Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The 140th Missionary Expedition for the Salesians has begun!

On Sunday, September 27 the Rector Major blessed the 140th group of Salesian Missionaries!

The following are the names of those missionaries being sent out as part of the 140th Salesian Missionary Expedition! May God bless each of these men and women with a rich harvest for the Kingdom of God!

Name (Province & Country of Origin), MISSION DESTINATION

Cleric: Clerical brother; Br.: Coadjutor brother


1. Fr. Xavier De Verchère (France) Republic of CHAD

2. Fr. Juan Carlos De Pablo J. (Spain) Patagonia, ARGENTINA

3. Cleric Antonio Werun (Indonesia) Mongolia

4. Cleric Vincent Nguyễn Quốc Bảo (Vietnam) PARAGUAY

5. Cleric Joseph Đỗ Văn Dũng (Vietnam) VENEZUELA

6. Br. John Baptist Đoàn Văn Tân (Vietnam) UGANDA

7. Br. Dominic Vũ Văn Khanh (Vietnam) PARAGUAY

8. Cleric Paul Trần Bảo Thắng (Vietnam) PERÙ

9. Cleric Joseph Mart. Nguyễn Mạnh Hiền (Vietnam) ZAMBIA

10. Cleric James Đặng Đình Minh Thắng (Vietnam) VENEZUELA

11. Fr. Cyril John Edamana (India) ENGLAND

12. Fr. Stanislav Somora (Slovacchia) KENYA

13. Cleric Jayaraj Mari Arulappan (Chenai, India) ENGLAND

14. Cleric Paules Guria (Guwahati, India) UGANDA

15. Fr. Martin Santiago Martìnez (Madrid, Spain) CUBA

16. Br. Antonio Matellan Carro (León, Spain) GUINEA

17. Fr. Francisco Vazquez (Sevilla, Spain) BENIN

18. Fr. John Adaikalaraja (Tiruchy, India) The NETHERLANDS

19. Fr. David Perego (Italy) LITHUANIA

20. Cleric Druhznier Lopez Mulet (Cuba) Patagonia, ARGENTINA

21. Fr. Pawel Kociolek (Poland) BANGLADESH

22. Cleric Stephen Musya Maswili (Kenia) PAPUA NEW GUINEA

23. Cleric Antony Praveen (Chennai, India) AUSTRIA

24. Cleric Peter Kariuki (Kenia) SUDAN

25. Cleric Moise Maneno Paluku (Congo) PAPUA NEW GUINEA

26. Fr. Sebastian Idczak Blazej (Poland) Austria

27. Fr. Vladimir Fekete (Slovakia) AZERBAIJAN

28. Fr. Sergio Escobedo Marcos (México) ITALY

29. Fr. Timothy Choi (Korea) PAPUA NEW GUINEA

30. Fr. Anton Odrobinak (Slovakia) ECUADOR

31. Cleric Enio Esteves Ramalho (East Timor) ECUADOR

32. Cleric Raja De Rossi (India) HUNGARY

33. Cleric Alejandro Josè León Mendoza (Venezuela) MIDDLE EAST


1. Sr. Claudia AGUILA MARMOLEJO (México)

2. Sr. Auxiliadora BARROS (Brasil)

3. Sr. Gema EXTREMO ARANDA (Spain)

4. Sr. Anna NGUYEN THI MINH TAN (Vietnam)

5. Sr. Teresa VU PHUONG THUY TRINH (Vietnam)

6. Sr. Apoline UWIMANTEGETSE (Mozambique)

7. Sr. Marta HOANG THI THUY (Vietnam)

Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (HHSC)

1. Sr. Jeymi Andrea Cedeño (Colombia) GUINEA EQUATORIAL


1. Mr. Stefano Merante (Italy) BURUNDI

2. Ms. Elisa Barracu (Italy) ETIOPIA

3. Ms. Gloria Paolucci (Italy) LEBANON

4. Ms. Filomena Scrocca (Italy) ALBANIA

5. Ms. Marta Terzarede (Italy) BOLIVIA

6. Mr. Simone Riccio (Italy) BURUNDI

7. Ms. Ilaria Perutelli (Italy) BOLIVIA

8. Mr. Lukáš Petrucha (Czech Republic) BULGARIA

9. Ms. Maria Sliacka (Slovakia) KENYA

10. Ms. Lucia Motylova (Slovakia) KENYA

11. Ms. Katka Reclova (Slovakia) serving Rumanian people in Slovakia

12. Ms. Zuzana Lysa (Slovakia) serving Rumanian people in Slovakia

13. Ms. Monika Riescadova (Slovakia) serving Rumanian people in Slovakia

14. Mr. Pablo Cabrera Gómez (Spain) TOGO

15. Ms. Teresa Ruiz de la Parte (Spain) TOGO

16. Mr. Hugo Sancèn (Mexico)

17 & 18. Mr. Tomasz and Mrs. Justyna Buklaho (Poland) PERÙ

The miracle of Saint Thérèse

We Salesians are preparing for the arrival of the remains of St. John Bosco in September/October of 2010. The joy that comes from the visit of the relics of a saint are hard to understand for those without faith. Here is a beautiful story on how the British are welcoming the relics of St. Thérèse the Little Flower. The story comes from the Independent:

We rarely go to church, yet tens of thousands of us have flocked to see the remains of a 19th-century nun as they tour Britain. Why? Paul Vallely looks for answers in Preston.

It is an unprepossessing, Victorian brick-built chapel in a nondescript suburb of Preston in Lancashire. The only indication that there might be something unusual about the place is a plain sign by the door bearing the words Carmelite Monastery. But it was the large crowds that were the giveaway.

In less than four hours, some 4,000 people materialised to file solemnly through the door of the anonymous little building. They were there to place themselves momentarily in the presence of the bones of a young woman who died in obscurity a century ago, but who is now one of the Catholic Church's best-loved saints.

The relics of Thérèse of Lisieux were passing through the town as part of an unprecedented tour of the UK, visiting 28 venues in a single month, in an extraordinary world tour of more than 40 countries. Tens of thousands have turned out to see them since their arrival in Portsmouth two weeks ago.

If there was something exotic about the reliquary – the few bones from her right leg, thigh and foot are held in a silver container inside a casket shaped like a temple – its reception was decidedly British. This was an undemonstrative affair where quiet reverence mixed with an understated polite excitement.

The casket stood on the altar of the little chapel with its plain cream walls and school-hall laquered parquet floor. The long queues of people shuffling slowly forwards were made up predominantly of women with grey or white hair, but there were men in business suits, and several black and Asian faces along with a group of children from the local school.

When they reached the reliquary most stopped and stood reverently for a few silent seconds. Some pressed their hands against the Perspex dome covering the casket. One or two kissed it.

Why had they come? "St Thérèse was a simple person, she didn't do anything spectacular," said Bridget Hilton, who had travelled from Clitheroe up on the Pennines. "She lived in a convent in Normandy and died when she was 24. But she showed that through simple, everyday things you could do God's will."

"When she died she had done so little that the nuns had nothing to put in her obituary," said another pilgrim, Marie Gardner. "But then it was discovered she had written her memoirs." The book was published as The Story of a Soul. It became an international bestseller. "She became a saint for ordinary people."

There is nothing ordinary, however, about her namesake, Sister Thérèse, the 75-year-old Reverend Mother of the convent that hosted Monday's gathering.

A hooped figure in a brown scapular, black veil and cream cloak, she has spent the last 47 years inside the monastery. Until recently she had hardly ventured into the outside world, though relaxed rules mean the nuns can now leave to visit the optician or dentist, or even an infirm close relative.

"She didn't have visions or anything like that," the old nun said, explaining why her namesake is such a draw. "But she made people look at God in a different way. People in her time saw God as a distant figure to be feared, but she saw God as a friend." So much so that she used tu to address God in her writing – although her nuns changed this to the more formal vous in early editions for fear of shocking a general readership.

Some of those in the long queue were hoping for a miracle. "We want to have a baby," said Chantal Henkison, a nurse in her early forties who was there with her husband, John, a joiner.

Others were there because they believed they had already had one. Rosalind Lumby, 32, credited the saint with arresting her mother's breast cancer. "We'd been told she won't live 'til the end of 2008 and that we should bring Christmas forward," she said. "But we prayed to St Thérèse and my mother is still with us, and her tumour has shrunk. We think it is a miracle."

Some Catholics are uneasy with this sort of talk, which they fear smacks of superstition. Cardinal Hume refused to give permission for the tour of St Thérèse's bones when he was the leader of the nation's Catholics.

But even those who do not hold with the healing power of relics would have been struck in Preston yesterday by the gentleness of the atmosphere, the care taken of the old and infirm, and the healing properties of the cups of tea which were offered all round. "St Thérèse encapsulates the gospel message in a very simple way," said Fr Frank Gallagher, a Carmelite friar who runs a retreat house nearby.

Yesterday, Sister Janet Fearns, who has been involved in planning the relics' tour in the North-west said that she hoped the tour's success would continue.

"We have been very surprised by the turnout, particularly since it has been publicised almost exclusively by word of mouth," she said. "I have heard that 27 bus-loads of people are planning to come down from Scotland to see the relics when we stop in Lancaster. The level of devotion is astonishing."

She added: "I think that St Thérèse has had such an impact on people's lives because she suffered so much and yet talked about being a loving person."

"There was a sense of peace in there," said Maria Robinson as she left, after praying for help with her arthritis. "I feel strengthened now."

Tsunami hits South Pacific islands -- Salesians report on situation

Please pray for the victims of this latest Tsunami in the Pacific. The following comes from AustraLasia:

Fr. Petelo Vito Pau, rector of the Salesian community center located near Apia, the capital of Samoa, reports that “all confreres are safe from the earthquake” and the tsunami that struck on September 29, causing widespread damage and loss of life to both Samoa and nearby American Samoa. Formerly known as Western Samoa, the independent nation of Samoa consisting of two main islands, Upolu and Savai’i, and several smaller islands, among them Manono.

Fr. Sefo Mulipola, a Salesian from the tiny island of Manono, reports that his family home was partly destroyed, but that the family are safe. It seems that the two Salesians on Savai’i island also are safe.

An earthquake of 8.3 magnitude, located some 120 miles to the south of the islands, caused several tsunami waves varying from 2 to 4 feet to strike the southern coastal areas of Upolu, the main Samoan island. Two of the Salesian centers are located on coastal strips, both fully susceptible to any rise in water level. We await further information on the effects of the tsunami on physical plant in these two areas, but it would seem that the brunt of the tsunami struck elsewhere.

Both the Salesians and the Salesian Sisters have communities and presences in Samoa, while the sisters have a community also in nearby American Samoa. At the moment we have no report on how they fared. More general media reports indicate that Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, was struck without warning. News reports often confuse the issue by talking of “Samoa” when they could mean either Samoa or American Samoa, but it would seem that loss of life is possibly as high as a hundred, even more, including both island groups.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of islands in the wider region. Two other large island groups, Tonga and Fiji, received tsunami warnings, and the reports are that an even more severe wave struck the northern islands of Tonga, which are very close to Samoa, with loss of life involved. We have Salesians from Tonga, but not in Tonga, and their families do not come from that part of the island group. We also have a Salesian community in Fiji, and the Regional Seminary which our men attend (and teach at) is located on a susceptible strip of coast. On this occasion, although students were evacuated from that area, no significant difficulties were reported. New Zealand also put out a tsunami warning, but later cancelled it. There have been no significant difficulties despite higher than usual water levels on northern coasts.

John Paul 'to be more than a saint'

Pope John Paul the Great, Saint and Doctor of the Church? That sounds good to me! Hear what one Irish Bishop has to say at the Irish Times:

AN IRISH Catholic bishop has predicted that Pope John Paul II, who arrived in Ireland 30 years ago today, will most likely have a higher status than sainthood in the Catholic Church.

The Bishop of Meath, Most Rev Michael Smith, who was centrally involved in organising the papal visit, said he would not be surprised if Pope John Paul II was made a Doctor of the Church.

This, he felt, would be due to the late pope’s teachings on human sexuality but more particularly those on the dignity of the human person.

Currently just 33 of the many thousands of saints in the Catholic Church are designated Doctors of the Church. These are men and women who have, as Bishop Smith said, “been identified as having made an extraordinary contribution to the teaching of the church and to the interpretation of the words of Christ, and to elaboration of the whole understanding of the church.”

Among Doctors of the Church are St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, St Francis de Sales, St John of the Cross, St Anthony of Padua, St Teresa of Ávila, St Catherine of Siena and St Thérèse of Lisieux. As Bishop Smith explained, St Thérèse was elevated because she wrote “so deeply on God as love, a message we want to hear in our own country and didn’t hear enough in the past.”

He also suspected Pope Benedict might, in time, become a Doctor of the Church. “In this generation we are very blessed to have had two popes who have made an enormous contribution to church teaching and church belief.”

Asked about the another papal visit, he said: “I don’t think any pope can come to Ireland unless the North, Northern Ireland, is the focus of that visit.” But at 82 the subject of a visit would be “fairly daunting for him”, he said.

He said it was a surprise when Pope John Paul agreed in June 1979 to visit Ireland. It was then decided he would visit all four provinces and, due to the tight timeframe, that each centre to be visited would do its own organisation. It meant many last-minute changes. The decision to have him visit two centres in Connacht was because the site at Knock was “very contained”, so a special youth Mass was planned for Galway.

Pope John Paul himself remained determined to visit Northern Ireland even after the murder of Lord Mountbatten and 18 British soldiers at Warrenpoint in August of that year. But he was prevailed upon by Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich not to do so as, while there was no threat to his own personal safety, the same could not be guaranteed for the people who would wish to see him.

The bishop did not believe Pope John Paul would be surprised at the Ireland of today. In his talk at Limerick he had spoken of the challenges Ireland faced, he said. In general, and while the visit went well, Bishop Smith said he was happy “to see him [the pope] on the plane at Shannon.”

At the papal cross in Drogheda last Sunday Cardinal Seán Brady noted how Pope John Paul had “made a very special appeal to all who, he said, are called to the noble vocation of politics. He urged them to have courage and to face up to their responsibilities”.

The cardinal continued: “The challenge is ever timely and relevant not just for politicians, for all leaders. The cause of peace, reconciliation and justice will always require the courage to adopt policies that promote the genuine common good.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pope Benedict: Priests’ work is irreplaceable

The following comes from the CNA:

In a video message to an international spiritual retreat for priests at the French shrine of Ars, Pope Benedict XVI said that priests’ work is irreplaceable and that the Church’s recognition for their “unreserved” commitment is “immense.”

The retreat, marking the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, is scheduled for September 27 through October 3. Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna, is the preacher of the retreat, whose theme is “The joy of being a priest, consecrated for the salvation of the world.”

In his video message to the priests, made public on Tuesday, Pope Benedict said that the priest is “called to serve human beings and to give them life in God… He is a man of the divine Word and of all things holy and, today more than ever, he must be a man of joy and hope. To those who cannot conceive that God is pure Love, he will affirm that life is worthy to be lived and that Christ gives it its full meaning because He loves all humankind.”

The Pope then turned to priests who serve a number of parishes, saying they commit themselves “unreservedly” and that the Church’s recognition for them is “immense.”

“Do not lose heart but continue to pray and to make others pray that many young people may accept the call of Christ, Who always wishes to see the number of His apostles increase,” he added.

Pope Benedict asked the audience to consider the extreme diversity of the ministries they perform, such as the large number of Masses they celebrate “each time making Christ truly present at the altar.”

“Think of the numerous absolutions you have given and will give, freeing sinners from their burdens. Thus you may perceive the infinite fruitfulness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Your hands and lips become, for a single instant, the hands and lips of God,” he reflected.

Such thoughts should ensure “harmonious relations” among the clergy to help build up the body of Christ and consolidate them “in love.”

“The priest is the man of the future,” he said.

“What he does in this world is part of the order of things directed towards the final Goal. Mass is the only point of union between the means and the Goal because it enables us to contemplate, under the humble appearance of the bread and the wine, the Body and Blood of Him Whom we adore in eternity.”

“Nothing will ever replace the ministry of priests in the heart of the Church,” Pope Benedict’s message continued. He called priests “the living witnesses of God's power at work in the weakness of human beings, consecrated for the salvation of the world, chosen by Christ Himself to be, thanks to Him, salt of the earth and light of the world.”

LSU Football: Where unreal happens!

Make Mine Freedom (1948)

The Feast of the Archangels

Today is the Feast of the Archangels! To learn more about them click here:

Angels are not like the other saints on the Church's calendar who were all human beings. Angels are celestial beings created on a higher order than man. They are completely spiritual beings; they have intelligence and will; they are personal and immortal creatures. Angels are the servants and messengers of God -- in fact, this is what the word "angel" means. Several different kinds (or ranks) of angels are mentioned in the Bible: angels, archangels, cherubim, seraphim, thrones, choirs, dominions, principalities, and powers.

The feast of Saint Michael, one of the seven archangels of Scripture, originated in the sixth century. It was known, in English, as "Michaelmas", and this name lives on in a wildflower, a white aster with many small star-like flowers, that blooms in late September, known as the Michaelmas daisy.

Recently two other of the archangels named in scripture, Gabriel and Raphael, are also honored on this day.

Michael the archangel, whose name in Hebrew means "Who is like God?", is revered as the leader of the angelic army who will conquer Satan and his armies of demons, and is considered the defender of the Church. Michael is more often represented in art thank any other angelic being. He is often shown wearing armor, in the act of slaying the great Dragon of the Apocalypse [Satan] in Revelation 12:7-9.

The archangel Gabriel, whose name in Hebrew means "Strength of God", announced the birth of John the Baptist to Zachariah, and soon after, announced to Mary that she was to become the mother of Our Lord. His address to her, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee" (the "angelic salutation") is familiar to all who say the Rosary.

The archangel Raphael, whose name means medic or ointment of God, is mentioned by name in the Old Testament book of Tobit, whom the angel aided by healing him of blindness and guiding his son on his travels.

Monday, September 28, 2009

San Galgano Cathedral and Abbey

This is a beautiful video! San Galgano Abbey is one of the most beautiful monuments in Tuscany. The unique mystic and mysterious atmosphere of the place and the many legends which surround the origins and the history of the abbey and the monastery attract many visitors all year round.

The site is made up of two major attractions: the gothic roofless cathedral and the unusually shaped monastery of Montesiepi, and ancient hermitage, which hosts the tomb of San Galgano and the sword in the stone.
The music is by Era.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The 140th Missionary Expedition for the Salesians

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

Next Sunday’s Salesian Missionary Expedition will be the 140th to officially leave the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin-Valdocco.

As is traditional the mandate will be given by the Rector Major of the Salesians Fr Pascual Chávez Villanueva, IX successor of Don Bosco, in the course of Mass at which he will preside in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians.

Taking part in the 140th Salesian Missionary Expedition will be 33 Salesians, 7 Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, 7 lay volunteers from Italy, 1 from the Czech Republic, 5 from Slovakia, 2 from Spain, 1 from Mexico and 2 from Poland. These also include some young families.

The new missionaries will be sent to various works in all the continents including Europe which in recent years has become the focus of a new evangelisation and indicated by the Rector Major and his Council as a specific project of the Salesian Congregation.

The celebration will be preceded by a meeting of the young participants in the ”Harambee 2009” and Fr Pascual Chávez. In the theatre of Valdocco the Rector Major will speak on the subject “Certainly there is nothing more beautiful than meeting Christ and communicating Him to everyone,” and the missionaries about to leave will be introduced.

The giving of the missionary crucifix in the setting of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians is a tradition which in the Salesian world goes back to 1875 when on 11 November, Don Bosco sent the first group of missionaries to Patagonia. This 140th missionary expedition is also taking place in the context of the celebration which the Salesian Congregation is holding for its foundation.

The celebration will be broadcast with the production of the Missioni Don Bosco, live and in streaming on at 11.50 (GMT+1). During the coming week on Telepace, a special programme will be broadcast on the Salesian missions.

If you've never failed... you've never lived

Hat tip to the Anchoress on this video!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fr. Robert Barron on Faith

Archbishop Dolan: The Church is the one who dreams

A beautiful quote on the Church from the good Archbishop of New York. Thanks Deacon Greg!

"You know, the church is the one who dreams, the church is the one who constantly has the vision, the church is the one that’s constantly saying ‘Yes!’ to everything that life and love and sexuality and marriage and belief and freedom and human dignity—everything that that stands for, the church is giving one big resounding ‘Yes!’ The church founded the universities, the church was the patron of the arts, the scientists were all committed Catholics. And that’s what we have to recapture: the kind of exhilarating, freeing aspect. I mean, it wasn’t Ronald Reagan who brought down the Berlin Wall. It was Karol Wojtyła. I didn’t make that up: Mikhail Gorbachev said that...I guess one of the things that frustrates me pastorally is that there’s this caricature of the church—of being this oppressive, patriarchal, medieval, out-of-touch naysayer—where the opposite is true.” Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Monastery Timelapse

Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial TIMELAPSE from Antonio Casado on Vimeo.

This is just a very cool and beautiful time lapse of a Spanish Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Classic Don Camillo

I love these old Don Camillo vids!

Are you ready for the Vocation Boom?

There is no doubt that the interest in priesthood and religious life is on the upturn. Thanks be to God! But, are you ready for the Vocation boom? Jerry Usher of Catholic Answers has created a website to foster just that. Here is a snippet on his new project:

"Founded by Jerry Usher, creator and former host of Catholic Answers live, Vocation Boom is intent on creating a culture that’s open to the priesthood, clearing the path to discovery, and unlocking minds and hearts to God’s special call. Made up of a group of passionate advocates dedicated to supporting the priesthood as a life’s vocation and mission, Vocation Boom is a global support community. It's a place where youth and young men can find answers, encouragement, mentors and friends to aid in the discernment process and beyond. Vocation Directors, priests, and educators will also find an online community that provides the tools they need to cultivate those called to priestly life. Candidates can determine their specific path – diocesan or religious priesthood and, within religious priesthood, to which charism they are best suited. Even family and friends of men with a calling can find the resources that they need to support their loved ones’ choice to become a priest. VOCATIONBOOM.COM is dedicated to fostering a positive perception of the priesthood and culture of priestly vocations.

In this “Year for Priests,” the theme is, the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. But the Holy Father himself has quoted the wisdom of St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests, saying, “The great misfortune for us parish priests is that our souls grow tepid.” is a new source of inspiration for this spiritual numbness as it simultaneously helps young men answer the call and let their voices be heard. Log on to discover the first step in a leap of faith! Show your support of the priesthood by becoming a member today,!"

Hat tip to Patrick Madrid on this one!

Saint of the day: Blessed Herman the Cripple

Today the Church remembers a holy man with a weak body but a strong heart and soul: Herman the Cripple, also known as Herman the Lame and Herman of Reichenau, (1013-1054). He is a 'Blessed' of the Roman Catholic Church.

He was born in 1013 with a cleft palate, cerebral palsy and spina bifida. As a result he had great difficulty moving and could hardly speak. At the age of seven he was placed in a Benedictine monastery by his parents who could no longer look after him. He grew up in the monastery, learning from the monks and developing a keen interest in both theology and the world around him.

At the age of twenty Herman was professed as a Benedictine monk; he spent the rest of his life in the monastery. He was literate in several languages, including Arabic, Greek and Latin and wrote about mathematics, astronomy and Christianity. He built musical and astronomical instruments and was also a famed religious poet. When he went blind in later life he began writing hymns. His best known is Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen).

Herman died at the age of forty in the monastery in 1054. The Church beatified him in 1863.

To learn more about this wonderful saint please click here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pope Benedict to visit Fatima in May of 2010

Cardinal Zen challenges China to free Catholic Bishops from prison

Our Salesian Cardinal Joseph Zen is in the news again. He is challenging the Chinese government to free the imprisoned Catholic Bishops on the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic. Let's pray for the Cardinal and for the Church in China and especially for all those who continue to suffer in prisons. The following comes from the Asian News site:
In a message for the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Card Joseph Zen, the bishop emeritus of Honk Kong called on Chinese President Hu Jintao to free all Catholic bishops in prison.
In his message, which was made public yesterday on the website of the Diocese of Hong Kong, Cardinal Zen said: “After 60 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the time has come for its leaders to be courageous and correct past mistakes by releasing religious leaders who were deprived of their freedom (from Su Zhimin [bishop of Baoding (Hebei)], seized decades ago to Mgr Jia Zhi Guo [bishop of Zhengding], detained last March). This is the time for leaders to step down from their high places and directly engage our bishops in dialogue because they are the real heads of the Church.”
For the prelate, the government in Beijing should “sit down at the [negotiation] table with the Holy See and with sincerity find ways that are mutually acceptable to consult each other and live in harmony.”
In his message, Cardinal Zen praised some of Hu Jintao’s words for raising some hope. Speaking before the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on 20 September, Mr Hu had said that this institution was designed to “better carry forward democracy, strengthen solidarity and resolve contradictions”. This, the prelate said, “is what the people expect from the state”.
“I could not avoid applauding,” the cardinal explained, when he heard Hu say that the CPPCC should promote the harmonious development of “relations with religions” and with “compatriots both at home and abroad.” The CPPCC “should uphold the principle that man is at the centre, listen to the voice of the people [. . .], and explain the social situation and public opinion, offering advice and suggestions.”
For Cardinal Zen, when Hu speaks about “relations with religion,” he is referring to what Benedict XVI also wants as when he said: “I hope that the faithful in China can live in peace their life of faith, and contribute [to the development] of their homeland.”
According to Cardinal Zen, Hu’s programme is an “”unprecedented challenge . . . but also a great opportunity.”
Unfortunately, in China “some (opportunists) only pursue their own immediate interests and do not want to give up” centre stage and power, he said.
They are “only concerned with hanging onto power and [protect] their own interest without concern with the real interest and policies of the state.” All this leads to a “stalemate” and to delays that cause damage.
The cardinal is referring here to unspecified “ultra leftist” figures who still want to oppose the Christian faith to patriotism, but it is not hard to see that these (unnamed) individuals are in fact top officials in the country’s patriotic associations and the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Papal Trip to Britain in 2010

The following comes from the CNA:

Various British media outlets reported on Wednesday that Pope Benedict XVI has decided that he will visit Britain next September. Upon hearing the news, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said the “prospect of a visit by Pope Benedict fills us with joy.”

Although the news of a visit has not been officially announced by either the Vatican or Downing Street, the Pope has received several invitations to visit Britain, most recently from Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster reacted to the reports by saying, “We are encouraged and pleased at the news which has emerged about the possible official visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the U.K. next year.”

“We are glad the Holy Father is giving such consideration to the invitations he has received from Her Majesty’s Government, which accord closely to the wishes and requests also expressed by the Bishops of England & Wales,” the archbishop said.

“The prospect of a visit by Pope Benedict fills us with joy.”

The Archdiocese of Malta also recently announced that the Vatican is looking into a possible papal trip to the island nation in 2010.

It has been 27 years since a Pontiff visited Britain, with Pope John Paul II making the last trip in 1982.

How Great Thou Art by Carrie Underwood

Carrie does a beautiful job with this Christian classic.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Straw talks baseball and faith

Former baseball superstar Darryl Strawberry talks about his life in baseball, his failings, and his faith in God.
Hat tip to Spirit Daily for this one!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Amazing Timelapse

Pixel's Revenge timelapse showreel from David Coiffier on Vimeo.

Salesian Vocation Stories

Here are the stories of our men in formation!

God Bless America

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Amazing Camp Barnabas

Camp Barnabas from Steve V on Vimeo.

Hat tip to Deacon Greg again! This is priceless...

Camp Barnabas exists to provide life-changing opportunities to people with special needs in a Christian camp setting. Located in the southwest corner of Missouri, each summer we offer acceptance and love to more than 1,300 campers with special needs. Through adaptive activities, people with physical, mental, and/or medical challenges become participants, not observers, in the world around them. They leave Camp Barnabas knowing they are uniquely created to live lives of ability.

A little girl meets the Pope through Make a Wish Foundation

This is a beautiful video about a little 7 year old girl named Emma Watson. Emma was born with only half a heart, but it seems she was born with plenty of faith! Hat tip to Carlos on this one!

2nd Worldwide Rosary for the Unborn

The following comes from the CNA:

The second annual Worldwide Rosary for Unborn Babies is scheduled to take place from Friday Oct. 16 to Sunday Oct. 18.

Participants in the event will pray at least one Rosary on any of these days for the intention of an end to the killing of the unborn.

Last year’s Worldwide Rosary was one day only. A press release from the Memphis-based St. Michael the Archangel Organization, which is coordinating the event, said the addition of Friday was particularly intended for students at schools, while the addition of Sunday was intended to help encourage people to pray the Rosary before or after Masses.

St. Michael the Archangel Organization is also seeking volunteers to publicize the Worldwide Rosary and to translate information into other languages.

The group’s website is at

Pope Benedict speaks about true wisdom

The Holy Father speaks of the need for us to seek out the true wisdom found in sanctity. The following comes from CNA:

According to Benedict XVI, every once in a while it's good and necessary to stop and contemplate the beauty of true wisdom.

The Pope said this today before praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered at Castel Gandolfo. He took as his point of departure the Letter of James that contrasts "true wisdom" with "false wisdom."

Quoting James, the Pope noted that false wisdom is "worldly, material and diabolical, and is recognized by the fact that it provokes jealousies, arguments, disorder and every kind of evil deed," whereas "[true] wisdom, which comes from above is first of all pure, then peaceful, meek, docile, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere."

The Pope noted that James lists "seven qualities, according to the biblical custom, from which perfection of authentic wisdom comes, along with the positive effects that it produces."

"As first and principal quality, almost the premise for the others, St. James sets down 'purity,' that is, sanctity, the transparent reflection -- so to say -- of God in the human soul," he continued. "And, like God, from whom it comes, wisdom does not need to impose itself by force, because it has the invincible vigor of truth and love, that affirms itself.

"That is why it is peaceful, meek and docile; it does not need to be partial, nor does it need to lie; it is indulgent and generous, it is recognized by the good fruits that it bears in abundance."

Benedict XVI then asked, "Why not stop every once in a while to contemplate the beauty of this wisdom? Why not draw from this unpolluted source of God’s love the wisdom of the heart, which cleanses us from the filth of lies and egoism?"

"This holds true for everyone," he answered, "but, in the first place, for those who are called to be promoters and 'weavers' of peace in religious and civil communities, in social and political relations and in international relations."

"To 'do' works of peace we need to 'be' men of peace," the Pope continued. "If everyone, in his own circle, succeeds in rejecting the lie and violence in intentions, in words and in actions, carefully cultivating sentiments of respect, understanding and esteem for others, perhaps it would not resolve every daily problem, but we could face them more serenely and effectively."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Story of Sal Aunese and his son TC McCartny

ESPN did a beautiful job on this story. I love the LSU connection! Hat tip to Opinionated Catholic!

Amazing Grace by Josh Wilson

Vietnamese Benedictines begin a new monastery in Texas

The following comes from the Dallas Morning News site:

Here in cow country about 70 miles southeast of Dallas, amid scattered pecan trees and sloping fields of milkweed, six monks have come to live and pray.

They came from a monastery in New Mexico and, before that, from Vietnam.

"It's Buddhist, isn't it?" said 65-year-old Charlie Jock, who lives several miles away, making him one of the new monastery's closest neighbors. He'd heard of it, but hadn't gone by to check it out.

"I didn't figure it was gonna be any of my business to be nosy, so I just steered clear," he said.

Actually, these are Benedictine monks – that is, Catholic, not Buddhist. During their opening ceremony Saturday morning, they even received a goodwill letter from officials in Rome.

"On the happy inaugural occasion of the new monastic presence ... in the noble land of Texas," the letter began.

The monks will live a life inspired by the rule of St. Benedict, a sixth-century text that provides directives for daily living, such as communal prayer, meditative reading and manual labor. They'll wake before sunrise each morning for the first of six or seven prayer sessions each day, totaling four hours.

"Some may ask, 'What's the spirituality of the sixth century got to do with today's modern world?' " said Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas, speaking to several hundred Catholics gathered under a big white tent – most of them Vietnamese-Americans from the Dallas area.

He told them the monks' long days of praying and honoring God help those who do not have as much time. And the monks, with their sparing lifestyle, can serve as role models, he said.

"The rule of St. Benedict is also often spoken of as the virtue of moderation in our world, a world that enjoys excesses in every shape and form," the bishop said.

The new monastery is called Thien Tam, which is Vietnamese for "heavenly heart." It's an offshoot of a monastery in New Mexico called Christ in the Desert, which is funding the endeavor.

The monks have moved into a home on 300 acres, which they bought for $1 million and used to house an ostrich ranch.

Their goal is to grow – maybe 20 to 40 monks eventually – and become self-sufficient. They'll start by creating a retreat, which area Catholics could pay to attend.

In New Mexico, the monks have found other ways of making money, such as a gift shop and even brewing their own label of beer: Monks' Ale.

"Right now, we do manual labor, mostly cleaning, and we are preparing a place on which to go garden," said one of the monks, the Rev. Dominic Hanh, 40. He was a monk when he emigrated from Vietnam to New Mexico with his parents in 1991.

The monks wear digital watches, carry cellphones and read newspapers. But they generally stay away from television.

"It's good," Hanh said of monastic life. "Dedicate myself to God for life."

Their new neighbor, who was born and raised in the area, said having a monastery nearby is fine with him.

"More power to 'em," said Jock, who keeps a sun-bleached cow's skull on his front porch. "The good Lord never overlooks anything."

Also, check out this community of Vietnamese Cistercians in California!

A hat tip to Deacon Greg on this one!

The Nun Run

Too often money is an obstacle to a young person saying yes to a vocation. This is a nice story on how one young woman is trying to solve that problem.

The following comes from the CNA:

A young woman has completed a Chicago half-marathon in a fundraising campaign to help eliminate her personal debt so she can enter religious life.

Alicia Torres, a 2007 graduate of Loyola University Chicago, began “The Nun Run” campaign with the support of friends. She and five companions ran the 13.1-mile Chicago Half Marathon on September 13 to raise funds to help pay down her debt.

In a Thursday e-mail interview with CNA, Torres said she plans to be a part of a new Franciscan community at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angles in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park neighborhood. The community is under obedience to Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Francis George and will be under the oversight of Fr. Bob Lombardo, CFR.

“It is a great joy and honor for me to be part of this beautiful work for God,” she said.

Torres said the Chicago Half Marathon went “tremendously well” despite an ankle injury two weeks prior to the race.

“This was my first distance run since freshman year of high school when I ran cross country. I was able to finish 13.1 miles on Sunday in 2:40:03 (Thanks be to God!).”

Though “extremely exhausted,” Torres said it was motivating for her to offer a specific intention for each mile.

She reported that she has raised at least $28,000, not including donations sent to the Laboure Society within the past two weeks. The Laboure Society, an organization dedicated to eliminating debt for prospective entrants to religious life or the priesthood, is helping the young woman.

According to Torres, her initial debt of $94,000 was due to some “very bad interest rates,” adding that she works full time and has paid down over $12,000 of her debt with her own money. Torres presently works for the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Respect Life Office.

Her “very positive” interactions with the media have assisted her cause. The Chicago Tribune’s Manya Brashear was “such a delight” and spent nearly six hours with her and her community, Torres told CNA. The Catholic New World, where her friend Joyce Duriga is an editor, has also been helpful as has radio host Drew Mariani.

Torres reported that the first day she was on Mariani’s show she received about $4,500 in donations.

She said she was “absolutely shocked” to be interviewed for the National Public Radio show “All Things Considered.”

“I had wanted to pursue a career in journalism before I became serious about God's call and will for me, and so all of this just proves God is not outdone in generosity,” said Torres.

She told CNA that a “vocal minority” has doubted the authenticity of her mission, an attitude which she attributed to a lack of understanding of the nature of religious life and how it differs from the life of a lay person working with the poor.

“I am humbled by the support of absolute strangers,” she added. “I've had several checks for hundreds and even $1,000 from people I don't even know. An anonymous donor sent $10,000 to help me. As I said, God is just not outdone in generosity.”

Torres said she has been invited to be a guest speaker at a local Catholic elementary school for an all school assembly, where she will participate with the schoolchildren in their school's Fun-Run.

“My vocation to religious life is not just for me,” she told CNA. Though her vocation is her path to holiness, she said it is also for “God's people.”

“It is so beautiful to see so many--married couples, families and single people, priests and religious--come together to support, encourage, and above all pray for me! I am honored. And I owe it all to our Lord Jesus Christ through the intercession of His Mother Mary.”

Writing on her website, Torres explained that her vocation was nurtured through her faith life and her family. She and her siblings were homeschooled for some of their education and the focus of their family activities was St. Benedict’s Chapel. Torres said her mother would lead the children in daily prayers for vocations.

She described her parish priest Fr. Damien as a great influence and also praised the “motherly spirit” of Sr. Marie-Jean of Immaculate Heart of Mary School.

After college, her correspondence with a priest named Fr. Mercer and the invitation of Fr. Lombardo helped lead her to commit to religious life.

“I’ve finally been quiet enough to hear what God has been whispering in my heart for years, and now that I have experienced that Joy that only comes from God, I know there is nothing else that could complete me other than giving myself fully to my Beloved.”

Torres’ website is at