Little Rock, Ark., Nov 14, 2009 (CNA) - The universal Catholic Church was visible during the Encuentro Hispano Saturday, Oct. 31 at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds in Little Rock. The crowd estimated at more than 1,000 people, many originally from various Spanish-speaking nations in Central and South America as well as other states now living in Arkansas, attended the daylong gathering, which was centered around the theme of "Young Man and Young Woman: Listen to God's Call."
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor discussed how he discerned his calling to the priesthood and urged the youth to take time to pray every day asking for guidance, and to take time to listen to what God has to tell them. Msgr. Scott Friend, diocesan vocations director, spoke about the priesthood and how it has enriched him by allowing him to know God's people. Other speakers included diocesan seminarians and members of different orders of women religious from around the diocese.
Throughout the day people stopped by different tables around the Hall of Industry to talk with representatives of different women religious orders, representatives from diocesan offices, seminarians, view the children's art exhibit, get a flu vaccination, speak with members of the Hispanic Knights of Columbus, or Fuerza Transformadora, a group from Rogers that develops young leaders but originated as an organization to rescue at-risk youth. People could also get a health checkup or buy religious goods.
People also had a chance to go to confession in Spanish.
Carlos Alberto Mancilla came from Springdale. He said this event was new to him, but he had recently joined a charismatic prayer group and had attended a retreat. He said he liked what was happening throughout the day.
"We are all here with God," Mancilla said in Spanish. "We are all following the same path. We are people from many different countries, but we are all the same."
Guadalupe Herrera, a member of St. Barbara Parish in De Queen, said it was not her first Encuentro, but it had been several years since she had been to one.
"I like everything, but most of all the workshop presentations," she said. "It was also nice to see others I have not seen in a while."
For example, she said, she had attended a Cursillo weekend and there were other Cursillistas there she had not seen in a while.
"This is very beautiful, this gathering of Hispanics," she said.
Erica de Avalos, a member of St. Joseph Church in Conway, said she enjoyed the speakers and attended last year.
"It is nice to get together with other Catholics," she said.
"Here we are with God, it is something marvelous," said Maria Nava of Jacksonville. "I tell my children, when you are sick, you take medicine to make you well. If you do not, you will get sicker. This is medicine for the soul. To me, God is my doctor, judge, father, brother."
The concluding Mass was preceded by a eucharistic procession with the monstrance containing the Eucharist carried by Bishop Taylor through the hall, around the building and back, as the people followed behind their parish or group banners. The procession also included an icon of Cristo de Esquipulas, also known as the Black Christ, which had been making its way through different parishes, with significant numbers of Hispanics, in the state over the last several months.
Father Jose Antonio Galvez-Orellana, administrator of St. Barbara Church, gave the history of the Cristo de Esquipulas.
The Spaniards came to Guatemala and converted the inhabitants, he said. But the indigenous people still worshiped their gods, so the Spanish decided to build their churches over the temples.
An artist was commissioned to create a sculpture of Christ on the cross for a church in Esquipulas, Guatemala, to help teach the inhabitants about Christ's' sacrifice for us, he said. In Europe at that time, Christ was portrayed as victorious. Here they needed an image of Christ's suffering. The artist used light-colored wood. Over time, the wood turned dark, similar to the skin tone of the natives. At first, many thought it might have been caused by the soot from the candles in the church, but it was not the soot. People would touch the cross and their fingers would not be smudged.
So many people touched the wooden statue that part of it was worn down, Father Orellana said. It was sent off for repairs and as they cut into the wood, they saw the wood had all turned darker. Cristo de Esquipulas is revered throughout Central and South America. Only Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared in Mexico, is revered more, he said.
Early during the Encuentro, Deacon Marcelino Luna, director of the diocesan Hispanic Ministry Office, introduced 37 Hispanic lay leaders from around the diocese. He asked those present that if they did not have a representative, to ask their pastor why not, adding that if the priest asked them to lead, to step up and accept.
Music for the conference and Mass was provided by the Diocesan Hispanic Choir.
Next year Encuentro Hispano will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Printed with permission from the Arkansas Catholic, newspaper for the Diocese of Little Rock.
Madrid, Spain, Nov 14, 2009 (CNA) -
Archbishop Juan Jose Asenjo of Sevilla in Spain said this week the crucifix is “the sign and emblem of the greatest values: commitment, solidarity, piety, mercy and universal brotherhood.” His comments came in the wake of a ruling by the EU Human Rights Court ordering crucifixes to be removed from all classrooms in Italy.
In an interview given to the COPE Radio Network, the archbishop said the ruling “denies the right of parents who want crucifixes to remain in the classroom.”
“Yesterday we read that 84% of Italians want to keep them, and the right to religious freedom of a majority is being denied, and the Christians roots of Europe are being forgotten,” he said.
Archbishop Asenjo went on to say, “More than ever, Europe is in need of these human values, and therefore I cannot help but lament this ruling.”
Referring later to the fall of the Berlin Wall, which happened 20 years ago on Nov. 9, the archbishop said the historic event also signified the “collapse of those regimes founded upon the denial of God and on ideologies that trample the dignity of persons and that unfortunately continue to do so.”
The fall of the Berlin Wall took place without a single drop of blood being shed and with the influence of Pope John Paul II, the archbishop noted. “My desire is that no more walls that divide man be raised and that others that divide Europe fall down, such as the wall of secularism, of moral relativism, of scorn for life in the womb or in its twilight, and the wall of forgetting our own history and the Christian roots of Europe.”
Dublin, Ireland, Nov 14, 2009 (CNA) - Despite Archbishop Mike Neary's recent warning that alleged apparitions at the Shrine of Knock risk “misleading God's people and undermining the faith,” crowds of people swarmed the shrine on Saturday Oct. 31. Close to 10,000 people from all over Ireland came to the shrine in hopes of seeing an apparition of Mary which was predicted by self-proclaimed visionary Joe Coleman.
Pat Lavelle, manager of the Shrine of Knock, explained how the situation unfolded in a phone interview with CNA on Friday.
“Our basilica was left in a terrible state after. Chairs turned upside-down; food, drinks spilled. The basilica was closed for three days. Every one of the 5,000 chairs in the basilica had to be lifted in order to clean the floor and [be] put back into position.”
According to Lavelle, the clairvoyant Joe Coleman had predicted that Our Lady would appear inside the basilica at 3 p.m. that afternoon. The basilica has seating for 5,000, however, Lavelle said that he and private security allowed 7,000 inside. “I was afraid, actually, that if we stopped at 5,000 the other 5,000 would charge the building,” said Lavelle.
At around 2 p.m., Joe Coleman walked into the basilica and prayed a Rosary, and then prayed in front of the altar. Minutes passed and nothing happened.
As time worn on, the crowd became restless and began to trickle outside. “I was viewing [the crowd] from our sound room which looks down into the basilica, because I was concerned about safety,” Lavelle told CNA. “The atmosphere was like a social occasion. People were talking, people were on the phone, taking photographs. There was no sense of dignity in the building at all. There was just a sense of anticipation, people were waiting for something to happen.”
At 3:30, a loud bang from outside sent the people indoors into a frenzy, all stampeding to get out. Lavelle revealed that the private security guards found someone had let off a small firecracker on the grounds outside.
Shortly after this, the “visionary,” Joe Coleman, left the building and ran in the direction of the museum. Lavelle told of how Coleman was being mobbed by the crowd and how people were falling on the ground in efforts to reach him. “It was very dangerous,” continued Lavelle, who explained how his security guards had to lead Coleman to safety.
Coleman has since claimed that Mary appeared to him privately that afternoon and he has predicted that another apparition of Our Lady will take place on Dec. 5.
When asked by CNA if the Shrine of Knock will prevent Coleman from returning, Lavelle said that they will not intentionally close the basilica on that day, as people are welcome whenever the shrine is open. However, “as the manager of the shrine I am concerned about safety,” he said. “Joe Coleman can make his predictions and stand away from it. If something happens to someone here, he's ultimately not responsible.” The shrine manager added that discussions have taken place among the staff about ensuring that stricter safety measures are taken on Dec. 5.
Although the spectacle created by Coleman's predictions has been largely negative, Lavelle revealed that he has had a flood of very positive responses from the “real supporters of Knock.” Letters and calls have come in from people who have been “disgusted” and “distraught” at how the basilica was left.
“People who come to Knock are not looking for signs,” said Lavelle, who concluded, “Our Lady is here everyday. She responds to everyone who comes here quietly and gives people a lot of hope as she did in 1879.”
Augusta, Maine, Nov 14, 2009 (CNA) - Supporters of Maine’s Question 1 have reported receiving death threats from irate opponents of the measure, which vetoed the state legislature’s move to allow same-sex “marriage.” In response, one former homosexual leader says supporters should not “live in fear” but should “stay strong” and show a love that helps their adversaries to change.
On Nov. 3, Maine voters approved Question 1 by a margin of 53 to 47 percent, causing disappointment and dismay among its opponents.
On Monday, Nov. 9 the Stand for Marriage Maine headquarters received a threatening voice mail from a woman who said: “You're dead. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon... you're dead."
According to the Portland Press Herald, spokesman for Stand for Marriage Scott Fish said a campaign worker closing the office in Yarmouth discovered the message.
Yarmouth police Sgt. Daniel Gallant said the message did not identify anyone by name. He reported that police are taking the threat seriously and will try to trace the call. Police will interview those associated with Stand for Marriage who may have been threatened during the campaign.
Last Friday, an anonymous caller to the Question 1 backer Christian Civic League of Maine threatened its former director.
"I am calling about Mr. Mike Heath, the Executive of your Christian Civic League of Maine. He thinks that gay people should have our rights revoked that we already have. Well I can tell him this - I'm a gay guy who owns guns, and he's my next target."
Heath no longer works for the organization and was not actively involved in the Question 1 campaign, the Portland Press Herald reports. He was involved in opposing homosexual rights proposals in 1998, 2000 and 2005.
Augusta police are investigating that threat. Heath has been notified by the police.
The Christian Civic League reported receiving other critical comments which said they would “burn in hell” for not believing in “equality for all.” Messages also claimed that Jesus would hate the group and attacked the organization for promoting “hate, bigotry, and lies.”
According to MyFoxMaine.com, the No on 1 campaign said it continues to condemn “any speech or action that doesn’t treat people respectfully… our supporters have also faced similar intimidation from time to time.”
The campaign said it shares the view of Stand For Marriage Maine director Mark Mutty, who said opponents must treat each other as “fellow neighbors and co-workers.”
CNA spoke about the Maine threats with Michael Glatze, a former leader in the homosexual movement who has stopped self-identifying as gay.
“This stuff really gets to me,” he said of the threats. “Anytime you say anything about homosexuality there’s going to be a lot of hate and people are going to get rather riled up and furious. Those are the same people that are looking for hate crime legislation.
“It can be really scary for somebody that’s in a place trying to help and trying to push against all the messages we hear from our society.
“I’m sorry that those people in Maine had to go through that,” Glatze said of the death threats.
Glatze said the issue is “so frightening” right now because some people are “trying to do the right thing” but more and more people say “forget it, I’m not going to bother, I’ll just go ahead with it because I’d rather do that than live in fear.”
He told CNA he is not a supporter of same-sex “marriage” because he believes marriage is “a union of man and woman, a covenant created to support life and the raising of children.”
“It is a godly covenant, not man-made so I think this whole same-sex marriage movement is decidedly arrogant because it claims that man can remake this divine covenant to suit his own particular desires, which are desires in contradiction to human happiness and the success of life.”
The accusation that advocates of traditional marriage are driven by hate, he said, is “horrible” and makes him sick.
Glatze described to CNA his conversations with a former colleague and roommate who is calling him hateful because of his present position.
“The irony is I am quite calm, and the calmer I am the more angry he is and the more vehemently he’s trying to tell me how hateful I am. I don’t have to describe the irony of that.
“The situation is very hard for people because they are so wrapped up in a lifestyle that they have been living for a long time. They are so supported by our culture and increasingly reinforced by messages from charismatic leaders, scientific organization, Hollywood stars, just about everybody except for Christians, unfortunately.”
Asked to discuss his background, Glatze said he first identified as homosexual at the age of 19 and became an activist to try to “make a difference” and “eliminate homophobia.”
“Eventually I was on a panel at Harvard and I was asked to answer a bunch of questions. I can remember speaking a bunch of pro-homosexual viewpoints, and I realized I wasn’t entirely sure I agreed with them.
“Eventually I came to understand that I didn’t agree,” he explained, describing this as a “very, very scary experience” because it meant he had to uproot most of his firm beliefs.
“I ended up moving on from those mistakes of mine and into what was a much more open and non-judgmental way of life, which is of course the opposite of what many gay activists and others like to think.
He said that when he was in that previous mindset, the love of his family truly helped him.
When he was on course to become a prominent leader in the movement, even being profiled in Time Magazine, he said his Christian family had “a love that was the love that you can only have through God.”
“That really seeps through everything, no matter what views a person holds,” he told CNA.
If he would say he had just published the first issue of his pro-homosexual magazine, his family “wouldn’t just judge and say we don’t agree. They would say, Oh good for you Michael, we’re so proud of you.”
“There was a love that just surpassed everything. They were still there, they were still with me. Eventually it was that love that enabled me to change my views.”
Those threatened in Maine and those in other states, he said, should “never stop that love, God’s love, and never doubt it.”
“But at the same time be careful. I think we really need to stay strong and help each other because it is a grave situation,” Glatze said to CNA.
“I’ve had e-mails similarly. They scare me, they make me very nervous.
“That’s our reality right now.”
Milwaukee, Wis., Nov 14, 2009 (CNA) - The Most Rev. Jerome E. Listecki, until now Bishop of La Crosse and a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army, has been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to succeed the Most Rev. Timothy Dolan as the new Archbishop of Milwaukee.
“I am humbled by my selection as the Archbishop of Milwaukee. I will do my best to fulfill the confidence His Holiness Benedict XVI has placed in me," said the Archbishop-elect in a statement.
Jerome Listecki was born March 12, 1949 in Chicago. He attended St. Michael the Archangel Grammar School, Quigley Preparatory Seminary, South High School and Niles College of Loyola University. He began his graduate studies at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary in 1971 and was ordained a priest on May 14, 1975.
His first assignment as a priest was at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Chicago from 1975-1976.
He began his graduate studies in Canon Law and Moral Theology in 1979 at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, Italy earning a licentiate and doctorate degree. In 1976 he earned a civil law degree from DePaul University in Chicago.
Upon returning from Rome, he began teaching Canon Law and Moral Theology at the Archdiocesan major seminary, the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois.
On November 7, 2000 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago by Pope John Paul II and was ordained a bishop on January 8, 2001.
Bishop Listecki is a member of numerous boards and committees, including the National Catholic Bioethics Committee in Boston, Massachusetts.
On March 1, 2005, he was installed as the Ninth Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse. He succeeded Raymond L. Burke, currently Prefect of the Apostolic Signature at the Vatican.
Bishop Listecki led the Diocese of La Crosse with various initiatives including a successful $50 million dollar capital campaign, the individual incorporation and computerization of all 165 parishes of the diocese and the formulation of a diocese-wide pastoral plan. He helped raise over a half-million dollars in Gulf Coast flood relief and assisted in relief efforts for local floods.
During his tenure as bishop, fifteen priests were ordained for the Diocese of La Crosse, with six ordinations in 2009 alone. Twenty-six women from the diocese entered consecrated religious life.
In his statement, the Archbishop-elect said that "the priests, religious, deacons, curial staff and lay faithful of the Diocese of La Crosse have made me a better man, a more faithful priest and hopefully a good bishop."Bishop Listecki will be installed as Archbishop of Milwaukee by the Apostolic Nuncio Pietro Sambi in early January, at a date yet to be determined.