Raleigh, N.C., Sep 13, 2009 (CNA) - The Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina is offering its prayers for holy priests by spending time in front of the Eucharist. While parishes and schools in the diocese have committed to holding a Holy Hour for Vocations on the first Friday of each month, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge will travel to one Deanery a month where the faithful will be invited to join him in a Holy Hour dedicated to vocations.
The first Deanery Holy Hour for Vocations was celebrated Wednesday, September 2 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Raleigh. Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge presided with Diocesan Vocations Director Fr. Ned Shlesinger the homilist.
In his homily, Father Shlesinger discussed a trip he took this summer to Honduras with Father Pat Keane, Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Newton Grove and newly ordained Deacon Vic Gournas, who is entering his final year of Theology at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. Father Shlesinger noted the shortage of priests in that Central American country, where there is one priest for every 13,000 Catholics. He said many Hondurans are hungry for the Eucharist, having access to the sacrament only a few times a year.
“The greatest desire of God ... is to give Himself to us,” Father Shlesinger said. “To have us share in His life, to join us to Him.”
“As Vocations Director,” Father Shlesinger added, “I pray God will give us holy Priests so no one in our diocese will go hungry.”
For more diocesan information about vocations and the Year for Priests, visit: http://www.dioceseofraleigh.org/how/vocations/yfp/
Printed with permission from the Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina.
CNA STAFF, Sep 13, 2009 (CNA) - On September 18, the Church will celebrate the life of St. Joseph of Cupertino, a mystic who was perhaps most famous for his ability to fly. His father, a poor carpenter, died before his birth and his mother, who was unable to pay the debts, lost her home and gave birth to Joseph in a stable at Cupertino, Italy on June 17, 1603.
Joseph began having mystical visions when he was seven, and was often so lost to the world around him that the other children made fun of him giving him the nickname, "open-mouthed" for his gaping manner.
He had an irascible temper and read very poorly, giving others the impression that he was dumb and good for nothing. Aside from that, he was so continually drawn into ecstasy that it was impossible for him to be attentive to the tasks at hand. Thus, when he secured a job, he lost it very quickly.
He finally managed to obtain a post taking care of a stable in a Franciscan convent near Cupertino. Upon realizing his holiness and aptitude for penance, humility, and obedience, it was decided that he could begin studying for the priesthood.
Joseph was a very poor student, however during his final examination, the examiner happened to ask him a question on the one topic he knew well. He passed and was admitted into the priesthood
It was also soon recognized that though he knew little by way of worldly knowledge and had little capacity to learn, Joseph was infused with a divine knowledge that made him capable of solving some of the most intricate theological quandaries.
For the last 35 years of his life as a priest he was unable to celebrate Mass in public because he would often, without being able to help it, be lifted up into the air when he went into an ecstatic state, which happened at nearly every Mass. It took only the slightest reference of anything having to do with God in order for this state to be induced in him.
Despite being moved from one friary to another, because of the disruption he caused by his ecstasies and the persecutions he endured from some of his brothers who were envious of his gifts, he remained profoundly inundated by the joy of abandoning himself to Divine Providence.
He died on September 18, 1663 and was canonized in 1767 by Pope Clement XIII. He is the patron of air travelers and students preparing for exams.
Nairobi, Kenya, Sep 13, 2009 (CNA) - The investigation into the possible beatification of the widely loved former Archbishop of Nairobi, Cardinal Maurice Michael Otunga, has begun with the appointment of the postulator of his cause.
Cardinal John Njue, the present Archbishop of Nairobi, has appointed Fr. Anthony Bellagamba as postulator. A Consolata Missionary, Fr. Bellagamba is a former professor of pastoral theology at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). His appointment coincided with the sixth anniversary of Cardinal Otunga’s death, the Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA) reports.
Fr. Bellagamba was born in central Italy and first worked in Kenya from 1958 to 1963. He came to know Cardinal Otunga from 1984 to 1994 while teaching at CUEA, where the cardinal was chancellor.
The priest, a former Vice General Superior of the Consolata Missionaries in Rome, now works at Allamno House, the Consolata seminary in Nairobi.
He described Cardinal Otunga as a man who possessed “a great sense of the Divine” and a great sense of the supernatural.
“His prayer life was exceptional. His gentleness, kindness, was very, very attractive. He would take time to talk to you,” Fr. Bellagamba said, according to CISA. “He was so simple - not simplistic, because he was shrewd - but he was simple in the sense that he was not double-faced. What he believed, what he thought, he said.”
As postulator, Fr. Bellagamba will coordinate the beatification investigation and will lead a commission of church experts who collect all information from written and oral testimonies about the candidate’s life. If the archbishop of Nairobi thinks the results are suitable, they will be presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.
“The purpose is to collect information, any type of information, that would prove whether he practiced the evangelical virtues in a heroic way or not,” he explained.
“Suppose someone comes and says his experience of the Cardinal was very negative, say he was a selfish person,” the priest said. “Then we have to go into it and be able to show that either the person is biased or the person has some ill feelings against the cardinal for whatever reason (he didn’t accept his son or daughter in one of the Catholic schools, etc). If we are able to demonstrate that the deposition is biased, the process continues; if not, you have to do more research and really resolve that issue before you continue.”
If the postulator’s investigation results are sent to Rome, they will again be scrutinized to see if negative depositions have been properly resolved. Investigators at Rome will also have to ascertain that someone has experienced a miracle through the intercession of the candidate.
Fr. Bellagamba told CISA he could not say how long the entire process might take, but he reported that the diocesan level investigation takes “several years.”
Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 13, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI told the 4,000 people gathered for the recitation of the Angelus prayer in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo they must be inspired by Sunday’s Gospel and learn from the Blessed Virgin Mary to witness to their Christian faith.
The Word of God, Pope Benedict said, challenges Christians with two crucial questions: Who is Jesus of Nazareth? And is the Christian faith reflected in all that a Christian does or not?
“Jesus did not come to teach a philosophy, but to show the way, indeed, the path that leads to life,” the Holy Father commented.
“This path is love, which is the expression of true faith. If you love your neighbor with a pure and generous heart, it means you really know God. But if you say you have faith but do not love your brother, then you are not a true believer. God does not dwell in you.”
The Holy Father recalled St. James’ words in the second reading of Sunday Mass: “So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
St. John Chrysostom commented on this very passage, writing: “One can also have a true faith in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, but if one does not have a good life, this faith will not serve his salvation. So when one reads in the Gospel: 'This is life eternal, that they know thee the only true God,' do not think that this verse is enough to save us: a pure life and behavior are necessary.”
The pontiff noted that on Tuesday Christians celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
"The Virgin Mary,” he concluded, “who believed the Word of God, did not lose faith in God when she saw her son rejected, insulted and crucified. Rather she remained close to Jesus, suffering and praying, until the end, and she saw the radiant dawn of his resurrection.”
After the Angelus, Pope Benedict addressed English-speaking visitors:
“Throughout history, it has been the task of Peter’s successors to continue to make that proclamation of faith in Jesus Christ. And all of us are called to join Peter as we resolve to place the Lord at the center of our lives. I pray that all of you may grow in your faith and love for the Lord and I invoke his blessings upon you and upon your loved ones at home.”