No events in the diocese.
NECROLOGY — Rev. Nicholas Femenia, C.M., died on this date in 1999.
First Reading: First John 1:5–2:2
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 124:2-3, 4-5, 7-8
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-18
Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service
Indianapolis marks 500th anniversary of St. Francis Xavier’s birth
INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — Catholics from India who live in the Indianapolis Archdiocese had a double reason this December to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Francis Xavier. The Spanish Jesuit missionary, who was born in 1506, is the patron saint of India and patron saint of the Indianapolis Archdiocese. “Our Catholic Church is a missionary church,” said Capuchin Father Bernard Varghese, a native of Kerala, India, in a homily during a Dec. 2 liturgy at the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. “We need hundreds of Xaviers to continue our missionary charism,” he said. “We need people who can preach and teach by words and lives.” Carmelite Father Matthew Joseph Choorapanthiyil, also a Kerala native, who now ministers at the Carmelite Monastery of St. Joseph in Terre Haute, and Father William Munshower, a retired diocesan priest from Indianapolis, concelebrated the Mass.
– – –
Jesuit coffee company brews up peace, fair trade, stewardship
PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) — It could be called the ultimate “green” bean — a coffee bean that promotes peace, fair trade, education and organic stewardship. MadreMonte is a company that promotes 100-percent Colombian organic coffee and is linked with the Colombian Jesuits who have been helping Colombian farmers for the past 42 years. The U.S. company was co-founded by Jesuit Father Bill Watson of Portland and Jesuit Father Joe Aguilar of Colombia. To make it a for-profit company, Father Watson asked Joe Verschueren, the founder and CEO of the online printing company, ImageX.com, to give them financial backing. Verschueren is a graduate of Gonzaga University, the Jesuit college in Spokane, Wash. Father Aguilar has a doctorate in environmental studies from the University of California at Berkeley. MadreMonte sells its coffee — highest-quality Colombian and completely organic — for $11 for a 12-ounce bag. It is available only through the company’s Web site, http://www.madremonte.com, to keep costs down and maximize profits for investing in programs that advance sustainability.
– – –
Christmas is reminder of God’s infinite love, pope says at audience
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When God chose to become man through the birth of Jesus, he gave the gift of his infinite love to all people, Pope Benedict XVI said. Christians joyously celebrate Christmas as it marks the mysterious event of God’s eternal word made into flesh for the salvation of humanity, he said Dec. 27 at his last general audience of 2006. The Christmas message is: “With the birth of Jesus, God showed his good will toward all people,” he said to 9,000 of the faithful in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall. When Christ was born in the cave in Bethlehem, the heavens broke out in praise of God: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests,” the pope said. The pope said this song of praise helps explain why God decided to become man.
– – –
Pope receives Iranian delegation, letter from president
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI met briefly Dec. 27 with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who gave him a letter from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Vatican press office confirmed the receipt of the letter, but did not comment on its contents. Pope Benedict met Mottaki and a four-member delegation in one of the reception rooms of the Vatican audience hall immediately after the pope’s weekly general audience. “During the course of the meeting, the Iranian representatives expressed their best wishes to the pope and their pleasure for 50 years of diplomatic relations between Iran and the Holy See,” said a Vatican statement. “For his part, the Holy Father also offered them best wishes and reaffirmed the role the Holy See intends to exercise for peace in the world, not as a political authority, but religious and moral, appealing to consciences so that the problems of peoples always are resolved through dialogue in mutual understanding and peace,” the statement said.
– – –
Few foreigners spend Christmas in Bethlehem due to political tensions
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (CNS) — Six friends, members of a local Christian choir, huddled together in long coats and scarves for warmth against the evening chill on Manger Square in Bethlehem. The admittedly disappointed choir was supposed to have performed along with other local choirs for Christmas Eve, but instead a Spanish women’s group had taken over the whole time slot. “Ten years ago there were choirs performing here on Christmas from all over the world (like) Korea, Poland. So now we are happy for the Spanish group. We’d like to see more groups coming,” said Munther Isaac, 27, a Presbyterian and teacher at Bethlehem Bible College. Around the friends, groups of mainly young men milled about and street vendors sold hot corncob, coffee, party hats and glow-in-the dark toys. Few foreigners were among the crowd — just those with tickets to midnight Mass who gathered close to the church and arrived just before the church doors opened. This meant little business for the local souvenir shops.
– – –
Priest says children fear Gaza Strip is too dangerous for Santa visit
JERUSALEM (CNS) — Papa Noel is too afraid to come to the Gaza Strip, the first graders of Holy Family Parish school told their teachers as they accepted the traditional holiday chocolates before Christmas. Normally the younger children believed Papa Noel, or Santa Claus, brought them sweets for Christmas, said Msgr. Manuel Musallam, the Holy Family Parish priest, in a telephone interview with Catholic News Service. But just days before Christmas, three children were killed in the infighting between Hamas and Fatah forces which is dragging the Gaza Strip even further into a spiral of violence and lawlessness. The killings terrified the students, leading them to believe the Gaza Strip was too scary for Santa Claus to visit, the priest said. And parents were not able to buy traditional holiday gifts and clothing for their children, said Msgr. Musallam. Many are government employees who haven’t been paid because of the international boycott against the Hamas-led government since January. Other families are living only from their savings, he said.
– – –
Archdiocesan office cares for mental health of Peruvians
AYACUCHO, Peru (CNS) — As Reynaldo Cuba Medina’s fingers skipped nimbly over the weft of a large loom, a pattern of colorful Inca figures emerged from threads. “I learned to do this from a neighbor a long time ago, when I was well,” he said. That was before Cuba, 22, shut himself up in his family’s house, fearing that everyone was watching him. The first person who managed to break through his shell was Columban Sister Antonnette Carbon, who visited at his mother’s invitation. “I agreed to talk to her, but in the dark,” Cuba said. At Sister Antonnette’s encouragement, he finally agreed to go with his mother to the Ayacucho Archdiocese’s mental health office. Now, after two and a half years of treatment for schizophrenia, Cuba is in charge of the weaving workshop in the group therapy office. The mountainous farming region in southern Peru was the epicenter of brutal violence between Maoist insurgents and the military in the 1980s and early 1990s. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended that mental health care be provided to people affected by the violence, and the archdiocese took up the cause in 2003.
– – –
Cuban faithful celebrate Christmas with prayers for peace
HAVANA (CNS) — The Catholic Church in Cuba is praying for the country’s overall improvement in the new year, said Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino of Havana in a Christmas message. “May nothing disturb social coexistence, may the overall situation improve next year, and may well-being increase so we can live in peace,” said Cardinal Ortega. He said Catholic celebrations on the island were “a unanimous clamor of peace” from faithful “men and women of all ages but especially youth.” A Christmas concert, which also marked Cardinal Ortega’s 25 years as head of the Archdiocese of Havana, was to be held Dec. 27 in Havana’s cathedral. Christmas, which had been missing from the Cuban calendar since 1969, finally became an official celebration after Pope John Paul II’s visit to Cuba in January 1998, when the Cuban government agreed to declare Dec. 25 a holiday.
– – –
Davenport Catholic university names first female president
DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNS) — St. Ambrose University in Davenport will have a female president for the first time in its 125-year history. Sister Joan Lescinski, a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet who is president of St. Mary-of-the-Woods College outside Terre Haute, Ind., succeeds Edward Rogalski, who will retire this summer after 20 years as president of St. Ambrose. In announcing its selection Dec. 20, the St. Ambrose board of directors called Sister Lescinski “the ideal person” to build on St. Ambrose’s record of academic excellence. She “brings proven presidential leadership … and a personal leadership style that unites students, faculty and staff in achieving important goals,” said Bishop Martin J. Amos of Davenport, president of the St. Ambrose board of directors.
– – –
Father Moreau, founder of Holy Cross order, to be beatified
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The French founder of the Holy Cross priests, brothers and sisters will be beatified in his home diocese in September, the religious order announced. The Vatican Secretariat of State informed the order Dec. 7 that Father Basile-Antoine Marie Moreau will be beatified Sept. 15, 2007, in Le Mans, France. Beatification is a major step in the church’s sainthood process. Born Feb. 11, 1799, he was a priest of the Diocese of Le Mans and a seminary professor. He established two societies of the Association of the Holy Cross — one for men and one for women — with a focus on educating young people and evangelizing. Members of the Holy Cross family continue to operate schools around the world, including the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
– – –
Liturgical Press gets new editorial director
COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. (CNS) — Liturgical Press has named Hans Christoffersen as its new editorial director. Christoffersen has worked for the past seven years with Liguori Publications, a Redemptorist publishing house in Liguori, Mo., where he was editorial director for the past three years. He has a licentiate in theology and has also served as a director of retreats and conferences on faith and values. Liturgical Press, which specializes in publications about liturgy, Scripture, theology, spirituality, ministry and prayer, is run by the Benedictine priests and brothers of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville.
– – –
Wisconsin bishop given civil rights award for stand on marriage
MADISON, Wis. (CNS) — Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison received a national civil rights award for his actions in support of a state constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage. The Congress of Racial Equality and the Alliance for Marriage stood together in honoring Bishop Morlino with CORE’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented at St. Patrick Church in Madison Dec. 8 by Niger Innis, national spokesman for CORE, and Matt Daniels, founder of the Alliance for Marriage. The award honored Bishop Morlino for resisting groups seeking to deprive him of his fundamental right — as an American and as a Catholic leader — to express support for a state constitutional amendment to protect marriage between a man and a woman. It was the first time that the Alliance for Marriage had joined with CORE in presenting the award.