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Archive of November 24, 2011

A daughter keeps her word, as her husband takes it one step further

Kansas City, Mo., Nov 24, 2011 (CNA) -

Hollywood used to write love stories like this, but a cynical world stopped believing them.

It was around 2 a.m. on June 9, 1944, when 15-year-old Mary Michler and her friends, who had taken the wrong bus on their way home from the movies, walked into Pops, a Kansas City hamburger joint at 44th and Prospect.

Charles Cahill, who was celebrating his high school graduation that night, fell in love. At first glance. For both of them.

“I knew the girl she was with, so I had her introduce me,” Charles said. “I told my best friend the next morning that I met the girl I was going to marry.”

What followed was 67 years of love, not just that between a man and a woman, but also between a father and daughter, that survived through hurt, torment, rejection, before finally coming to a place of acceptance and peace, and love between a people and a church always willing to welcome home.

Charles courted Mary for a year against the express orders of her father. He was 18 and she was just 16 when Charles popped the question. Of course she would marry him.

But her father was furious.

“I gave her an engagement ring, a diamond, and he threw it out the dining room window,” Charles said.

“I went out and found it,” Mary said. “I was lucky to have found it.”

They would have preferred to have the blessing of Mary’s parents. But since they didn’t, they weren’t going to stop loving each other. They just changed their wedding plans.

On Sept. 27, 1945, they took off for Paola, Kan., and were married before a justice of the peace who, fortunately for them, asked no questions — including Mary’s age.

“The judge who married us had a big drinking problem,” Charles said. “It was probably the only way we could get married.”

They returned to the home of Charles’s parents, where they planned to live. Mary’s parents met them.

“My mother tapped me on the shoulder and told me, ‘You’re coming with us,’” Mary said. Her parents refused to let her even leave the house for two weeks.

Finally, with Mary’s mother backing her up, her father relented and let her join Charles — but not before he virtually disowned her.

Three months later, Charles was drafted into the Army, and Mary wanted to live with her parents.

“I told my Dad that Charles left for the service,” Mary said. “He told me, ‘What do you want me to do about it?’” Heartbroken, she moved back with Charles’s parents.

But even two years of military separation couldn’t dull the love between Charles and Mary.

Charles reached for his wallet, but Mary quickly snatched out of his hands. “Don’t you dare show that,” she snapped.

So he instead described what he carried in every wallet he has owned for the last 65 years.

“When I was stationed in Japan, Mary sent me a letter. Inside that letter was a picture of the most gorgeous girl you’ll ever see, wearing a bathing suit,” he said, with a wink. “I’ve carried that picture around with me all these years.”

Years went by and the breach between Mary and her father slowly healed, thanks to the love of her mother.

“She backed me up so much,” Mary said.

Charles was also hurt, but never lost respect for his father-in-law.

“I never had anything against him,” he said. “And I always got along with her brothers.”

When they had been married 25 years, Mary’s mother died, and her father was in failing health. She did what a daughter does. She took him into her home.

“He didn’t have any place to go,” she said.

Her father lived for six months, but asked Mary to promise him one thing — that she and Charles would have their marriage blessed in the Catholic Church.

She made that promise just before he died, but had no idea how to fulfill it. Charles wasn’t Catholic, and Mary had stopped practicing her Catholic faith when they were married in a civil ceremony.

Forty-one more years passed, and Mary couldn’t forget.

This summer, she decided to act.

“We were talking and I told Charles that we had made this promise to my father,” she said. “I told him it was time.”

It was Charles who took the big step. He knew of no place else to call but St. Therese Little Flower Church, where Mary was baptized in 1929.

After listening to her story, Father Ernie Davis, administrator of the parish, told her the good news — of course the Church will bless a marriage going on 66 years.

It could even be a sacramental marriage as long as both of them were baptized Christians. That was no problem for Mary. Her baptismal record was still at St. Therese.

But Charles said he might have been baptized as an infant in the Baptist tradition — which ordinarily does not baptize infants — but wouldn’t even begin to know where to look for any record of it.

So he took one more step. Charles told Father Davis that he wanted to join Mary as she resumed her practice of the Catholic faith.

On Sept. 27, 2011, 66 years after they stood before a less-than-sober justice of the peace in Paola, Kan., Charles and Mary Cahill received their sacramental marriage.

On Nov. 6, 2011, Charles Cahill was baptized and confirmed during the 11:15 a.m. Mass, then he for the first time in his life, and Mary for the first time in decades, received Holy Communion.

“It’s wonderful,” Mary said. “It’s been a wonderful life with him, even before I made the promise to my father. And it’s wonderful now.”

Printed with permission from the Catholic Key, newspaper for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, Mo.

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Every bishop must defend the faith, Vatican official says

Vatican City, Nov 24, 2011 (CNA) - Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect for the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops, said that every bishop is required to proclaim the Church's teachings to modern society.

Bishops should be “capable of publicly defending the faith,” Cardinal Ouellet underscored. “In addition to the virtues that are normally demanded of a bishop, this capacity is particularly necessary today.”

In an interview with the Italian daily L’Avvenire on Nov. 18, Cardinal Ouellet described the involved process of selecting a new bishop which requires taking the opinions of numerous people into account.

“This research provides important elements for ruling out certain candidates and accepting and proposing others,” he said. “In some cases, additional inquiries need to be carried out. Altogether, it is a serious process that is normally done well.”

Some priests actually aspire to become bishops, he noted, saying that there can also be “movements or pressure to suggest or insist a certain priest be elevated.”

“For this reason, it is important to evaluate not only the human and emotional maturity, but also the spiritual maturity of the candidates for bishop,” he said.

Cardinal Ouellet also noted that he has had some candidates turn down their appointments. 

“There have been quite a few more than I expected,” he said. One of the main reasons for this trend is that “in recent years, the role of the bishop, and of authorities in general, both religious and political, is not at all easy.”

“Likewise because of the scandals, the media campaigns and the accusations of sexual abuse by priests and religious. It is understandable that not everyone wants to confront these situations.”

Ultimately, all bishops must realize that their mission is to serve Christ and the Church and not themselves, he stressed. 

“Bishops should know who they are working for, that is, for the Lord and for the Church,” Cardinal Ouellet said. “Not for themselves. When this happens, it becomes apparent in the way in which their personality is expressed. The ladder-climber’s self-interest prevails or tends to prevail.”

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Sunday Mass is Thanksgiving meal with Christ, says Cardinal O’Malley

Boston, Mass., Nov 24, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Weekly Mass attendance for Catholics should be a “commitment of love” like the celebration of Thanksgiving dinner, said Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston.

“The Thanksgiving meal of our Catholic family occurs every Sunday,” said Cardinal O’Malley in a Nov. 20 pastoral letter on the importance of Sunday Mass.

He observed that Americans are willing to endure traffic jams and crowded airports in order to share Thanksgiving dinner with the people they love and because their presence matters.“Our presence is a sign to each other of the gift and the importance of family in our lives,” he said. 

Jesus eagerly desires to celebrate a meal of Thanksgiving with us each Sunday, said the cardinal, explaining that the word “Eucharist” comes from the Greek word for “thanksgiving.”

Cardinal O’Malley also addressed the large number of Catholics who do not attend Mass each Sunday and told them they are missed. Recalling the witness of martyrs who gave their lives for the sake of the Mass, he urged people not to take the Mass for granted or to allow it to become a mere routine. 

He also spoke about the perception that attending Mass on Sunday is only an obligation. Instead, Cardinal O’Malley described going to Sunday Mass as a response to God’s self-giving love.

Other benefits of Mass attendance are that it strengthens our families and offers an important witness to those around us, he said.

Cardinal O’Malley reached out to Catholics who have fallen away from the Mass, telling them that they are loved and missed by the Catholic community.

He asked forgiveness of those who had been hurt by a member of the Church, and called on them to attend Mass even if they are unable to receive the Eucharist due to “an irregularity or moral struggle.”

Simply attending Mass can provide actual grace to overcome such struggles and find a path to reconciliation, he said.

The cardinal also addressed Boston Catholics, urging them to bring people into the Church, both those who have never encountered the Catholic Church and those who have fallen away.

He emphasized the importance of one-on-one evangelization and personal invitations to come to Mass.

As Catholics, we have a duty to “invite the world to our family gathering,” said Cardinal O’Malley.

He encouraged the faithful to participate every Sunday in “the supreme prayer of the Church, the Eucharist, our Thanksgiving celebration.”

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American Catholics celebrate Thanksgiving in Rome

Rome, Italy, Nov 24, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Over 500 students, staff and guests gathered at the Pontifical North American College in Rome today to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

“For an American in Rome this is the place to be on Thanksgiving,” said seminarian John Connaughton of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn. to CNA.

“And to be here with my brother seminarians, well, there’s actually no place I’d rather be on Thanksgiving – besides with my family.”

Over 300 students and staff were joined by 30 bishops from New York who are in Rome for their “ad limina” visit to the Vatican.

“Well, we can celebrate Thanksgiving any place,” said Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn, when asked how it feels to mark the American holiday in Italy.   

“It’s a national day when we remember all the blessing we’ve received as a people – the origins, the pilgrims, the Indians – and go back to that love-fest at our beginnings as I think it formed the idea of our nation, that we should be a people at peace with everyone.”

Today’s festivities began with the celebration of Mass in the college chapel where the main celebrant was Cardinal Francis George of Chicago. The homily meanwhile was delivered by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, a former student and rector of the North American College. 

“A blessed Thanksgiving to all of you,” he wished to all present before reminding them of St. Augustine of Hippo’s contention that “gratitude is the first step to holiness,” as from gratitude, said St. Augustine, comes humility.

Thus we recognize that without Christ, “nothing is possible but with Him nothing is impossible,” said Archbishop Dolan, adding that “His grace and mercy are lavished upon us through absolutely no merits of our own,” so that we should “gratefully and humbly accept his gifts,” in the knowledge that “even the ability to do that is itself His gift.”

Speaking to CNA, Archbishop Dolan recalled his student years at the college between 1972 and 1976 and how he had never celebrated Thanksgiving “with more fervor and more gusto than I did when I was here in Rome.”

He said that marking Thanksgiving abroad always reminds him of “how uniquely American it is,” and that “giving thanks and praise to God for his abundant blessings is such a part of the American psyche.” 

“I was homesick, I sure missed my family,” he said of his student days, “but to be here, I felt at home, I was so grateful to be an American and we just banged out ‘America the Beautiful’ and ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’ It was a great feast day.” 

Those musical traditions were continued today by the class of 2011 as they gathered after Mass for a grand banquet with the traditional turkey and cranberry sauce on the menu. The seating plan was arranged on a state by state basis, including tables for the Australian and Canadian students studying at the North American College.

“Well it is tough to be away from home on Thanksgiving,” said Deacon Gino Pattugalan of the Diocese of Brooklyn, “it’s such a part of home – but it feels like home is being brought to the college today.”

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