12.01.06 Update

Today’s Readings

First Reading: Revelation 20:1-4, 11–21:2
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 84:3, 4, 5-6, 8
Gospel: Luke 21:29-33

Today Events in the Diocese-no scheduled events, appearances

Necrology — Rev. John A. Pierce (died 1979)

Today’s Headlines from the Catholic News Service

Night at movies can be opportunity to enrich one’s faith, says nun

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (CNS) — A night at the movies isn’t just about entertainment, according to Sister Nancy Usselmann, a Daughter of St. Paul. It also can be an opportunity for enriching one’s faith, she said. Sister Nancy gave some insight into ways media can be used as a means of recognizing and understanding God in a workshop titled “Meeting Jesus at the Movies: Reel Spirituality” during the Metuchen Diocese’s catechetical congress in early November at the St. John Neumann Pastoral Center in Piscataway. “God is present in the culture and is involved in all human experience,” said Sister Nancy, who is the manager of Pauline Books and Media in New York City. She explained that to grow in their faith people must recognize the presence of Christ in all of their activities. “We can’t separate media from the rest of our faith life,” she said. By using a method called “deep viewing,” she demonstrated that lessons can be found in movies that are adaptable to an individual’s unique struggles. Deep viewing involves being attentive to the experience of watching a film, asserting and articulating the feelings created by the movie, opening a dialogue with the experience and learning from it.

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Catholic publishers introduce computer games for religious education

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Two Catholic publishers have announced the launch of new educational video and computer games designed to make learning about the Catholic faith and the Bible more fun. “Classroom Jeopardy! Catholic Edition” — developed in cooperation with the makers of the award-winning television show — is now available from the Pflaum Publishing Group, a division of Peter Li Education Group. “Gospel Champions,” a new series of educational computer games based on the Gospel readings, resulted from a partnership of Catholic publisher Silver Burdett Ginn Religion with Third Day Games. The games can be used in traditional Catholic classrooms or in parish religious education, catechist formation and confirmation programs or for retreats, community events, family game nights, church festivals or fundraising activities. More information and a sample game of “Catholic Jeopardy” are available online at http://www.pflaum.com/jeopardy. Additional information and a demonstration of “Gospel Champions” are available online at http://www.GospelChampions.com.

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Catholic Digest takes young readers back to Mary’s time in Nazareth

NEW LONDON, Conn. (CNS) — What was it like to grow up in Nazareth in Mary and Joseph’s time? What did people eat for dinner? Did children go to school? What did people do for fun? Through a new booklet produced by Catholic Digest, young Catholics can get answers to those questions and more as the national monthly magazine takes them on a journey back in time to explore daily life in Nazareth with young Mary. A 24-page booklet, “If I Grew Up in Nazareth … Take a Trip Back to the Time of Mary, Joseph and Jesus,” includes an interactive account of the life of the young Mary, packed with activities and crafts, vocabulary words related to the Catholic faith and educational writing exercises. Geared for third- through seventh-graders, the colorfully illustrated booklet also features fun facts about “The Nativity Story,” a movie filmed in 2006 about young Mary and Joseph. Copies of “If I Grew Up in Nazareth” may be ordered by phone at: (800) 321-0411, or online at: http://www.catholicdigest.com/nativity. The booklet is 99 cents per copy and a minimum order of 10 copies is required.

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In sign of respect to Muslims, pope prays in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNS) — In a gesture of respect to Muslims in Turkey and around the world, Pope Benedict XVI prayed in Istanbul’s famed Blue Mosque, his first papal visit to an Islamic place of worship. As the pope walked with Mustafa Cagrici, the grand mufti of Istanbul, to the “mihrab” niche that points the way toward Mecca, the mufti said he was going to pray. The pope stood alongside him, bowed his head and moved his lips in silence for about a minute. The Nov. 30 encounter was warm and cordial and contrasted sharply with recent controversies and tensions between the pope and the Muslim world. The 20-minute stop was a last-minute addition to the papal program. The pope accepted the gift of a ceramic tile inscribed with the word “Allah” in the form of a dove. Placing his hand on the tile, the pope said: “Thank you for this gift. Let us pray for brotherhood and for all humanity.” “Your Holiness, please remember us,” the mufti replied. Built by Sultan Ahmet I in the early 1600s, the Blue Mosque, with six minarets and cascading domes, is one of the most famous religious buildings in the world.

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At Divine Liturgy, pope, patriarch affirm commitment to unity

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNS) — Claiming the brotherhood of their respective patron saints — the apostles Andrew and Peter — the spiritual leaders of the world’s Orthodox and the world’s Catholics joined together in prayer and solemnly affirmed their commitment to the full unity of their churches. Incense and ancient hymns chanted in Greek set the atmosphere as Pope Benedict XVI paid homage to the Orthodox Church by attending a Nov. 30 Divine Liturgy celebrated by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. The liturgy at the Orthodox Church of St. George in Istanbul marked the feast of St. Andrew, patron of the patriarchate. The pope and patriarch greeted each other with kisses on the cheek, but then the pope moved to a raised wooden throne at the side of the church while the patriarch celebrated the solemn liturgy.

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Polish bishops launch commission to probe communist infiltration

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — The Polish bishops’ conference has launched a historical commission to investigate the infiltration by communist agents in the church. Auxiliary Bishop Piotr Libera of Katowice told the Polish information agency, KAI, that work on the “several dozen kilometers of files on the church” must have “a clear methodological program.” Bishop Libera, general secretary of the Polish bishops’ conference, said the bishops would approve “competent experts” to help the commission, which will be chaired by a former constitutional court judge, Wojciech Laczkowski. The bishop said the commission will rely on Poland’s National Remembrance Institute, which controls access to former police files. Bishop Libera added that he hoped to “cooperate closely” with separate commissions already working in several Catholic dioceses.

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China ordains new bishop without Vatican approval

HONG KONG (CNS) — Father Wang Renlei, 36, was illicitly ordained coadjutor bishop of Xuzhou, China, at the diocese’s Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral Nov. 30. The ordination did not have the approval of the Vatican. Father John Dai Zhenbao, a parish priest at the cathedral, told the Asian church news agency UCA News that Bishop Joseph Zhao Fengchang of Yanggu was the ordaining prelate. Bishops Francis Lu Xinping of Nanjing and Joseph Xu Honggen of Suzhou were the other ordaining prelates, Father Dai said. Also present at the episcopal ordination were Bishop Thomas Qian Yurong, 94, of Xuzhou and Bishop Peter Feng Xinmao of Hengshui. Except for Bishops Lu and Qian, all the other bishops involved have been approved by the Vatican.

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Museum marks life of activist priest killed in communist Poland

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — In the darkness of a church basement, video pictures of a massacred face and beaten hands throw light on a nearby wall, where a glass case contains a priest’s cassock, a police baton, a length of twine and a sack of stones. When the crypt museum was opened at Warsaw’s St. Stanislaw Kostka Church in 2004, it was hoped it would help preserve memories of Father Jerzy Popieluszko, a popular human rights activist murdered under communist rule. Two years and 160,000 visitors later, organizers are pleased with the interest shown in the life of a priest many hope will one day be named a saint. “It’s surpassed our expectations,” said the church’s rector, Msgr. Zygmunt Malacki. “This is a museum which not only records and displays, but also educates the people who see it.” The bound and gagged body of 37-year-old Father Popieluszko was dredged from the Vistula River Oct. 30, 1984, 11 days after his abduction by agents from Poland’s Interior Ministry.

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Caring for the caregiver: Caritas Jerusalem helps quadriplegic’s dad

JERUSALEM (CNS) — Hamdi Aman has not told his 5-year-old daughter, Maria, how she became a quadriplegic six months ago. Maria knows her mother, grandmother, uncle and 6-year-old brother died in the same “accident” that left her without the use of her arms and legs and on a respirator for the rest of her life. But she does not know the accident was an Israeli missile intended for a wanted gunman. The missile destroyed her family when it hit their car during a family outing in the Gaza Strip. “How can I tell her that it was the Israelis who shot the missile at our car when she is here, surrounded by Israelis? She is 5 years old; she doesn’t need to know. All the Jews here love my daughter. If I tell her, it will be difficult,” said Aman. For six months Aman and Maria have been in Alyn Hospital, Israel’s only pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation center, in Jerusalem. The treatment is being funded by the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Upon hearing of Maria in the media, Caritas Jerusalem sent the head of its social work department, Mirvat Nader, to meet Aman so he would have someone to turn to for help.

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Learning curve: Pope Benedict’s approach to media, speeches evolving

WITH THE POPE IN TURKEY (CNS) — Offering his thanks to journalists who help him get his message to the world, Pope Benedict XVI also highlighted the responsibility that goes with summarizing someone else’s thoughts and words. In part, the pope’s remarks at the beginning of his Nov. 28-Dec. 1 trip to Turkey could be read as an acknowledgment that he, like many people, thought the trip to Turkey would be delicate because of somewhat tense Catholic-Muslim relations. With that in mind, it made sense for the pope to give a little pep talk to the 69 reporters, photographers, producers and media technicians accompanying him to Turkey. Speaking on the plane before takeoff from Rome Nov. 28, the pope told them he wanted “to express sincerely my gratitude for the work you do.” While not exactly excusing them for occasionally making mistakes, the pope told the reporters he recognized that theirs is a “difficult work, a work often done in difficult conditions.”

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Iraq’s Vatican ambassador acknowledges rising toll, seeks more help

ROME (CNS) — The Iraqi ambassador to the Vatican acknowledged the increasing violence in his country, but issued a plea for international support to help stabilize the country. “We are very much concerned” about the increasing numbers of civilian deaths, said Albert Yelda in a Nov. 30 interview with Catholic News Service. But implementing democratization and stability “is a long process” and “we need multinational forces” to help “because they are doing an excellent job.” Yelda admitted ethnic cleansing is taking place in Iraq. “Christians are fearing for their lives like other minorities trapped in this policy of ethnic cleansing,” he said. The “elements of instability” are people who “lost their influence” and “lost ground” when Saddam Hussein was overthrown in the U.S.-led 2003 invasion, Yelda said. Saddam’s “regime of mass graves is still at work (though now it is) maybe behind religious dimensions,” meaning that violence, killings and threats now are based on religious divisions rather than the personal whims of a dictator. It is “very important for us” that a program of national reconciliation be carried forward and that all factions and parties “become part of the political process,” Yelda said.

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Former diocesan newspaper editor, Msgr. Menard, dies at age 94

SALINA, Kan. (CNS) — Msgr. Raymond Menard, editor for seven decades of the Northwestern Kansas Register, the diocesan newspaper of Salina, died Nov. 27 at the Catholic Care Center in Bel Aire. He was 94. He had retired from the Register in April and moved to the Catholic retirement community outside Wichita in July. He had been a resident of the facility’s nursing home for the past two months. The priest, ordained 67 years ago, not only edited the diocesan newspaper, but also was a hospital chaplain for nearly 30 years and pastor for several rural parishes. For most of his life as a priest he lived in Salina. While he was chaplain at St. John’s Hospital he lived next door to the offices of the Register. In an interview shortly after his retirement, he said the two jobs meshed nicely because he could leave his typewriter and be in the emergency room in minutes.

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Deacon recalls crash that killed West Virginia team, his father

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (CNS) — It has been called the worst tragedy in U.S. college sports history — the Nov. 14, 1970, plane crash in which 75 Marshall University football players, coaches, fans and flight crew were killed while traveling back to Huntington after a game against East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. One of the darkest moments for the Mountain State, it is a loss that still brings tears to the eyes of many each time the Thundering Herd team takes the field or when the familiar “We Are Marshall” cheers echo across the Joan C. Edwards Stadium from proud green-and-white-clad fans. The story of how the grief-stricken Marshall and Huntington communities pulled together and lived through this tragedy has been immortalized in the aptly titled “We Are Marshall,” a movie scheduled for release across the country Dec. 22. For the state, the school and the community, the movie is expected to bring a sense of healing and closure, said Deacon Michael R. Prestera Jr., a lifelong Huntington resident who lost his father in the crash.

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Volunteers gut 1,000 homes, take inventory to assist Katrina victims

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — As a group of Catholic Charities volunteers from Dubuque, Iowa, gutted the 1,000th home in the continuing cleanup of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, archivists from six U.S. dioceses joined in the inventory and recovery of sacred objects in flood-ravaged parishes. Through Catholic Charities’ Operation Helping Hands program, by mid-November 6,848 volunteers had gutted 999 homes and given 178,641 hours of service. More than 3,000 volunteers were scheduled to participate through March 2007 and about 1,300 homes remained on the waiting list. A group from the Church of the Resurrection in Dubuque worked on the 1,000th home Nov. 15. The archivists also documented the extent of the destruction and recorded the presence of immovable objects, such as stained-glass windows. The six volunteers and their dioceses were: Brian Fahey, Charleston, S.C.; David Gray, San Diego; Margaret O’Toole, Chicago; Marianist Brother Ed Loch, San Antonio; James Neal, Phoenix; and Robert Johnson-Lally, Boston.

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Illinois Catholic says faith has helped him cope with AIDS, prejudice

WHEATON, Ill. (CNS) — A typed copy of a Scripture passage is taped to the front door of Tom Hogueisson’s apartment in a housing complex supported by Wheaton Franciscan Services and designated for people with AIDS. It is from Chapter 5 of the Gospel of Matthew, Verses 10 to 12. Drawn from the end of the beatitudes, the verses discuss God’s promises for persecuted believers. Hogueisson said it has particular meaning to him. He has been beaten up, he said, because of his homosexuality and having AIDS has isolated him from the community. Doctors discovered he had the disease in 1984, and he was kicked out of the Army, he said. Later, his activism calling for HIV/AIDS research and adequate health care for those with the disease made him the victim of violent attacks. He feels vulnerable to hate crimes and harassment. Even at home, the 52-year-old member of St. Michael Parish in Wheaton doesn’t feel safe. There is no security staff on site. “When you live in AIDS housing, you’re susceptible to outside violators,” he said in an interview with the Catholic Explorer, newspaper of the Joliet Diocese.


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