Vatican City, Apr 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
At a recent gathering discussing preparations for World Youth Day in Krakow, a coordinator for the event emphasized how each year many youths receive the courage to answer their vocational call.
“Year after year, the first thing we’ve seen is vocations. There are a lot of people who feel the call to serve the Church at this gathering,” Paul Jarzembowski expressed during an April 10 interview with CNA.
“Perhaps it’s the call of the Holy Father, perhaps it’s that community of seeing the larger Church but it definitely gives people strength to move into a life of service either as a priest or religious or a lay minister, or simply as just an active, engaged Catholic in the world.”
Paul Jarzembowski, coordinator of youth and young adult ministry for the United Stated Conference of Catholic Bishops, was invited by the Pontifical Council for the Laity to come to Rome and participate in the April 10 – 13 meeting discussing the upcoming World Youth Day in Krakow in 2016.
Composed of those in charge of the pastoral care of youth from around the world, the gathering marked the first international meeting to the Krakow encounter, and drew 250 delegates from the Episcopal conferences of around 90 countries and 45 Catholic communities, associations and youth movements, as well as all the local organizational committees for Rio de Janeiro 2013 and Krakow 2016.
Going on, Jarzembowski expressed that among other fruits of World Youth Day in the U.S. is an “increased ministry to young people.”
“I hope that,” he continued, “especially with the pontificate of Pope Francis, an increased attention to the unchurched, to the inactive, to the disenfranchised from our faith” is given, and that the experience also provides “the active Catholics the skills to be new evangelists, and gives the young people that are more distant from the Church a reason for hope.”
Jarzembowski, who spoke during the conference on the impact of World Youth Day in the U.S., highlighted in his talk three key areas of impact which are already bearing fruit in the lives of the youth.
These are the areas of evangelization, social media and “Papal ‘Fever,’” he noted, lauding the impact the international gathering has had on the collage-aged youth, as well as how the event has seen an increased attendance from Hispanic youth, which has enabled dioceses to broaden their outreach to their Hispanic populations.
Social media, the youth coordinator explained, allowed many who were unable to go WYD in Rio the opportunity to participate from home, observing that technology “allows live dialogue between those groups, making WYD an even more universal or ‘catholic’ in its approach and ministry to young people.”
The Pope’s famous words to the youth in Rio to “Go make a mess, go make some noise” and his call to “be revolutionaries and swim against the tide” and to “not water down the faith” have sparked interest all across the world, Jarzembowski stated, as well as his visit to the favela, poor town, during the visit.
Following the Rio gathering many have followed the Bishop of Rome more closely, the youth coordinator highlighted, pointing out how since then Pope Francis has been on the cover of both Time magazine as their “Person of the Year,” as well as Rolling Stone.
Many, he added, are now paying more attention to the faith because in Pope Francis’ actions they “feel a sense of love, compassion, and forgiveness exuding from the Church, led by the Holy Father.”
Expressing his expectations for the international event in Krakow, Jarzembowski expressed that “We hope to bring about 30 thousand young people from the United States,” and “more are welcome.”
“We also hope that when the pilgrims do come to Krakow that they have an opportunity to meet one anther from across the country, across the English speaking world, and of course we want them to meet people from all over the world.”
Emphasizing the importance of being well-prepared for the event, Jarzembowski stated that “work is already starting to ramp up,” and that “Part of the work that we’re doing is to help the pilgrims not only learn how to prepare for this event,” but also how “they follow up from it.”
“So, we have to help our pilgrims not only prepare for the journey but to come off the journey in a way that points that toward something.”
Announced by the Holy See in November, the 2016 WYD encounter, slated to occur July 25 – Aug. 1, will center it’s theme on the Beatitude “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”
Leading up to gathering in Poland, the 2014 WYD will focus on the theme “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” which will be followed in 2015 by the theme “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
Vatican City, Apr 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A missionary order founded in the middle Ages in France is sending their burgeoning number of vocations from Asia and especially South Korea to evangelize countries throughout the world.
“Our congregation has about 4,200 sisters, and we are serving 37 countries and we will expand 3 countries more this year” Mother Maria Goretti Lee, Superior of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres, told CNA on March 18.
“We send missionaries out to all of Asia, Nepal, USA, France, Peru, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia. Most vocations come from Vietnam, then Korea, the Philippines, and Thailand. The sisters from Korea number about 1,000.”
The Mother Superior describes their charism as simple Christian “Charity.”
“It is all summed up in 'Simplicity' inspired by St. Paul’s who became 'all things to all' (1 Cor. 9, 22) in connection to 'Charity' rooted in the Gospel.”
“Our first mission consisted in working to improve the human and spiritual level of the villagers by educating the girls and visiting the poor and the sick.”
“We want to help the people around us, children, men and women to improve their human and spiritual development. We achieve that by taking care of the sick and of education. We are not limited by any kind of boundaries. As all to all, we do everything that society and the Church needs,” she added.
The sisters in Korea began their work caring for orphans as their first mission. “They realized that the children did not know much of Catholic tradition – Catholicism in Korea was very young – so they started planting the seed of the faith in the children’s minds, by teaching chants and catechism.”
“Today we also have a lot of social work centers, like centers for handicapped, migrants and social welfare centers – to help the poor to develop, as well as to let them live fully their human dignity.”
The order of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres was founded in Chartres in 1696 by Father Louis Chauvet and expanded quickly, first in France then worldwide.
“The first missionaries arrived in Korea in 1888. Then we grew fast, so we had the division of two provinces in 1967, Seoul and Daegu, either overseeing about 500 sisters,” the Mother Superior explained.
Only in recent years has the order seen a slight decline in numbers, which Mother Goretti attributes to the general lack of formation for young people in society today.
“Young girls enter (the order) between 25 and 30 years of age. Unfortunately, they are sometimes not mature or formed enough. The education which they received from their family is lacking as well. Today some young parents are not well-informed enough how to raise their children. With all the media and entertainment youth are easily distracted,” she said.
Their order's solution was to introduce one more year of formation for “aspirants” hoping to join. Now “perpetual vows are usually taken after nine years of formation.”
Another safeguard against the modern-day lack of maturity, says Mother Goretti, is the positive cultural heritage of “Confucianism, which helps in developing social conduct and respect for elders.”
Named for the 5th century B.C. Chinese philosopher Confucius, the philosophical system focuses on the development of human virtues and an ethical life.
“But Confucianism is not a religion,” noted Mother Goretti. “It does focus on attitude and social education, but it does not offer a religious meaning. I think that people hunger for religion.”
She went on to note that the Catholic population in Korea is growing, due in no small part to the exemplary witness of Christians, past and present.
“We have many martyrs in history, and iconic people like Cardinal Stephen Kim, who was very famous and exemplary passed away some years ago. Also the priests and the sisters do good work, so the people come to the Church for help and advice.”
“In the last 30 years, especially after the visit of John Paul II to Korea, the number expanded by a lot. Also after his second visit for the Eucharistic Congress, the numbers grew again.”
Mother Goretti and her sisters now “wait anxiously” for Pope Francis’ visit to Korea, scheduled for August 14-18. Pope Francis is expected with great anticipation especially because of his style of leading by example.
“In our culture people can recognize holiness and an exemplary life, and when they encounter a person like this, they want to follow him,” she said.
While in Korea, the Pope will beatify 124 Korean martyrs, individuals whom Mother Goretti admires for their simple faith and perseverance.
“They did not know much about God, some of them did not even read the Bible. But after having encountered Jesus Christ, they kept the faith, and endured persecutions.”
She hopes that the example of these martyrs and the work of the sisters will help the young people of Korea to grow in their faith.
“Today the young people like everything to be very fast. But the Church asks for endurance. Young people sometime just want to participate in the events – but do not have a long-lasting faith,” lamented the Mother Superior.
“We help the young people to endure, we teach them the faith, pray the rosary, and have Bible studies.”
Philadelphia, Pa., Apr 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Ahead of the Jewish observance of Passover, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has written to Philadelphia’s Jewish community to extend “the prayerful best wishes” of the Catholics of his archdiocese.
“We Catholics, who owe so much to the Jewish roots of our faith, join you in revering this great feast,” Archbishop Chaput said in an April 14 message.
The archbishop called Passover “the great feast that marks the liberation of the Chosen People from slavery.”
He said that the Passover celebrations “do not simply recall the past.” Rather, the observance’s rituals are “living reminders that in all times and places, God calls his people to a deeper personal commitment to promote justice in a troubled world.”
“Our times are challenging, and it can be easy to fear that evil may triumph,” he said.
But the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, he said, “reminds us once again that under heavenly guidance, genuine freedom can never be extinguished.”
The eight-day Passover observance begins at sundown April 14. Its observances include Seder meals during which participants retell the story of the Exodus.
Vatican City, Apr 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis voiced his spiritual closeness to all those affected by the fire in Valparaíso, Chile, that so far has left 12 dead and has destroyed some 2,000 homes.
A telegram sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin to Bishop Gonzalo Duarte García de Cortázar of Valparaíso explained that the Pope is “offering prayers for the deceased in this grave disaster, and at the same time share the anguish of those who lost their homes and property.”
Through the telegram, the Holy Father also supported “with his prayers the efforts of the rescue team” and prayed “for the authorities and all of the city that their mind does not falter in the face of adversity, so that with the spirit of solidarity and fraternal charity bring to all the affected the needed help.”
In addition, he transmitted to the families of the deceased his deepest condolences and expressed his “paternal solicitude to the wounded and injured.”
Pope Francis concluded his letter by imparting a special apostolic blessing, “as a sign of affection to all Chileans.”
Beginning in a forested area just above hillside housing outside of the city, the blaze has already killed 12 people, and has left 10,000 evacuated due to the fact that the fire has destroyed some 2,000 homes.
Chilean president Michelle Bachelet said Sunday that the fire is the worst in the history of the country.
United Nations expert Rodrigo Reveco told the press that “it’s impossible to put out the fire in less than 20 days, because the same internal combustion of the trees makes it very slow” to suffocate the fire.
Until now, the government has had to mobilize 11 helicopters, six planes and 2,000 military personnel and police to put out the fire and assist the general public.
New York City, N.Y., Apr 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Maryland-born priest Father John Connor, L.C., has been named the head of the Legion of Christ’s territory of North America.
“I’m humbled by this assignment and ask for the prayers of everyone in the North American Territory,” Fr. Connor said April 14.
Fr. Eduardo Robles Gill, the Legion of Christ’s general director, announced the appointment April 12. Fr. Connor will replace the territory’s outgoing director Fr. Luis Garza as of May 1.
Fr. Connor said he especially wanted to thank Fr. Garza “for his leadership and example of faith and perseverance over the past several years.”
Fr. Connor was born on Feb. 15, 1968, in Severna Park, Md, the Legion of Christ website says. He entered the Legion of Christ’s novitiate in September 1991 in Roetgen, Germany. He was ordained a priest in January 2001 in Rome. He has a degree in business administration from Maryland’s Loyola University.
He served as dean at the Everest Academy in Madrid, Spain from 1994 to 1997. In addition, he worked in the Legion of Christ’s development office and coordinated the Legion’s apostolate of Regnum Christi in New York. He helped to found and direct the Lumen Institute, a New York-based leadership formation program.
He served as territorial director of the Legion’s Atlanta territory from 2010-2011, until the territory merged with the territory of New York. He then served as an assistant for the Legion’s territorial director for in the territory of North America.
Fr. Connor will continue in his current role as head of the North America territory’s Institutional Advancement Office.
Denver, Colo., Apr 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A Colorado Senate committee has advanced legislation that could bar any new pro-life laws in the state, prompting criticism that the bill is extreme and would prevent reasonable health and safety-based regulations.
Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, said the bill would “set back the pro-life cause in Colorado greatly.”
“Not only would it undo good prolife laws that we already have enacted, but it would hinder the ability for any good measured policies in the pro-life arena to even be enacted,” she told CNA April 10.
The bill’s “extraordinarily broad” definition of reproductive health care would create a “fundamental right” to anything defined as such, including abortion.
The Catholic conference said the bill could affect many laws including parental notification or involvement laws, conscience protection laws, and requirements that only licensed physicians perform abortions. The bill could affect laws concerning maternal health, as well as government programs and facilities that pay for or promote childbirth without subsidizing abortion.
It could also impact school health clinics and abstinence education policies.
The bill, S.B. 175, says each individual has “a fundamental right of privacy with respect to reproductive health care decisions” and is “entitled to make reproductive health care decisions free from discrimination, coercion, or violence” and without “interference from the state.”
The bill would bar state agencies and local government from having a policy that “denies or interferes with an individual’s reproductive health care decisions.”
“Given the current political climate in Colorado, I would say there is a very good chance this bill would pass in its current form,” Kraska warned. She urged Coloradans to contact their legislators and “make their voice heard” in opposition to “such a broad expansion of Colorado’s pro-choice laws.”
The Democrat-controlled Colorado Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed the bill by a 4-3 vote at the end of an April 10 hearing, splitting along party lines.
Committee member Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, a bill sponsor, explained her support for the bill, saying, “The only thing I do not tolerate is intolerance and it is obvious to me that any time we are imposing our views on another person’s reproductive health rights, we are not respecting their view.”
The pro-abortion group NARAL Pro-choice Colorado said in an action alert that if the bill passes, it will be the first law of its kind in the country.
Committee member Sen. Kevin Lundberg asked the bill proponents how the bill defines “individual.”
“Do we mean every human being?” he asked, saying if the meaning of “individual” is meant to exclude the unborn, then “their fundamental right to life is being jeopardized.” He said the bill “presumes that the unborn human being has no rights.”
The bill’s proponents did not address how the bill affects the unborn.
The bill’s other sponsors are State Sens. Andy Kerr and State Reps. Dianne Primavera and Mike McLachlan, all Democrats.
Jessica Haverkate, vice president of Colorado Family Action, told CNA that the bill is “a radical attempt to sweep aside existing laws and to prevent the state from enacting true protective measures for women in the future.”
“This legislation poses an undeniable and irreparable danger to common-sense laws supported by a majority of Americans,” she said April 10.
Natalie Decker, an attorney with the religious freedom group Alliance Defending Freedom, told those present at the hearing that her organization is “very concerned” about the impact of the bill. She characterized the legislation as “deceptive” saying it should be called the “abortion on demand act.”
She said the bill “failed to provide basic definitions” and uses an “extremely broad” conception of reproductive health care.
“My first grader has the right to demand access to reproductive health care decisions and to that information,” she said. She warned that the bill would bar “commonsense laws and policies that protect the health and well-being of women and children.”
Decker said the legislation could bar health and safety regulations on abortion clinics and partial birth abortion bans. She said that the law directly conflicts with Colorado’s constitutional ban on public funding for abortions.
Attorney Nicole Martin warned that the law could endanger conscience protections for state employees and employees of state pharmacies. The legal ambiguities of the bill would only be clarified through court action. She said that local governments and agencies, including school boards, would change their policies for fear of lawsuits if the bill is passed.
Kraska suggested to the hearing that the bill is based on a wrong idea of freedom.
“Freedom is more than an unlimited supply of choices. True freedom is the ability to know, and the courage to do, what is right, and what is just,” she said. “This legislation is neither right nor just for the people of Colorado.”
Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila has asked the people of Colorado to pray and contact their lawmakers about the bill. He invited the faithful to join him to pray in front of the State Capitol at 3 p.m. April 15.