Bozeman, Mont., Oct 27, 2012 (CNA) - Chrism oil on the altar, blessings over a new baptismal font and a standing-room congregation were part of the rededication of Holy Rosary Parish in Bozeman, Mont. on Sunday, Oct. 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Bishop George Leo Thomas of Helena, celebrated the Mass that included Fathers Leo Proxell, who is the Holy Rosary pastor; Joe Oblinger, a retired priest in Big Sky; Val Zdilla, pastor at Resurrection Parish in Bozeman; and Gregory Burke, who is retired and is a former Holy Rosary pastor.
Renovation of the church began in 2005 when Father Proxell formed a committee to determine the priorities. By 2005, the parish had 1,000 registered families, more than double the 450 when Father Proxell arrived in 2001.
“We had people in the basement watching Mass on TV,” he said in an article published in The Montana Catholic last December.“ This community is an extraordinarily well catechized community because of my predecessor, Father Beaulieu, so they were upset that people were in the basement.”
In preparing for the renovation, two priorities emerged: stay at the downtown site and double the church’s seating capacity. Plans by ThinkOne Architecture expanded the seats from 350 to 650. They are in cruciform design and are on three sides of the main altar.
The rededication Mass featured music by the Holy Rosary choir accompanied by an orchestra section from Montana State University and directed by Timothy Dueppen, MSU professor of brass and jazz.
Bishop Thomas blessed the new altar and poured chrism oil on its four corners. The oil then was rubbed in by the bishop, sealing the altar with the Holy Spirit.
Then a brazier of incense was placed upon the altar, symbolizing prayer ascending to God. Finally, as in baptism, the altar was adorned with a white cloth and the lighting of candles took place as a sign of the faith. The altar’s dedication was complete only when the Eucharist was celebrated upon it.
Bishop Thomas and priests put chrism oil on the four walls of the church. “This must continue to be that special place, of warmth and welcome, where the poor and powerless, the least, the last and the lowly, have a special place in the heart of the parish, and a reserved place at the table of the Lord,” Bishop Thomas said in his homily.
“You and I are the living stones, comissioned, co-missioned, to bring his love into every heart and home, to people great and small, in this favored portion of the Lord’s vineyard.”
Also at the rededication, the new baptismal font was blessed and the Eucharistic Chapel inaugurated.
A week later, on Oct. 14, the Holy Rosary pipe organ was dedicated.
Posted with permission from The Montana Catholic, official newspaper for the Diocese of Helena.
Rome, Italy, Oct 27, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - As Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien took possession of his titular church, St. Sebastian on the Palatine Hill, he called on Catholics to imitate Saint Sebastian's witness to the resurrection of Christ.
“The Sepulchre is empty, and whether in 3rd century Rome or 21st century suffering Christian Palestine, His followers are willing to stake their lives on the fact both of the empty tomb and of the living Christ,” the cardinal proclaimed in his homily for the Oct. 25 Mass.
Cardinal O'Brien was elevated to the cardinalate on Feb. 18, and appointed cardinal-deacon of St. Sebastian on the Palatine Hill. He serves as the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, which is charged with supporting the Church in the Holy Land.
“I've been asked by the Holy Father to support the Christian works in the Holy Land,” the cardinal explained Oct. 25 to CNA.
“That will be one of my roles, to encourage all around the world, men and women to join the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and give their attention to the needs of the land where Christ walked.”
He noted the many schools and charitable works for the poor that the Church in the Holy Land is responsible for, despite the challenges it faces.
“Employment is difficult, travel is difficult, there are many restrictions placed on Christians in daily life and in worship,” he said.
Cardinal O'Brien said that in addition to the traditional lands of Palestine, Israel, and Jordan, for which the Order of the Holy Sepulchre is responsible, the Vatican has recently asked them to take responsibility for Egypt and Lebanon as well.
The cardinal speculated that this request was because “the changes since the Arab Spring have brought great pressures on the Churches in those lands, and they need all the support and encouragement they can get.”
“For many Christians the Arab Spring is turning into a winter's blizzard, where there are recriminations, violence, extremism, and so much of it is directed at the minority Christians.”
“We as the Catholic Church and our fellow Christians have to be sure that the world knows and that the powers that be there know that our Christian community has strong support and encouragement and we will do all we can to deliver what they need for a fuller practice of their faith.”
Cardinal O'Brien said “the main goal of membership in the Order is personal sanctification – holiness. Only if one takes that seriously will one be effective and productive in supporting the charitable works in the Holy Land.”
“It is through prayer, pilgrimages, and financial contributions that we can keep alive the Christian spirit and Christian charity in the Holy Land as it has been going on for 2 millenia.”
Cardinals, who are almost all bishops, are divided into three groups: cardinal-bishops, -priests, and -deacons. Each cardinal is assigned a titular church in Rome, and St. Sebastian on the Palatine Hill was the titular church of the previous Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Cardinal John P. Foley.
The Mass said by the cardinal was a votive Mass in honor of Our Lady Queen of Palestine. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal was in attendance, as were some 60 Knights and Ladies of the order.
Prior to being named the Order's Grand Master, Cardinal O'Brien served as Archbishop of the U.S. Military Ordinariate and then of the Baltimore archdiocese.
New Orleans, La., Oct 27, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - A federal appeals court has declined a rehearing for Planned Parenthood, which was trying to block Texas' effort to defund its clinics in the state.
“Today's ruling affirms yet again that in Texas the Women's Health Program has no obligation to fund Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform or promote abortion,” Texas governor Rick Perry said in a statement Oct. 25.
“In Texas we choose life, and we will immediately begin defunding all abortion affiliates to honor and uphold that choice.”
In March, Texas indicated it would forgo federal funding for its Women's Health Program and established a rule that barred clinics which perform elective abortions, or affiliates of those that do, from participating in the program.
Women's Health Program provides health care for uninsured, low-income women throughout the state.
Planned Parenthood sued Texas, claiming that the state's no-abortion provision violated their clinics' First Amendment rights to free speech and association.
On Aug. 21 a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals removed an April 30 injunction that had prevented Texas from defunding Planned Parenthood until a trial could be held about the issue.
That panel decided that “the authority of Texas to disfavor abortion within its own subsidized program is not violative of the First Amendment right.”
“Today a unanimous appeals court rightfully recognized that the taxpayer-funded Women's Health Program is not required to subsidize organizations that advocate for elective abortion,” Texas attorney general Greg Abbot said Aug. 21.
“We are encouraged by today's decision and will continue to defend the Women's Health Program in court.”
Planned Parenthood requested a rehearing before the full appellate court, but was denied Oct. 25.
Judge Grady Jolly indicated that none of the circuit judges requested that the court be asked about the rehearing petition.
In reaction to the appellate court's decision, Kenneth Lembrecht, president of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said in a statement that “This case has never been about Planned Parenthood -- it’s about the Texas women who turn to us every day.”
“Politics should never come between a woman and her health care, but in this decision, which conflicts with Supreme Court precedent, it appears it has.”
Texas' rule against abortion affiliates participating in Women's Health Program is due to come into effect Nov. 1.
New York City, N.Y., Oct 27, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Hollywood actor Christian Bale presented a human rights award to Chinese pro-life advocate Chen Guangcheng for fighting forced abortions in China, praising him as a courageous and inspirational figure.
By exposing “a program of forced abortion and sterilization in Shandong,” Chen exemplified the “values that we teach our children every day of helping our fellow man,” Bale said.
Chen was the 2012 Human Rights Award Honoree at an Oct. 25 gala in New York City hosted by Human Rights First, an organization that challenges the United States to live up to its ideals.
Bale met the blind human rights activist for the first time at the gala. The Batman star had previously attempted to visit Chen during his time in house arrest but was roughed up and turned away by plainclothes guards.
Blinded by a serious illness when he was young, Chen is a self-taught human rights lawyer who spoke out against China’s one-child policy and the coerced abortions and sterilizations that are often used to enforce it. His work attracted the anger of Chinese authorities.
Chen spent more than four years in prison and was subsequently placed under house arrest in September 2010. He and his family were held without formal charges, and he said that they were violently assaulted and refused medical treatment.
In late April, he made international headlines by escaping from house arrest and reaching the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
He left the embassy for a hospital in Beijing on May 2, after being promised by Chinese authorities that he and his family would be secure. Shortly afterwards, however, he voiced fears for his safety and asked to come to the U.S. with his family for a period of peaceful rest.
Chen was offered a fellowship to study law and learn English at New York University’s law school and was ultimately allowed to travel to the United States with his family, arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport on May 19.
In presenting the award, Bale emphasized the blind activist’s work on behalf of women and their unborn children who are subject to the country’s brutal one-child policy.
“A program of forced abortion means that women are being dragged from their homes against their will,” Bale said. “They are being forced to have abortions, sometimes late-term – imagine that – with some women reportedly dying in the process.”
Referring to these forced abortions as “true horror,” the actor stated that in this “insane world,” Chen stood up for the women of China, living out “simple, brave and universally-admired values.”
“For this, this man was imprisoned and beaten for over four years,” he said.
Speaking through a translator, Chen said that he was honored to receive the award.
“Just as the name Human Rights First implies, I believe if everyone throughout the world put human rights in first place, we would be living in a very different world,” he said.
“This is not just an award for me, but I feel I am representing all people who live in non-democratic countries,” he added.
“Human Rights First is proud to honor Chen, whose bravery for risking a dangerous escape from abusive local Chinese authorities is inspiring,” said the organization’s president and CEO, Elisa Massimino. “His daring defiance of a brutal regime gives courage to those in China and beyond who struggle for human rights.”
Reggie Littlejohn, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, a group that works to oppose forced abortions in China, praised both men for their courage. Littlejohn helped lead efforts to bring Chen to safety last spring.
"Chen Guangcheng is a towering champion of human rights, who with incomparable courage, stood alone against the Chinese totalitarian regime,” she said. “The women of China and the world will long remember his bravery on their behalf."
Bale has also “become a human rights champion in his own right,” Littlejohn added, observing that the actor risked his own safety in seeking to visit Chen last December, attracting visibility that “greatly helped the international effort to free Chen.”
“And Bale is brave to condemn the practice of forced abortion in China,” she said.