, Pope Francis was greeted by 850 members of the Focolare Movement in the town of Loppiano in the Tuscany area of Italy.  In addition, representatives from the worldwide Focolare family tuned into the event via live streaming.

Loppiano is the Focolare’s international center and was established by the movement’s founder, Chiara Lubich.  It was developed as a model town based on Focolare’s shared values of dialogue, love, acceptance, and integration.  Worldwide over two million people share in the Movement’s life and activities.  There are approximately 1,000 social projects in different countries and 800 businesses that base their activities on the principles of the Economy of Communion.

During a reorganizational meeting several years ago, Pope Francis addressed the movement commenting: “The Work of Mary, that everyone knows as the Focolare movement, was a little seed in the Catholic Church’s womb, that in the course of the years has brought to life a tree which now extends its branches in all the expressions of the Christian family and also among members of different religions and among many who cultivate justice and solidarity together with the search for truth.

Last week, the Pontiff encouraged Focolare members to remain faithful to their roots and to trust in the future.  Click here to review the write-up published in Vatican News.



Fr. Augustus Tolton’s Cause for Canonization Moves Closer to Beatification

Fr. Augustus Tolton’s Cause for Canonization has taken a significant step forward with approval of his Positio by the Vatican’s historical commission. His “Cause” was opened in 2010 by the late Francis Cardinal George, and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph N. Perry, diocesan postulator.  Approval of the positio marks the end of the official research phase in the canonization process.

Born a slave in Missouri, Fr. Tolton’s family escaped to freedom by crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois where he began his elementary education at St. Peter’s Catholic School. His mentor and church pastor, Fr. Peter McGirr, catechized him and encouraged Tolton to enter the Priesthood. Since no seminary in the United States would admit an African American, Augustus traveled to Rome to complete his ecclesiastical studies and was ordained on April 24, 1886.

Following his ordination, Tolton was assigned to the Diocese of Quincy in Southern Illinois, where he remained until his transfer to Chicago to start a parish for Black Catholics, St. Monica’s.  There he became affectionately known as Fr. Guss. Tolton’s life was cut short at age 43 when he collapsed and died from heatstroke during an intense Chicago heat wave. The first U. S. African American Priest could become the country’s first African American saint.

Click here to review article published in Crux Now.

Additional information on Fr. Tolton’s Cause is covered in an article from Chicago CatholicClick here to review that coverage.