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Archive of November 24, 2012

Catholic students host 'HopeKids Day' for terminally-ill

Scottsdale, Ariz., Nov 24, 2012 (CNA) - Kids can still hope in the future, even if a life-threatening illness makes that future uncertain at best. Just ask Joel.

The 2-year-old from Holland was in an Arizona hospital Nov. 8 for treatment. He faces stage 4 neuroblastoma and the treatment success rate is not as strong back home.

Two days later, Joel still had a tube in his nose. That didn’t stop him from smiling big during a pony ride at the third annual “HopeKids Day,” a carnival-like event hosted by Notre Dame Preparatory students for all families registered with HopeKids Arizona.

More than 700 people, including student government volunteers and Notre Dame’s principal, swarmed campus for the afternoon festival Nov. 10. The Saints’ school became a playground filled with bouncy houses, games, crafts, rock climbing plus a coloring station and train rides.

Kids could stroll down the Fashion Club’s runway and interact with costumed characters.

“This year Cinderella gave her crown to all three of my lil’ Princesses. This is a day the girls will talk about for months,” Lorena Cross wrote on HopeKids Arizona’s Facebook page.

Notre Dame students help coordinate the annual event to allow children with life-threatening illnesses and their families restore fun, excitement and hope in their lives. HopeKids Arizona currently serves 880 families.

Stephanie Surratt, whose 11-year-old was diagnosed with a recessive developmental brain disorder by age 1, praised Notre Dame students on Facebook. She described them as polite, helpful and “amazing with the kids.”

Notre Dame’s Saints equally enjoyed the bonding experience.

“I’ve never seen so much hope in my life. The joy on the kids’ faces was moving. It was truly a blessing to have made such an impact in the life of these kids. Their smiles when I gave the kids cotton candy were electric,” said Jhett Steimel, a junior at Notre Dame.

Another said the reaction he got while in his Batman costume was worth far more than the service hours he earned at the event. Students also learned to be thankful for the smaller things in life.

“When you are around children who are sick and who have special needs, it teaches us all the lesson to be thankful for the gift of today and all that we are blessed with, including our health,” said Bridget Asheim, executive director for HopeKids in Arizona.

“For our families, this day signifies hope and a day filled with many life-long memories. Our families may not know what tomorrow may bring in regards to treatment for their child, but for that one day, they can have fun, laugh, smile and hope.”

It’s family time that might be equally as vital as their treatment. A spokesperson at Notre Dame said the family photo taken during HopeKids Day last year was the final one they had together. That family’s daughter passed away shortly thereafter.

Posted with permission from The Catholic Sun, official newspaper of the Diocese of Phoenix, Ariz.

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Tulsa diocese celebrates Year of Faith with rich variety

Tulsa, Okla., Nov 24, 2012 (CNA) - The Diocese of Tulsa has big plans for the Year of Faith and is crowning its efforts with a “bucket list.”

“The idea of the bucket list is to encompass a lot of different aspects of the faith, as well as advertising some of the things our diocese has,” Erik Grayless, chairman of the diocesan committee on the Year of Faith, told CNA in an Oct. 2012 interview.

It is “a list of spiritual activities you will want to complete before the Year ends” on Nov. 24, 2013, according to a letter of Bishop Edward J. Slattery to the diocese.

Grayless, a layman and Tulsa's assistant district attorney, said that the purpose of the Year, called for by Pope Benedict, is two-fold: both a “re-affirmation and rediscovery of the faith for those who are Catholic” and that it is “intimately linked to the new evangelization.”

The bucket list activities are meant to appeal to both those active in their faith and for the person who is “just coming back and rediscovering their faith.” They can be both challenging, and simple.

Confession is one of the simpler things Catholics in eastern Oklahoma are being encouraged to do.

“Going to confession is one of those things that some Catholics unfortunately don't take advantage of. So you go to confession once, and you can check off on a list and see that you actually did this.”

Since confession is being promoted in Tulsa as part of the Year, Bishop Slattery has encouraged his priests to be ever more generous in their availability for hearing confessions.

While not yet decided, the diocese is considering having a particular period during Lent during which “there is confession every day at every church,” as a “more concerted push” to open up the sacrament of confession.

More unique opportunities are offered as well.

“Getting people in Tulsa to see Clear Creek Abbey as part of a pilgrimage, or seeing one of the local churches in the smaller towns” is something different that they might not have experienced.

This ties in with the plenary indulgence for the Year of Faith. It was announced Oct. 5 that one way to gain the indulgence is by making a pilgrimage to the cathedral or a location designated by the local bishop. The Tulsa diocese has four shrines, which will likely be among those designated locations in addition to Holy Family Cathedral.

Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey is a Benedictine abbey in Hulbert, Okla. Which celebrates the liturgy in Latin and according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

The bucket list contains 22 different spiritual activities in which to participate. The diocesan website announces that anyone in the diocese who completes at least 15 items and returns it to the diocese will receive “a complimentary gift of appreciation” memorializing their participation in the Year of Faith.

One of the diocese's major plans is to organize viewings of Father Robert Barron's “Catholicism” video series in the parishes. “We're having a diocesan trained individual, starting in January, going to each of the parishes and showing” the series, Grayless pointed out.

“It beautifully explores the faith; Fr. Barron goes around the world to different locations in the Church, showing how the faith is strong and beautiful.”

Planning for the Year of Faith in Tulsa has been a group effort, Grayless emphasized. “The priests have been very passionate about it, and they've been very receptive to things we've suggested.”

Father Kerry Wakulich, chaplain at the University of Tulsa's Newman Center, is among those passionate priests. He told CNA Oct. 10 that his plans for the Year of Faith include giving students the Magnificat “Year of Faith Companion”; pilgrimages to diocesan shrines; catechism classes; and in May, a 15-day pilgrimage to Poland “in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II.”

Grayless noted that Bishop Slattery intends for the fruits of the Year of Faith to extend beyond the year itself. He said that while the speakers, conferences, and viewings of the “Catholicism” videos are the “event,” but “the bishop has encouraged that this not be a one-time event, but that this carry on, because we are supposed to be preaching the Gospel always.”

There will be an outreach at the conclusion of the Year, in hopes that the Church in Tulsa will see a “sustainable bump in attendance.”

In his letter to the diocese, Bishop Slattery challenged “every Catholic in Eastern Oklahoma to reflect seriously on the Pontiff’s call for a renewed conversion to Christ. Together let us do what we must deepen our faith and show a greater confidence in the Gospel message of salvation.”

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Pope Benedict creates six non-European cardinals

Vatican City, Nov 24, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI presided over the creation of six new cardinals Nov. 24, and in a unusual occurrence, none of them were European.

The consistory took place at 11 a.m. on Saturday in St. Peter’s Basilica and involved bishops from the United States, Lebanon, India, Nigeria, Colombia and the Philippines. During the ceremony, the men all received rings from the Pope and made vows to him.

Pope Benedict XVI asked the new cardinals to focus on fidelity and the universality of the Church.

"I want to highlight the fact that the Church is the Church of all peoples, and so she speaks in the various cultures of the different continents," said Pope Benedict.

As part of becoming cardinals, they vowed to "cooperate more directly with Benedict XVI and his canonically elected successors" and "to not make known to anyone matters entrusted to me in confidence, the disclosure of which could bring damage or dishonor to the Holy Church."

"What makes the Church catholic is the fact that Christ in his saving mission embraces all humanity," said Pope Benedict.

He said in his homily that "by following Jesus one enters a new kingdom that conquers fragmentation and dispersal."

"Jesus promises that they (the apostles) will be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and he confers upon them the task of bearing witness to him all over the world, transcending the cultural and religious confines within which they were accustomed to think and live, so as to open themselves to the universal Kingdom of God," said Pope Benedict.

The six men who received the honor were the American Archbishop James Michael Harvey, Lebanese Patriarch Bechara Boutros Raï, Indian Major Archbishop Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Nigerian Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Colombian Archbishop Rubén Salazar Gómez and Filipino Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle.

"It's so exciting to be here and have a Nigerian as one of the cardinals," said Honorus Obasi, who works for the Nigerian embassy to Italy.

"It's a great occasion because the Church is developing in Africa and creating a Nigerian cardinal will help the country," he added.

"Cardinal John Onaiyekan is a very humble” and outspoken man. “We're very proud and happy to have him here," said Obasi.

Popes usually create cardinals every two or three years, but this marks the second consistory in 2012, after Pope Benedict held one on Feb. 18 for the creation of 22 cardinals.

The six new cardinals are all under the age of 80, which means they are eligible to vote on who will be the next Pope, alongside 120 other cardinals.

Today’s consistory was also notable because it is the first one in decades at which no Europeans were made cardinals.

The Lebanese, whose president also attended the event, expressed their joy of having more representation in the Vatican with Patriarch Bechara Boutros Raï becoming their second cardinal.

"I'm so happy because our country is so small, but we can still now be a part of the Vatican with our second cardinal," said Tanya Daccache, visiting from Keserwan, Lebanon.

"This is going to help Christians in the Middle East because it's going to force Muslims to respect us more," she added.

"The Arab Spring has been severely affecting Christians and we want to be able to stay there. We have a big duty to raise our children with the mentality of staying in Lebanon."

"We're such a small country, but we have seven saints," Daccache added.

A Lebanese entrepreneur who lives in France said he feels that the elevation of Patriarch Raï was a gift from God.

"It's a donation from God because he is such a great person, and it's a huge and great pleasure to have our patriarch be a cardinal," said Raymond Elasmar.

"We're hoping we will now be more protected in the Middle East, and we hope God gives him the health and the energy to guide all of us," he said.

Henrietta Devilla, the former Philippine ambassador to the Holy See, is a friend of the newly-created Philippine cardinal.

"It's a sign of grace for the Philippines," she said. "I know him personally, and he's brilliant man and very compassionate."

"You don't have to bow to him or anything. He's like Jesus who didn't come to be served but to serve," Devilla remarked.

"We're very grateful to the Holy Father for doing this because we're the only Christian nation in Asia," she said.

Devilla also noted that Cardinal Tagle is the “only active cardinal because our other two are Emeritus."

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