Archive of May 10, 2009

Arizona diocese collecting musical instruments for Holy Land youth

Tucson, Ariz., May 10, 2009 (CNA) - Tucson members of one of the oldest yet least-known organizations within the Roman Catholic Church are looking for musical instruments for kids half way around the world.


Any kind, thank you– except drums, tubas and pianos.  They’re just too big and bulky to make the trip.


The goal of the Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is to give the instruments to two Catholic-run non-sectarian schools near Amman, Jordan, so the youngsters there can learn to play.


Jim Ronstadt, a spokesman for the organization, said collection of donated instruments will begin this month and continue through September. The plan is to take them to Jordan this fall during the Order’s annual pilgrimage to the Holy Land.


Billed as a “super pilgrimage,” the entourage will be led by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles. Ronstadt said about 130 pilgrims are signed up, and the goal is to enlist 250 for the trip, slated for Nov. 1-12 with an optional Jordan extension tour Nov. 12-16.

Donated instruments can be dropped off at either of the two locations of Beaver’s Band Box, at 7918 N.Oracle Rd. or 4570 East Broadway. Owner Dan Beaver will accept the instruments and provide donors with receipts for tax purposes.


Ronstadt said the idea was born when the group made a pilgrimage last year with Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas and found there were no musical instruments at the schools in Zarka, although teachers were available. The schools accommodate elementary, middle and high school students. Zarka North has 675 students, including 395 females.


Zarka, about 40 miles north of Amman, has about a million inhabitants but the city is not affluent because most workers hold low-paying positions in small textile factories. The poor economy and the absence of government assistance leaves the private schools in an operating deficit that is absorbed by the Latin Patriarchate.


“Despite the financial obstacles students receive a good education,” Ronstadt said.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is a chivalric order of Knighthood that traces its beginnings to the First Crusade. It is the chosen organization to guard the Holy Sepulchre, the sacred place where Christ was crucified and was buried. In simple terms, their main objective today is to support and promote Christianity in the Holy Land, where today, Christians are a minority.


Membership carries with it certain spiritual and temporal responsibilities with the first being daily prayer for peace in the Holy Land.  Praying the “Memorare” to Our Lady, Queen of Palestine is especially encouraged. The Blessed Virgin Mary, under this title, was officially declared patroness of the order in 1994, by order of the Apostolic See.


Another responsibility is working for the preservation and spread of the faith in the Holy Land by giving as generously as possible to the Order for the promotion and development of charitable Catholic works there and to support the missions of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. One of those missions is the building and support of 45 patriarchate schools, providing approximately 19,000 students an education based on Christian values.  Churches, convents and seminaries have also been built and are supported by funds of the Order.


You needn’t be a member of the Order to sign up for the pilgrimage, Ronstadt said. For details, including trip costs and itinerary, email [email protected] or go to


Printed with permission from the New Vision, newspaper from the Diocese of Tucson.

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In Jordan, Pope Benedict praises 'prophetic role of women'

Amman, Jordan, May 10, 2009 (CNA) -

Pope Benedict XVI stressed the "prophetic role" of women in God’s plans at a Sunday morning Mass with 20,000 people in Jordan’s International Stadium of Amman.

The liturgy was the only public Mass celebrated by the Pope during the Jordanian leg of his trip to the Middle East. The country’s King Abdullah II granted a holiday to the country’s 100,000 Christians for the occasion.

The Holy Father reminded Christians that the Church in the Holy Land – whose “strong families” he praised -- has dedicated this year to the family.

“How much the Church in these lands owes to the patient, loving and faithful witness of countless Christian mothers, religious sisters, teachers, doctors and nurses!” he exclaimed.

“How much your society owes to all those women who in different and at times courageous ways have devoted their lives to building peace and fostering love!”

“From the very first pages of the Bible,” he continued, “we see how man and woman, created in the image of God, are meant to complement one another as stewards of God’s gifts and partners in communicating his gift of life, both physical and spiritual, to our world.”

Pope Benedict lamented that this God-given dignity and the role of women has not always been sufficiently understood and esteemed.

“The Church, and society as a whole,” he said, “has come to realize how urgently we need what the late Pope John Paul II called the ‘prophetic charism’ of women as bearers of love, teachers of mercy and artisans of peace, bringing warmth and humanity to a world that all too often judges the value of a person by the cold criteria of usefulness and profit.”

“By its public witness of respect for women, and its defense of the innate dignity of every human person, the Church in the Holy Land can make an important contribution to the advancement of a culture of true humanity and the building of the civilization of love,” he explained.

The pontiff finished his homily by telling Catholics that he came to encourage them to persevere in faith, hope and love, in fidelity to the ancient traditions and the distinguished history of Christian witness that they trace back to the age of the Apostles.

“The Catholic community here,” he explained, “is deeply touched by the difficulties and uncertainties which affect all the people of the Middle East.

“May you never forget the great dignity which derives from your Christian heritage.”

“May the courage of Christ our shepherd,” he continued, “inspire and sustain you daily in your efforts to bear witness to the Christian faith and to maintain the Church’s presence in the changing social fabric of these ancient lands.”

The Pope added: “Fidelity to your Christian roots, fidelity to the Church’s mission in the Holy Land, demands of each of you a particular kind of courage: the courage of conviction, born of personal faith, not mere social convention or family tradition; the courage to engage in dialogue and to work side by side with other Christians in the service of the Gospel and solidarity with the poor, the displaced, and the victims of profound human tragedies; the courage to build new bridges to enable a fruitful encounter of people of different religions and cultures, and thus to enrich the fabric of society.”

He said that it also means bearing witness to the love which inspires us to lay down our lives in the service of others, and thus, countering ways of thinking which justify taking innocent lives.

Two hundred children received their first Holy Communion at the papal Mass, including 40 Iraqi children who are refugees in Jordan. Some of them received the sacrament from Benedict XVI himself.

In attendance at Sunday’s Mass was Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammad, the King of Jordan’s chief advisor on religious affairs and one of the chief signatories of an Oct. 2007 letter by 138 Muslim scholars aimed at sparking dialogue with Christians.

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English-speaking priests called to Rome for ‘Year for the Priests’ seminar

Harrisburg, Pa., May 10, 2009 (CNA) - In honor of the 223rd birthday of St. John Vianney, two of the largest English-speaking associations for parish priests and deacons have announced a joint conference in Rome to encourage the ongoing formation of clergy.

Pope Benedict has designated 2010 as the Year of Priests and has invoked the patronage of the Curé of Ars, St. John Vianney. Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, who was born on May 8, 1786 and ministered in France. He became so well-known for his spiritual direction that pilgrims would come from distant places to speak with him.

The Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy and the American Confraternity of Catholic Clergy have responded to the Year of Priests and organized a special seminar in Rome to “promote ongoing formation of the clergy in a fraternal setting.” The seminar is in response to the call of the Second Vatican Council and supported by Cannon Law.

Speakers will be selected based upon their “orthodoxy and loyalty to the Magisterium.” All priests and deacons from English speaking countries are invited to attend the event regardless of their membership to either the ACCC or CCC.

National Chairman, Rev. Michael Kennedy, PP, (Australia) and President, Rev. John Trigilio, Jr, PhD, (U.S.A.) have urged their members to “honor Pope Benedict’s Year for the Priests by coming to Rome in January 2010 to spend time in prayer, study, and sacerdotal fraternity.”

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Thomas Aquinas College schedules Canadian cardinal for commencement speech

Santa Paula, Calif., May 10, 2009 (CNA) - Thomas Aquinas College has announced that Cardinal Marc Ouellet will preside over their commencement ceremonies next week. The Board of Governors chose the prelate because of his "exemplary loyalty" and "devotion" to the magisterium.

Several Catholic universities have been in the headlines over the last few weeks as some have invited speakers who embrace beliefs in direct violation of Catholic teaching.

This trend was bucked as Thomas Aquinas College, located in Santa Paula, California, extended an invitation to Ouellet, the General Relator of the Synod of Bishops. The decision, announced by interim President Peter DeLuca, was a welcomed by the Board of Governors.

In their press release, they said Cardinal Ouellet was chosen because he has "shown an exemplary loyalty and devotion to the Holy Father and the magisterium of the Church and has worked tirelessly to proclaim, support, and defend the teachings of the Church, and to advance the mission of Christ on earth."

The cardinal will also receive the college’s highest honor, the Saint Thomas Aquinas Medallion, established by the Board of Governors in 1975.

Thomas Aquinas expects each 71 seniors at the ceremony who will all receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal arts. The college was struck by sad news last month as their President, Dr. Thomas Dillion, died in a tragic car accident in Ireland.

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Pope Benedict visits site of Jesus' baptism

Amman, Jordan, May 10, 2009 (CNA) -

Two new church cornerstones were blessed by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday evening at the place where the Bible says Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

At around 5 p.m. on Sunday, after having celebrated a two and a half hour Mass earlier in the day, Pope Benedict traveled to the site where Jesus was baptized, accompanied by Jordan's King Abdullah II and his wife Queen Rania.

Just across the narrow Jordan River, another site claims to be the location of Jesus' baptism. But Pope Benedict visited the Jordanian site and blessed cornerstones for two new Catholic churches—one Latin Rite and the other Greek Melkite.

In a speech prior to the blessing ceremony, the Holy Father explained the symbolism of the cornerstones, saying, “The foundation stone of a church is a symbol of Christ. The Church rests on Christ, is sustained by him and cannot be separated from him.”

Benedict XVI also reflected on the Jesus' baptism, which he described as being “brought vividly before us in this place.”

“Jesus stood in line with sinners and accepted John’s baptism of penance as a prophetic sign of his own passion, death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins,” the Pope said.

“Down through the centuries, many pilgrims have come to the Jordan to seek purification, renew their faith and draw closer to the Lord. Such was the pilgrim Egeria, who left a written account of her visit during the late fourth century.

He then pointed out that “the Sacrament of Baptism, drawing its power from Christ’s death and resurrection, will be cherished especially by the Christian communities that gather in the new church buildings. May the Jordan always remind you that you have been washed in the waters of baptism and have become members of the family of Jesus.”

The Pope encouraged the faithful to prayerfully contemplate the mystery of Christ's baptism and to promote “dialogue and understanding in civil society, especially when claiming your legitimate rights.”

The Middle East, which he depicted as “marked by tragic suffering, by years of violence and unresolved tensions,” needs Christians “to offer their contribution, inspired by the example of Jesus, of reconciliation and peace through forgiveness and generosity,” the Pope said.

Benedict XVI finished by praying that God “sustain, strengthen and increase” the two new Catholic communities.

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