Denver, Colo., Apr 4, 2009 (CNA) - "Come, be my light" was God’s call to Mother Teresa more than 50 years ago. Seventeen students and four adults from Bishop Machebeuf High School in Denver felt the same call last week, to help those in need in Galveston, Texas. The island off the southwestern coast of the state was devastated by Hurricane Ike in mid-September 2008, causing massive destruction, unseen in the historic city since 1900.
The mission trip included a balance of work and prayer: each day students prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, went to Mass together and also spent around seven hours working on various sites. They moved from house to house throughout the week cleaning, removing trees and debris, rebuilding, restoring, and painting.
Br. Paul Kostka, Machebeuf teacher and head of campus ministry remarked that his favorite part of the trip "was being able to assist a young mother whose house had to be rebuilt from the ground up."
Alex Gomez, a senior who also participated in the trip was impressed by the mind-set of the hurricane victims saying: "It was amazing that these people, who have suffered for so long and have lost so much, remain joyous, hospitable, and hopeful."
The group was lodged through the generosity of the Knights of Columbus and hosted by St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
Vatican City, Apr 4, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence, the formal document granting diplomatic accreditation, of Victor Manuel Grimaldi Cespedes, the new ambassador of the Dominican Republic on Friday and assured the ambassador that the Church will always assist in helping the country become "a freer, more peaceful, just and fraternal civilization."
In his address to Ambassador Cespedes, the Pope noted that for more than 500 years, "the Church in Latin America, which with the passing of the years has given abundant fruits of sanctity, culture, and prosperity for all members of society."
Benedict XVI also recalled the contribution to the Dominican Republic that the Catholic Church has made in "the field of education, with various universities, technical training centers, institutes and parish schools; and in the field of assistance, with the concern she shows towards immigrants, refugees, disabled, sick, elderly, orphans and the poor"
"I am referring primarily to the defense and dissemination of such basic human values as the recognition and protection of the dignity of the person, respect for human life from the moment of conception until natural death, and the safeguarding of the institution of the family based on marriage between a man and a woman, because these elements are indispensable to the social fabric."
Benedict XVI also spoke of recent achievements "in social and economic plans" that encouraged hope for a "more peaceful future" without "poverty, drug trafficking, marginalization, and violence."
The Pope concluded his comments by saying, "in establishing a climate of true harmony, and in searching for effective and stable answers to their most pressing problems, the Dominican authorities will always find the Church's hand outstretched for the building of a freer, more peaceful, just and fraternal civilization."
Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 4, 2009 (CNA) -
The secretary general of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico, Bishop Jose Leopoldo Gonzalez, this week defended the right of the bishops to speak out on political issues, against the opinions of some politicians who wish to silence the Church.
"The Church must speak out on politics, otherwise she would betray the Gospel," he stated. "[The Church] would never speak in a politically partisan manner because the Code of Canon Law forbids it".
During a press conference at the bishops’ headquarters, Bishop Gonzalez said that democracy is not only "going to vote," but also "caring for the vote. In this sense we have a long way to go, and this is not only the job of the Church, it’s everyone’s job."
Austin, Texas, Apr 4, 2009 (CNA) -
A Diocese of Austin priest who disappeared while preparing a retirement home in the border town of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico remains missing, with police saying there is not enough evidence to determine if a crime was committed.
The 69-year-old Fr. Jesse Euresti, a priest at Cristo Rey Catholic Church in east Austin, was last heard from on early Tuesday morning when he called his sister to tell her he was close to the border. Later on Tuesday, the priest’s Nuevo Laredo neighbors called police after finding the priest’s garage door wide open.
Mexican police discovered blood and a knife inside of the home and feared foul play was involved. Authorities have asked the priest’s sister to provide a DNA sample so they can confirm if blood found inside the home belongs to Fr. Euresti.
Police are also searching for a man who lived at the house, Martin Torres. Torres was initially described as an assistant but was referred to as a caretaker in later reports.
Authorities do not suspect the possible crime is tied to drug violence.
Bishop of Austin Gregory Aymond said the diocese has been in conversation with agencies investigating Fr. Euresti’s disappearance.
"We have been told that the investigation into his disappearance is ongoing. We continue to pray for Father Jesse. We ask everyone to remember him, his family and the parishioners of Cristo Rey in their prayers," he said.
According to KEYETV.com, parishioners at Cristo Rey Church gathered on Thursday for another night of prayer.
Some parishioners said that they spoke with Fr. Euresti on Sunday after Mass.
"The last thing I remember was I was talking to him," said Encarnacion Mendoza. "I was walking across the street with him and I told him he was a good man. That was it, not much."
He and other parishioners reported that the priest is a beloved member of the community and said they were hopeful that he is safe.
Another parishioner, Jesse Flores, said Fr. Euresti’s disappearance made him feel like he has lost somebody.
"He was a good person. He talked to you about God. I don't know what happened. God is going to do something. I hope nothing happened to him," Flores told KEYETV.com.
"Father Jessie, wherever you are, I hope you're ok."
Oklahoma City, Okla., Apr 4, 2009 (CNA) -
The Oklahoma Legislature is considering a bill that would define unborn children as persons to allow pregnant women to use deadly force to save the lives of their babies.
The bill, titled the "Use of Force For the Protection of the Unborn Act," was co-authored by State Rep. Mike Thompson and was sought by the group Americans United for Life.
"Unfortunately, we feel we need legislation like this," Thompson said to KOCO 5 News. "What we want to make sure is that a woman feels safe and secure defending herself and her unborn child against any attacker."
The bill reportedly stems from a Michigan case where a woman who was pregnant with quadruplets stabbed and killed her boyfriend after he hit her in a stomach. She suffered a miscarriage and was convicted of manslaughter.
Oklahoma law at present allows a person to use force to protect himself or another person from someone else. The new bill classifies an unborn child as "another" person, KOCO 5 News reports.
Josh Beasley, an official at the YWCA Oklahoma City, said statistics about abuse of pregnant women are startling.
"Domestic violence is the second-leading cause of death among (pregnant) women nationwide, so it's good they are taking the issue seriously and wanting to do something about it," he told KOCO 5 News.
The bill has passed the State House and Senate with no opposition and is back in the Senate for a final vote. It is expected to pass and go to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that someone who defends his or her life is not guilty of murder if he or she is forced to deal a lethal blow to an aggressor. "Legitimate defense" also can be "a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others."
However, the Catechism also warns that self-defense which uses more than necessary violence is "unlawful."
Cleveland, Ohio, Apr 4, 2009 (CNA) -
A man who suffered a "non-survivable" execution-style gunshot to the head during a mugging in Cleveland has had a "miraculous" recovery possibly due to the intercession of Pope John Paul II. If the late pontiff is credited for the miracle, it would lead to his beatification.
Jory Aebly, 26, suffered the gunshot would five weeks ago. Doctors at the Metro Health Medical Center declared it to be a "non-survivable" injury, ABC’s Good Morning America reports.
Hospital chaplain Fr. Art Nedeker administered Aebly with the Sacrament of the Sick, asking Pope John Paul II to pray for Jory and to protect him.
Fr. Nedeker explained that the Pope had promised him he would always pray for the patients at the hospital and blessed a dozen rosaries with special patients at the hospital.
The priest gave Aebly the last of the rosaries that had been blessed by the Pope, after which Aebly consistently improved.
He was released on Tuesday, two days before the fourth anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s death.
Dr. Robert Geertman, a neurosurgeon involved in Aebly's treatment, told Good Morning America his patient’s survival was "one in a million."
"My jaw was on the floor after a day or two of seeing he is hanging on. …I'd say it's pretty miraculous," he said at a press conference days after the shooting.
At the press conference announcing Aebly’s release, Fr. Snedeker said:
"I stand before you today and can say, to my mind, Jory is a miracle."
Aebly himself credited his recovery to "the many prayers from family, friends and co-workers" and others.
His mother Deb Wolfram told the press conference she believes in "the power of prayer" and said she believed people’s prayers helped her son through his ordeal, Good Morning America says.
A Vatican official reported that the investigation into the alleged miracle could take time.
"We cannot predict a precise schedule," Monsignor Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Caucus of Saints told ANSA. "All stages, including the examination of the miracle, have to be conducted in a particularly thorough way."
Approval of the miracle could lead to Pope John Paul II’s beatification, leaving one more miracle before he can be canonized.
South Bend, Ind., Apr 4, 2009 (CNA) - This week Notre Dame Response announced that their first official demonstration will take place on Notre Dame’s campus after the Palm Sunday Mass and will feature pro-life attorney and speaker Harold Cassidy.
In a press release, Notre Dame Response said they hope that this “prayerful and public demonstration” will remind the community of Notre Dame’s “Catholic character” and defend the “non-negotiable principle for which Notre Dame stands” including the recognition of the “value of all human life.”
Notre Dame Response noted that the event is “a response” to University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., who extended a commencement invitation to President Obama and also will honor him with an honorary doctor of law degree.
At the demonstration, the main speaker will be Harold Cassidy, who has worked on the New Jersey Bioethics Commission. Cassidy’s bio includes notable recognition in the pro-life community as a defender of life by acting as the Chief Counsel in the Baby M case, which struck down surrogate parenting contracts as “illegal, unenforceable, against public policy and exploitive of women.”
According to their website Notre Dame Response is also offering a nightly Rosary “for the conversion of Barack Obama, greater respect for life, and the Catholic Identity of Our Lady's university.”
Notre Dame Response was “formed as an ad hoc, coalition consisting of various student groups at the university. Its initial statement describes the group as being committed to ‘acts of witness that will be characterized by respect, prayerfulness, outspoken fidelity to the Church, and true concern for the good of our University’.”