CNA STAFF, Jan 31, 2010 (CNA) -
Today the Church commemorates the life of St. John Bosco, a priest of humble origins who was devoted to helping boys make something of themselves. Don Bosco’s story is an inspiring example of God’s ability to express his will through dreams.
The founder of the Salesian order, St. John Bosco, began his life as a poor farm boy. Because his father died while John was very young, his mother did her best to hold the family together and was a model of faith for the young John and his brothers.
John was known throughout the village of Recchi, Italy, where he spent much of his youth, for his acrobatics and juggling feats. Conscious of God, he would stop and ask his spectators to join him in prayer before beginning any of his performances.
He used this talent of attracting people’s attention to minister to the young boys who often roamed the streets. His ministry was not accepted by many, as people only saw a rough, unruly and dirty crowd of boys following John Bosco to Mass instead of the miracle of such boys receiving the sacraments.
It s said that Bosco received his mission from God in a dream. When he was nine years old, he dreamed that he was in a field with a group of children. The children started cursing and fighting, so John tried to stop them.
John found himself to be ineffective because he did exactly what they were doing to make them stop. All of a sudden, a man whose face was full of light, covered in a white mantle, appeared. He made John the leader of the group, saying, “You will have to win these friends of yours not with blows but with gentleness and kindness.”
Don Bosco, as the saint was called after he was ordained, spent his entire adult life ministering to the needs of the children on the streets. He worked to help both boys and girls, educating them, bringing them to the sacraments, and teaching them the trades of shoemaking, tailoring, or to run a printing press.
Pope Pius XI encouraged Don Bosco to gather a group together to continue his ministry. With 17 other men, he founded the Salesians, named after St. Francis de Sales. Later, he organized a group of Salesian Sisters to minister to girls. Today, the Salesians are the second largest religious order in the world. Their ministry continues to serve the youth by focusing on the whole person, body and soul united.
St. John Bosco died in 1888 at the age of 73. He is the patron saint of youth, young apprentices, Catholic publishers and editors.
North Providence, R.I., Jan 31, 2010 (CNA) -
For many elderly or disabled individuals, winter is a unsettling time filled with depression brought on by escalating utility bills, social isolation and many other factors. "There is a fear factor in winter when you are alone,” began Susan, 59, who suffers from Rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments that leave her unable to work. She recently received 100 gallons of oil from Bishop Thomas J. Tobin’s “Keep the Heat On” challenge, a program that the grateful recipient emphasized will make a significant difference in the quality of her life this winter.
Susan once enjoyed a successful career as a nonprofit consultant and lived in a spacious apartment on Providence’s East Side. She recalled that she had many clients and conducted more than 50 capital campaigns on behalf of some of Rhode Island’s largest nonprofit organizations.
“I was in the business of taking from the rich and giving it to the needy,” she said, adding that she never dreamed that her circumstances would change and she would someday be looking for assistance.
Susan said she abandoned her career more than a decade ago when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. She drove the ailing woman to doctor’s appointments and chemotherapy treatments as the cancer progressed.
“I did it all by myself,”Susan admitted. “I decided to give up my lifelong profession out of love.”
After her mother died, Susan worked as an office manager for a prominent architectural firm in Providence, but lost her job when she suffered an injury that left her incapacitated and temporarily prevented her from working. She moved back to the family home, honoring the promise that she had made to her dying mother.
“I was just devastated,” she recalled. “I was all alone and emotionally crushed. I had a lot to offer.”
Susan’s life continued to spiral out of control as she lived off a small inheritance and watched her home fall into disrepair.
“I was getting hungry,” she continued. “I didn’t know how to run the house. I didn’t know anything about the furnace.”
Friends suggested that Susan see a social worker, who helped her obtain necessary services and helped her apply for a disability pension.
“I put my head on the desk and just cried,” she remembered of her initial meeting with the state social worker several years ago.
Susan receives a small pension and has to account for every purchase. She worries about having enough oil and getting through the winter is a major concern.
For the past two years, she has received a $650 award from the The Tri-Town Community Action Agency, a private non-profit corporation, which provides a wide range of social services to the disadvantaged of northwestern Rhode Island.
Susan designated the fuel assistance award be sent to a local oil company to draw from the account, but became worried when the funds were almost depleted so early in the season. An oil company secretary then helped Susan to obtain assistance from “Keep the Heat On,” which paid for 100 gallons of heating oil to help keep her house warm.
“My balance was almost tapped out,” she said, noting that she usually keeps the thermometer at 50 degrees to save oil.
After receiving the oil, Susan said she sent a letter to Jim Jahnz, coordinator of the “Keep the Heat On” challenge, expressing her thanks.
“Besides keeping people warm, it gives people peace of mind,” she said. “It’s terrifying to be on a short budget, not knowing what the winter conditions will be in February and March.”
Susan said that she is “enormously grateful and humbled” for the assistance that she received from the “Keep the Heat On” challenge.
“If my situation ever changes, I will certainly send money to “Keep the Heat On” to help someone in this position,” she emphasized. “I want people to know the magnitude of contributing to this cause. It’s more than heat. It’s contributing to one’s sanity. I am very grateful.”
Printed with permission from The Rhode Island Catholic, newspaper for the Diocese of Providence, R.I.
Memphis, Tenn., Jan 31, 2010 (CNA) - A Catholic group is again leading a multi-national prayer effort to organize one million Rosaries for unborn babies. Participants will pray for an end to the “surgical and non-surgical killing of unborn human persons.”
The 2009 event had participants from more than 35 countries, reported the effort organizer, Patrick Benedict of the Memphis-based Saint Michael the Archangel Organization. More than 60,000 Rosaries were scheduled to be prayed last year.
He said he was grateful for last year’s participation and said he hoped millions of people will commit to pray the Rosary for “the babies who cannot pray the rosary themselves.”
The organization is asking people to pray at least one Hail Mary as part of the effort. Participants should say at least one Rosary on May 7, 8 or 9 for the intention of ending the killing of the unborn. Participants are encouraged to pray more than one Rosary.
The Friday May 7 date is particularly meant for students to pray the rosary at schools, while the Sunday May 9 date will allow people to pray the Rosary before or after Masses.
Participants are asked to register for the event at the organization’s website or by mailing their name and number of Rosaries to be prayed to the group. Parishes, schools, organizations, etc. are welcome to register many Rosaries at the same time, the Saint Michael the Archangel Organization says.
Promotional materials are available at the website, http://www.SaintMichaelTheArchangelOrganization.org
Latrobe, Pa., Jan 31, 2010 (CNA) - St. Vincent College of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the United States’ oldest Benedictine college, has announced it has chosen as its next president Br. Norman W. Hipps, OSB, a mathematics professor and administrator.
Br. Norman, a Benedictine monk, is presently the college’s executive vice president and dean of the Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computing, the college reported in a press release.
“I am honored to be given the opportunity to serve as President of Saint Vincent College and I formally accept this appointment with gratitude and humility,” Br. Norman said at a news conference.
He said that for more than 160 years the college has served students by offering an education that prepares students to make a living and also prepares them “how to live.”
“This philosophy of education combines the basics necessary for success in a profession with the creative, life-affirming values of the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts tradition. We will continue to build on our strong academic programs, as well as our community that makes it possible for us to grow in learning and in love.”
Br. Norman thanked outgoing President Jim Towey for his leadership and said they would work together during the transition.
The monk also thanked his fellow Benedictine brothers, alumni and benefactors for their support.
Towey said he was excited for Br. Norman and the college.
“Br. Norman has been a big part of Saint Vincent College’s success and it is fitting that his decades of leadership on this campus culminate in this appointment,” he commented.
Archabbot Douglas of the St. Vincent Benedictines explained that after a review of candidates it was decided a “superior candidate” was available within the community. He said Br. Norman will pursue the college’s mission with an emphasis on enhancing its financial resources and academic reputation.
J. Christopher Donahue, chair of the college’s board of directors, praised as “unparalleled” Br. Norman’s leadership and administrative skills, his love for the college and his ability to win supporters.
“Furthermore, his endless patience, his wisdom, outstanding educational background and experience, and his demonstrated commitment to community service and to the values and teachings of the Catholic tradition, bring together in one unique individual all of the qualities needed to take Saint Vincent College confidently into the future,” Donohue commented.
Br. Norman professed simple vows with the St. Vincent Benedictines in 1963 and made his solemn vows in 1966. He has served on the faculty of St. Vincent’s College since 1972 and has filled many administrative roles.
His community outreach includes work in small business programs, drug and alcohol abuse prevention projects, and science and math education efforts.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree from St. Vincent College in 1966, he pursued graduate studies in theology at St. Vincent Seminary. At Northwestern University he earned a Master of Arts degree in Mathematics in 1972 and a Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1976.
Br. Norman is a member of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America.
The most recent two presidents of St. Vincent’s College have been laity. With Br. Norman, the college returns to having a president who is a member of the Benedictine Order.
Vatican City, Jan 31, 2010 (CNA) -
Pope Benedict XVI in his address before the Angelus discussed St. Paul's "hymn of love" and the importance of love as the "badge of the Christian" and the “greatest” gift.
In First Corinthians, the Holy Father said, St. Paul shows us the “way of perfection" in the verses of his "hymn to love." Benedict XVI called the verses of Sunday’s reading "one of the most beautiful pages in the New Testament."
According to Paul, he continued, the way "does not consist of possessing exceptional qualities: speaking other languages, knowing all of the mysteries, having a prodigious faith or doing heroic acts. It consists, rather, of love - agape ... true love, that which God has revealed to us in Jesus Christ.
"Love is the 'greatest' gift, that gives value to all the others," taught the Holy Father.
After quoting excerpts regarding the nature of this love and its manifestation from St. Paul's letter, Pope Benedict added:
"In the end, when we find ourselves face-to-face with God, all of the other gifts will disappear; the only one that will remain eternally will be love, because God is love and we will be like Him, in perfect communion with Him."
"For now, while we are in this world, love is the badge of the Christian ... it is what he believes and that which he does."
Citing his first encyclical "Deus Caritas Est," the Holy Father recalled that love has two aspects: "its meaning and ... its practical realization."
"In Jesus Christ, these two aspects form a perfect unity," he explained. "He is the incarnate Love. This Love is fully revealed to us in Christ crucified."
Benedict XVI concluded by reflecting on the Saints, among whom are a “variety” of spiritual gifts and human characters, but each one’s life is “a 'hymn to love,' a living canticle to the love of God!"
He ended his address by remembering St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian Family and patron saint of young people, whose feast is celebrated on Sunday. The Holy Father asked for his intercession "so that priests are always educators and fathers of young people, and that, experiencing this pastoral love, many young people welcome the call to give their lives for Christ and the Gospel."
Vatican City, Jan 31, 2010 (CNA) - A group from Italian Catholic Action of Rome all but took over St. Peter's Square for Sunday's Angelus. They had made a "caravan" across the city earlier that morning to promote peace, especially in the Holy Land.
On Sunday the second annual Day of Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land was celebrated in Rome. Along with their parents and educators, youth members from Catholic Action of Rome (ACR) were on hand to celebrate the culmination of their observation of the "Month for Peace" and, especially, to raise awareness and funds for peace in the Holy Land.
The youth had organized the "Caravan for Peace," in which they made the pilgrimage to St. Peter's Square from the Navona Square a mile away, to "take their witness of peace to the streets of the city." Singing and whistling along the procession route, they showed a general enjoyment.
Upon arriving at St. Peter's, the association used a stage they had set up in the center of the Square. Despite rain, they maintained a festive atmosphere with more song and dance during the period before the Angelus
Cardinal Vicar of Rome Agostino Vallini was also on hand to lead the group in prayer just minutes ahead of Pope Benedict's appearance in the window of his Vatican apartment for the recitation of the Marian prayer.
At the Angelus' conclusion, two children from the ACR joined the Holy Father in the window to deliver a message on behalf of the association. One of these children explained that another goal of their initiative was to raise funds to contribute to the reconstruction of a multimedia center in the Holy Land at the Catholic Action Institute of Bethlehem.
After seeing the disastrous effects of the Haitian earthquake on children, the young girl added, they had also been "praying so much for them." They would also be dedicating some of the funds they had gathered during the "Month for Peace" to the children of the island nation.
Following the greetings, the Pope and the children released a pair of white doves to mark the occasion. In doing so, Benedict XVI said, they were "giving everyone a sign of hope."
Vatican City, Jan 31, 2010 (CNA) - In a rain-soaked St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father recognized the World Day for Leprosy on Sunday. After the Angelus, he sent a special greeting to a delegation from a local Italian chapter of an international association working for the eradication of the disease.
"A special greeting to the Italian Association of Friends of Raoul Follereau!" said Pope Benedict, waving to representatives of the group who held aloft a banner in the Square below.
Members of the group represent an initiative started by French-born writer Raoul Follereau, who was first introduced to the ravages of leprosy after he was sent on assignment to the Sahara in 1936.
According to a biography from the Association's Italian branch, upon encountering "leprosy-affected persons" there for the first time, he was so moved that he became a lifetime advocate for those who suffered from the disease.
Follereau gave 1,200 conferences worldwide on leprosy in the following ten years alone, wanting to free victims from the “segregation” and the stigma of the disease. He visited and befriended them to promote the idea that “leprosy-affected persons are human beings."
The overall objective of his international efforts for 40 years was to raise awareness about the poverty, injustice and indifference which worsened the victims’ plight.
In his message to observe the World Day for Leprosy of 2010, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Ministry, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, also recognized "individual and collective poverty" as the underlying causes of the perpetuation of leprosy today.
Branches of the Association of Friends of Raoul Follereau are present in 23 countries on three continents and have observed the last Sunday of January as the World Day for Leprosy since it was established by their founder in 1954.
Pope Benedict also remembered recently canonized St. Damien of Molokai after the Angelus and entrusted the care and protection of the sick and those that care for them "so that a leprosy-free world can exist."