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Archive of October 6, 2011

Catholic League finds Madonna unacceptable for Super Bowl

New York City, N.Y., Oct 6, 2011 (CNA) - Madonna's history of religious provocation makes her unsuitable for a possible halftime stint at Super Bowl XLVI, according to Catholic League President Bill Donohue.

“The NFL would do well to drop any plans it may have about inviting Madonna to perform during the Super Bowl,” Donohue said in an Oct. 4 response to rumors of a planned performance. “For decades, Madonna has blatantly offended Christians, especially Catholics. The offensive lyrics, lewd behavior and misappropriation of sacred symbols are reason enough not to have her perform.”

“Worse, she has repeatedly mocked the heart and soul of Christianity: Jesus, Our Blessed Mother, the Eucharist and the Crucifixion.”

The sports website SB Nation reported on Oct. 3 that next February's halftime entertainment would feature the controversial pop star, who was expected to appear at the 1998 and 2000 games but ultimately did not. Neither the National Football League nor Madonna has confirmed what SB Nation heard from “sources close to the event.”

In recent years, Madonna has been more closely associated with the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah than with her childhood Catholicism. On her 2006 “Confessions tour,” however, she performed one song while suspended from a mirrored cross and wearing a crown of thorns, harking back to her 1980s reputation for using Catholic imagery in a highly sexual context.

The Catholic League president said the NFL would be wise to steer clear of controversy during halftime, as it has since Janet Jackson's embarrassing 2004 “wardrobe malfunction.”

After that February 2004 incident, Donohue recalled, the football league had begun exercising more caution in its halftime entertainment choices.

“In 2004, the NFL invited 'N Sync's JC Chasez to sing during the halftime of the Pro Bowl game. When Chasez said he was going to sing his latest single, 'Some Girls (Dance with Women),' the NFL objected, citing the sexual lyrics that may offend viewers.”

At that time, Chasez agreed to sing a different song, which would have to be lyrically censored. Ultimately, Donohue recalled, “the NFL … reconsidered the propriety of having Chasez sing altogether, and decided to withdraw the invitation.”

The National Football league, Donohue reasoned, should not violate this precedent by inviting a more controversial performer than Chasez, to a much more important game than the Pro Bowl.

“Chasez may be known for some dicey lyrics, but he is chopped meat compared to Madonna,” the Catholic League president said. “If JC Chasez is unacceptable to the NFL to perform during halftime at one of its classic games, Madonna must be deemed unacceptable to perform at the Super Bowl.”

When it comes to cultural sensitivities, Donohue said the National Football League “cannot expect Catholics to be treated any different” than other groups: “There is only one playbook in this game.”

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Maternal health group denied funding over Catholic beliefs

St. John's, Canada, Oct 6, 2011 (CNA) -

A Catholic maternal health group has been denied Canadian government funding for the eleventh time in nearly a decade, while organizations such as Planned Parenthood receive millions from the country.

“We were told that we would never get funding simply because we wouldn't provide reproductive health—that we were 'too Catholic' and too close to the Pope,” Dr. Robert Walley, president of Matercare International, told CNA.

Walley's organization, a group of worldwide Catholic gynecologists and obstetricians, works to reduce the over 330,000 preventable maternal deaths that occur each year in developing countries.

The news was confirmed on Oct. 3 that the group was excluded yet again from funding by the Canadian International Development Agency. This time, it happened in the context of Canada's 2010 Muskoka initiative aimed at providing global maternal health care, immunization and nutrition.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently announced the 28 projects that will split the $82 million in funding between now and 2016. Groups awarded the money include Planned Parenthood—which received $6 million—the United Nations Population Fund and the Canadian Red Cross.

A few Christian organizations such as the Presbyterian World Service and Development, World Vision, and the Christian Children’s Fund of Canada were also given a share.

“Every one of those groups are very large, very wealthy—it means that smaller agencies like us are being frozen out,” Walley said.

He explained that the Canadian development agency “decided some years ago to eliminate smaller NGO's and especially those with certain faith-based backgrounds.”

MaterCare International, which has been operating since 1985, had requested $2.2 million in funding to open a hospital near its thriving clinic in Isiolo, Kenya. “We've done all of this work,” Walley said, “it's existing, it's standing there.”

Adding insult to injury, Walley—a prominent physician who was appointed by Pope John Paul II to serve on the Pontifical Council for Health—was asked for his input on the Muskoka initiative as it was being organized.

“I was invited to the Prime Minister of Canada's office to brief and advise about this initiative” before being denied funding, he recalled. “It's insulting, really.”

Walley also said that MaterCare being refused money based on its Catholic stance against abortion and contraception is a complete non-issue and should have no influence in the agency's decision.

“Abortion and birth control are irrelevant to solving the problem of maternal mortality,” he underscored.

“All the deaths occur during the last three months of pregnancy, during labor and delivery, and one week after—so what on earth is a birth control pill or a condom going to do?”

Stressing the urgency of the issue, Walley explained that maternal mortality is “the number one health problem among women of the child bearing age in the world.” A close second is the devastating and socially ostracizing condition of fistulas, which can occur during birth and only be fixed by an operation.

Walley said that in the West, only around 1 in 10,000 women are at risk of death during childbirth, “but in parts of Africa it's 1 in 7.” To ignore the problem or to obstruct others in their attempt to solve it “is a form of violence to women.”

In response, MaterCare International has called for a new “Marshall Plan” for mothers that would see increased investment in health care for mothers and unborn babies in the developing world. The original Marshall Plan saw billions of U.S. dollars used to rebuild Western Europe after the Second World War, in order to combat the “tyranny” of communism, Walley said.

“What we now need—because we've got a tyranny of the culture of death and we're the only ones who are opposing it—is a Marshall Plan for mothers.”

“Motherhood should be of profound significance to us as a Church,” he emphasized. Not only did “Our Lady, Mary, Mother of God, say 'yes'” but “none of us would be here if we didn't have a mother.”

The Marshall Plan for mothers has already received backing by leaders such as Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who gave his support for the effort at a global conference of Catholic health care professionals in Rome Sept. 2.

Rep. Smith argued that abortion advocates are willing to kill off faith-based health care in the developing world, despite the fact that such agencies provide up to 70 percent of all health provision in many of these countries.

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Bishop Zurek announces private meeting with Fr. Pavone

Amarillo, Texas, Oct 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Patrick J. Zurek of Amarillo, Texas said today that his actions in the situation surrounding Father Frank Pavone are tied to his pastoral concern for the national director of Priests for Life. The bishop also announced that he has invited Fr. Pavone to a private meeting on Oct. 13.

“As a diocesan bishop, I am obligated to show concern for the well being and ministry of all our priests,” Bishop Zurek said in an Oct. 6 statement.

“I support with no exception the various ministries that the priests of our diocese carry out for the common good of the Church,” he added.

Bishop Zurek said that it is because of this concern that he is “seeking clarifications and answers to concerns about the administration of the Priests For Life organization and other related entities of which Fr. Pavone has a leadership role.”

The move is the latest in a situation involving Fr. Pavone being called back to the Amarillo diocese by Bishop Zurek—whose jurisdiction he is under—from his pro-life ministry in New York state.

“I called Fr. Pavone home to his Diocese of Amarillo because of my concern for him as one of my priests,” Bishop Zurek said in his Oct. 6 statement.

“The relationship of a bishop to a priest is one of a father to a son and a brother to a brother. I have asked him to pray and reflect on the sacramental ministerial priesthood that he and I share in Christ Jesus.”

Bishop Zurek had announced in a strongly-worded Sept. 9 letter to his fellow bishops that he had suspended Fr. Pavone from public ministry outside the diocese, beginning Sept. 13.

The bishop cited “deep concerns regarding his stewardship of the finances of the Priests for Life (PFL) organization.” At the time, available records indicated that the 990 Forms submitted to the IRS from 2008 show Priests for Life had income totaling $10.8 million.

After the bishop’s suspension became public, Fr. Pavone produced professional audits of Priests for Life for the years 2005-2010, which he said were sent to the diocese every year. While the organization did well in previous years, Priests for Life ran a $1.4 million deficit in 2010.

What remains unclear, diocesan officials say, are the finances of Rachel’s Vineyard and Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, two affiliated ministries. According to Fr. Pavone, audits for those groups are still being completed.

Meanwhile, Fr. Pavone is appealing his suspension from active ministry outside the diocese to the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy and is denying charges that he disobeyed the bishop and failed to have Priests for Life audited.

Bishop Zurek clarified in his Oct. 6 statement that ultimately, he wants “what is best for all organizations that support and promote those teachings that come from the heart of the Catholic Church on the dignity and gift of human life.”

“I have always supported the proclamation of the Gospel of Life,” he underscored.

He also said that wants to make “a distinction between my relationship with Fr. Pavone as a priest of the Diocese of Amarillo of which I am the Bishop,” and “my relationship with Fr. Pavone as the Director of the PFL organization and other related organizations.”

“I am inviting Fr. Pavone to a private meeting between me and him in my office on October 13, 2011 to discuss his spiritual progress during this time of prayer and reflection,” the bishop said.

“I invite all concerned to join me in prayer for both Fr. Pavone and myself for a fruitful and productive dialogue. In the end, it is my desire to see Priests For Life and all pro-life ministries flourish.”

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Vatican cardinal warns priests not to let humanity overshadow God

Los Angeles, Calif., Oct 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, recently addressed priests and seminarians in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Calif. He told them that the world urgently needs holy priests who avoid allowing their humanity to cast a shadow over the beauty of the Lord.

Cardinal Piacenza gave four addresses during his visit to the archdiocese, focusing on the identity of the priest, the centrality of Scripture, the vital importance of the Eucharist and the urgent need for holiness in the life of every priest.
 
In his homily for a Mass celebrated at the archdiocesan seminary on Oct. 4, the cardinal meditated on the example of St. Francis of Assisi, who “set the world on fire with missionary zeal and reoriented the eyes and hearts of Catholics toward that which is essential: Jesus of Nazareth, the eternal word made man, died and risen!”
 
“The experience of a vocation is always one of great predilection, undeserved and never the fruit of human efforts, but rather a free gift of the mercy of God. In a vocation, we all have been ‘taken by Christ,’ enveloped in his loving design, embraced in a story that will never end!”
 
“This insertion into the divine life, which begins at holy baptism, and for us is extraordinarily renewed by our priestly vocation, has a sense of totality. Christ gives everything and asks for everything!” the cardinal continued.
 
As St. Francis exemplified in his life, this total surrendering of the priest is offered on the cross, whose memorial we celebrate each day in the Eucharist, which should be “the true center of the life of a seminary and a seminarian.”
 
“Without this prayerful Eucharistic centrality, which surpasses every other means of formation, there is no authentic priestly formation. For this reason, an authentic and correct liturgical life is so important! A man of the Eucharist is formed in the school of the Eucharist.”
 
For this reason, he said, “we must pray with insistence for that radicalism and fervor that St. Francis had for all those who are preparing today for the priestly ministry.” 
 
Cardinal Piancenza encouraged seminarians to live their time of formation with great intensity and to work hard so that “no part of our humanity will ever cast a shadow over the beauty and attraction of the Lord!”
 
Seminary is a time of preparation in the truth, “not in the opinions of one theologian or another, but rather in the truth that God has revealed about himself and that, throughout the different eras of history, always remains unchanging, like Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever!” the cardinal added.
 
The Word of God in the life of the priest

On Oct. 3, Cardinal Piacenza gave an address to seminarians titled, “The Word of God in the Life of the Priest,” in which he meditated on the apostolic exhortation “Verbum Domini.”
 
Speaking in Spanish, he explained the importance of the Second Vatican Council for the life of the Catholic Church and that it should not be viewed as a break with the past. “It is always good to recall that the only authentic hermeneutic of the great conciliar event is that of continuity and reform.”

“There are not two Catholic Churches, one pre-counciliar and one post-counciliar. If that were the case, the latter would be illegitimate.”
 
Cardinal Piacenza said that this perspective is essential for understanding the function of Sacred Scripture in the life of every priest. The Word of God, he said, “is a person and not a book. It is necessary to recognize that when it comes to the writings from which it is inspired, Christianity maintains a unique relationship that no other religious tradition can have.” 
 
These Scriptures, he said, cannot be separated from tradition. “It is never licit to separate Scripture from tradition, just as it is never licit to separate them from the interpretation that the Magisterium of the Church gives and has given them. These kinds of separations always entail very grave spiritual and pastoral consequences.”
 
“Scripture without tradition would be an historical book, and history tells us what others think, while Theology seeks to tell us about God.”
 
“The triptych of Scripture-Tradition-Magisterium, from the strictly historical point of view, should really be configured as: Tradition, understood as the place in which Scripture is brought forth, Scripture and tradition linked to Scripture; and everything authoritatively interpreted by the Magisterium, that is, by the legitimate successors of the apostles,” the cardinal explained.
 
This kind of configuration wisely prevents “illegitimate” one-sidedness. In order to read, know and follow the Sacred Scriptures, a priest should read them always taking into account the pneumatic aspect, that is, the essential participation of the Holy Spirit. “If Christ is the fullness of revelation and the entire existence of Christ is in the Spirit, then revelation itself is a pneumatic event: the Spirit animates tradition, the Spirit inspires Scripture and the Spirit guides the Magisterium in the task of authoritatively interpreting Scripture and tradition,” the cardinal said.
 
He underscored that in reading the Scriptures in the Spirit, “any focus that is merely positivist or limited to historicism and that does not allow for the understanding of the real meaning of the text should be avoided. If we approach the Scriptures overlooking their pneumatic dimension, they end up saying nothing, and instead of talking to us about God and making us hear his voice, they simply narrate a story.”
 
After underscoring the importance of the Liturgy of the Hours in the life of the priest, Cardinal Piacenza explained that because of the ministry entrusted to them, priests are not just “hearers of the Word, like the rest of our brothers and sisters, but also its authorized proclaimers and interpreters.”  For this reason, he added, “(w)e cannot proclaim what we do not know and have not made our own; consequently, the possibility to proclaim is structurally linked to knowledge of the Scriptures and familiarity and identification with the thinking of Christ.”
 
No “mechanism” for this process exists, he said, but only a profound interior life that allows us to make Christ and his message alive for the transforming of everyday culture. “Nothing creates culture like the proclamation of the Word. In other words, it creates a new way of envisioning life, relationships, society and even politics. The more evangelical this new way is, the more we discover how deeply and surprisingly it corresponds to the human heart,” the cardinal said.
 
Men of the Eucharist

Cardinal Piacenza also celebrated Mass with the Spanish-speaking priests of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on Oct. 3, reminding them that the Eucharist should be at the center of a priest’s life.
 
“Any other understanding of the ministry …  runs the risk of becoming a substantial reduction. A priest is and must be mainly a man of the Eucharist, in accord with the broad meaning of this great sacrament. Therefore, he most certainly should not reduce the ministry to a mere cultural function.”
 
More is demanded of priests than of the laity, he continued, “because the priest has been given so much more! This is not about returning to old forms of clericalism, which in the past damaged ecclesial communion, but rather of heeding in a simple, honorable and faithful way what Christ established for his Church: the concrete way he has chosen to continue to be the salvific presence at man’s side throughout history.” 

As the administrator of sacraments such as reconciliation, a priest’s good example must always shine forth, since “there should be nothing in a priest that does not point to redemption!” 

In this way priests should continually become “more perfect ‘living images’ of the Christ the Good Shepherd. This is what the holy People of God expect; this is what the Lord expects of us: that we make him and his salvation present in the world.”
 
Holy priests

On Oct. 4, Cardinal Piacenza delivered an address in Italian to the seminarians of Los Angeles in which he explained that what the world needs most today is the holiness of each believer.  The primacy of God in one’s life must be expressed in a life of prayer and divine intimacy, he said. “The Church needs men of God, not administrators! …The Church needs men who are believers and who are believable. Men who, embracing the Lord’s call, become his enthusiastic witnesses in the world!” 
 
“Amid the tempests of the dominant culture,” he continued, “the Church needs men who …  are firmly at the helm of their own lives, of the communities entrusted to them and of the faithful who seek light and aid on their journey of faith.”
 
He also underscored the importance of intellectual formation, which should always be oriented toward passing on the clear content of the faith with rational arguments, inspired by the example of holy priests.
 
Among the key elements of this formation, he continued, are knowledge of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and of the documents of the Second Vatican Council interpreted correctly, “according to what the council actually said in its documents to the Church and to the world.”
 
After reiterating at there is no such thing as a “pre-counciliar or post-counciliar Church,” Cardinal Piacenza said, “(t)he true priority and the true modernity, dear friends, is holiness! Holiness is the only way for there to be authentic and profound reform, and we need reform!”
 
“There is no seminary for holiness except that of the grace of Our Lord and the freedom that is humbly receptive to his action of renewal and manifestation.”

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Vatican daily remembers Steve Jobs as 'visionary' of technology and art

Rome, Italy, Oct 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano remembered Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, as a “visionary who united technology and art.”
 
The newspaper underscored that Jobs, who died at age 56 on Oct. 5 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, “was one of the leaders and symbols of the Silicon Valley revolution.”
 
This revolution was also one of “habits, mentalities and culture.  A revolution that was an offshoot, but not an heir, of the lax ‘70s” 
 
Jobs “was a visionary who united technology and art. True, he wasn’t a technician or an entrepreneur.  He was not a designer or a mathematician. Neither was he the typical nerd or showman. Was he a pirate or a pioneer? History will be the judge. In the meantime, his genius creations remain with us,” L’Osservatore Romano said.
 
From “unwanted pregnancy” to genius

Steve Jobs was born on Feb. 24, 1955. He was given up for adoption by his mother Joanne Simpson because of her father’s opposition to her relationship with Jobs’ Syrian father, Abdulfattah John Jandali.
 
Joanne and Abdulfattah eventually married after the death of her father. They had a daughter and tried to get their son back but it was legally impossible.
 
Jobs was raised by a working-class family. In 1976 he founded the company Apple in his garage with Steve Wozniak. “In just 10 years, it became a $2 billion company,” the Vatican newspaper recalled.
 
On Jan. 24, 1984, Apple launched the Macintosh 128K, the first personal computer to be successful in the market. It used a Graphic User Interface and a mouse instead of line commands.
 
In 2001 Jobs launched the iPod, a device that “reached the hearts and minds of thousands of people.”  “Talent. Pure talent,” L’Osservatore Romano said.
 
The new director of the magazine Civilta Cattolica, Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J., said Jobs' greatest contribution lies “in the fact that technology, for him, was part of life” and not something “reserved to the techies,” but rather for “our everyday lives.”
 
Fr. Sparado recalled Pope Pius XI’s early understanding of the power of communications. He said that both Jobs and the Pope understood “that communication is the greatest value we have at our disposal today and that we should put it to use.

“He brought together a great capacity for innovation and a great capacity for creating.”
 
“In the end, Steve Jobs’ most important message is ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish.’  That is, always maintain the capacity to see life in new terms,” Fr. Sparado said in reference to Jobs’ famous commencement speech at Stanford in 2005.
 
This outlook has to do with the ability to see beyond the limits. “It’s something we call all learn from,” he said.

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Foster care fight ends Peoria Catholic Charities’ work with state

Peoria, Ill., Oct 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholic Charities of Peoria is withdrawing from Illinois state-funded social services because state laws and public policy have “increasingly clashed” with Church teachings and the partnership is no longer a “viable option,” Bishop Daniel Jenky announced Oct. 6.

“Withdrawing from the ongoing litigation and these services is not a decision that was made lightly,” the bishop said.

The Diocese of Peoria has fought since June to have the courts affirm the legality of Catholic Charities’ “longstanding practice” of referring unmarried couples to other licensed child welfare agencies to process foster home applications.

On June 1 the state’s civil unions law went into effect, establishing legal privileges for same-sex and opposite-sex couples in civil unions. Despite the law’s purported protections for religious freedom, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services said it was ending its contract with Catholic Charities because of the agencies’ alleged refusal to obey the law.

Robert Gilligan, executive director of the Illinois Catholic Conference, told CNA on Oct. 6 that to his knowledge no other Catholic Charities agencies in the states would make a similar move. Rather, they are still pursuing legal remedies to the state’s decision to end the foster care contracts.

Catholic Charities in the Dioceses of Belleville, Springfield and Joliet are involved in the litigation and the wider controversy over whether Catholic Charities can continue to cooperate with the state in a changing legal and political climate.

Bishop Jenky said Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria has partnered with the state for nearly a century because Catholic teaching requires Christians to serve “the most poor and vulnerable.” But increasing conflicts mean this partnership cannot continue, he said.

Patricia Gibson, chancellor and general counselor for both Catholic Charities and the Diocese of Peoria, said Catholic Charities will be withdrawing from all state contracts “in the next few months.”

The prevention of disruption to foster care services for children and families is the primary concern of both the agency and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, she said.

The department will partner with a new nonprofit entity, the Center for Youth and Family Solutions, to transition the cases. Catholic Charities has agreed to cooperate with the transition, but it and the diocese will have no connection with the new entity.

“These abused and neglected children deserve a solution that will minimalize disruption in their lives,” Gibson said. “While I am saddened to see Catholic Charities withdraw from this valued good work, I hope that this transition will provide stability for each client family as well as bring peace of mind to the committed staff in these programs.”

Bishop Jenky said that Catholic Charities of Peoria will continue its “rich tradition of service” in 26 counties of central Illinois.

“The agency will continue our witness of God’s love throughout the Diocese by expanding our longstanding core services to the poor, the needy, and the vulnerable,” he said.

Catholic Charities of Peoria will continue its emergency assistance to the poor, food assistance to the hungry, support and outreach for the growing Hispanic populations, immigration services, senior support, and disaster response services.

The agency will also continue its pro-life and pro-family counseling and social justice advocacy throughout the diocese.

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North American College welcomes 35 new deacons with joy

Vatican City, Oct 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The Pontifical North American College in Rome is celebrating the ordination of 35 new deacons at an Oct. 6 ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica. The overriding sentiment of the newly ordained men was how joyful they are for their vocations.

“Ordained ministry in the Church is an expression of this command to love,” preached Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who presided over the ordinations at the basilica’s Altar of the Chair.

“Indeed,” the cardinal reflected, “it is the privileged way … to encounter the fire of divine love; to be transformed by it; and so impelled to share that same transforming love with the Church and the world.” 

Before a congregation of over 1,200 people, Cardinal Levada explained that the word “deacon” means “one who serves” and that the 35 new deacons would now do just that “in the threefold ministry of the Sacred Liturgy, of the Word, and of charity.”

Following the homily, the ordinands prostrated themselves on the marble floor of the sanctuary as a gesture of humility and supplication before God. One by one, they were then ordained by Cardinal Levada, before donning their new diaconal garb for the first time - in this case, matching dalmatics and stoles of white damask silk with golden trim.

Friends and family looked on with pride, many wearing papal yellow and white flowers, while the choir of the North American College provided an impressive classical repertoire to match the grandeur of the occasion.

And after it was all over – and out of view of the congregation – it was time for hugs, tears and backslapping.

“Wow. I’m feeling great. It’s such an amazing experience to be ordained a holy deacon of God. So much peace. I’m just looking forward to serving God’s people now,” said 27-year-old Deacon Jason Adams from the Diocese of Savannah, Ga.

“I’m so excited. I’m so happy. It’s been such a huge build up and it’s just fantastic. I’m very, very emotional at the moment. That’s all I can say,” responded 28-year-old Michael Gallacher of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australia.

There to congratulate them were the ambassadors to the Holy See from both Australia and the United States.

“It’s always a great opportunity to celebrate when others are ordained for service,” said U.S. Ambassador Miguel Díaz. This was “a great opportunity for us, especially as Americans, to celebrate the ordination of deacons who will return to service not only the Catholic people of God but all human beings.”

“I’m just very grateful for the gift of today,” said 25-year-old Deacon Jacob Strand of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee as he posed afterward for a family photograph.

He said that during the ceremony he was “was just sitting there with Our Lady and Our Lord and just kind of relishing the moment, enjoying every moment of it.” At the same time Strand was also looking forward with excitement “to see how life will now change being configured to Christ the servant.”

“It’s awesome. It’s a miracle-in-the-making right here,” said his dad, Jerry Strand, who stood  next to his wife Bernadette and their two other sons – Fr. Luke who is a priest and Vincent who is a Jesuit seminarian. 

“When your kids are happy doing what they’re doing, it’s just a fabulous thing, especially when Jesus is the center of their life,” he said.

Also present today were several members of the America episcopate including Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota.

“Well, when I see one of my own being ordained it gives me a great joy; I feel like a father. And as a shepherd I know the faith is going to continue to be handed on in the diocese,” Bishop Aquila said.

He added, “it just brings tremendous joy to my heart and gratitude to the Father for the gift of vocations.”

After the ceremony, the inner courtyard of the North American College hosted a celebratory reception beneath the warm afternoon Roman sun.

“It’s a beautiful day, of course, a great day of rejoicing for all of us, for all the good things the Lord has done for the Church and for these men,” said Monsignor James Checchio, rector of the college.

Msgr. Checchio said he hopes he has helped instill “a good solid relationship of the Lord” in the new deacons who will now “pass on that deep love that they’ve experienced in their relationship with Lord so that others can share in it too and know him more fully.”

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