In the Diocese
Day of Healing for those who have experienced an abortion, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
SAN ANGELO –Dialogue with Youth Representatives, Christ the King Retreat Center, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
First Reading: First John 3:11-21
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 100:1-2, 3, 4, 5
Gospel: John 1:43-51
First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13
Second Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12
First Reading: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
Second Reading: Acts 10:34-38
Gospel: Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
News from the Catholic News Service
Florida bishops challenge Catholics to act on behalf of farmworkers
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) — Challenging Catholics and all people of good will to “see where love is needed and act accordingly,” Florida’s bishops urged consideration of how everything from consumer decisions to government policies affect the state’s most vulnerable workers. The bishops’ new pastoral letter, titled “Honoring the Dignity of Work: A Call for Solidarity With Florida’s Farmworkers and Other Vulnerable Workers,” calls for specific actions by individual Catholics and families, parishes, Catholic institutions, government agencies and others. “This is an appropriate time to call attention to the human dignity of people from many backgrounds and nations — particularly people from Mexico and Central America, but also Haitians, African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Vietnamese and others — who have come to Florida to work in agriculture, our second-largest industry,” said Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee at a Dec. 11 press conference in Tallahassee. The document — a publication of the Florida Catholic Conference, the bishops’ lobbying arm — was written in response to situations affecting farmworkers identified at an October 2005 Farmworker Forum.
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Catholic transitional housing centers help homeless youths
ST. LOUIS (CNS) — “Before you know it you’ll be 30 and have no education,” Michael Gunn tells a small group of older teens gathered on a street corner in North St. Louis. Gunn is part of a Covenant House Missouri effort to reach out to young people ages 17 to 21, especially those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. “Our youth have such potential; all they need is direction. With support, love, encouragement and a few resources they can turn that potential into successful independent futures … and that’s what we try to offer at Covenant House Missouri,” said Suzanne Wagener, executive director. Covenant House Missouri, a program rooted in the Catholic tradition, was brought to St. Louis by Philadelphia’s Cardinal Justin Rigali when he was archbishop of St. Louis. It serves those who fall through the cracks of the social service system because they are too old for youth services yet not ready for programs targeting adults.
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Parish-based program uses technology to help nurture modern flock
HOLBROOK, N.Y. (CNS) — At the Church of the Good Shepherd in Holbrook, members of the WebShepherds use technology to look out for the spiritual needs of the parish flock by maintaining a comprehensive parish Web site, providing free e-mail accounts to parishioners, and teaching them how to better use their computers and accessories. This parish ministry was the brainchild of Nick Hernandez, the parish webmaster, who started it in March 2000 “as a way to provide more information about our parish.” The primary job of the WebShepherds is to build and maintain the parish Web site. Seven active members usually meet once a month to develop new ideas for the parish Web site as well as brainstorm about other ways to help the parish. The parish Web site features the weekly bulletin and calendar of events, pages devoted to the different parish ministries, photos from different parish events, and links to liturgical, prayer and social justice resources.
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2006 revealed a bumper crop of good films, if you knew where to look
NEW YORK (CNS) — Those who complain that they don’t make quality films “like they used to” should get out more often and see what a rich palette of films — both domestic and foreign — are available, provided one chooses carefully. There was a surfeit of superior films in 2006, with solid moral underpinnings, so much so that narrowing the field down to 10 was more difficult than ever. From powerful anti-war films to inspirational true-life (though highly disparate) stories to a superior adaptation of a literary classic, they ran the proverbial gamut. Here, in alphabetical order, are the top 10 films of 2006 as selected by the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: “Akeelah & the Bee,” “Babel,” “Flags of Our Fathers”/”Letters From Iwo Jima,” “Joyeux Noel,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Miss Potter,” “The Painted Veil,” “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “Sophie Scholl” and “United 93.”
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Serve the poor to better know God, pope says at soup kitchen
ROME (CNS) — Visiting a shelter and soup kitchen operated by the Rome diocesan Caritas organization, Pope Benedict XVI said offering loving service to others is a way to better know God. “Here one can experience the fact that when we love our neighbor we know God better: In the grotto of Bethlehem, he revealed himself to us in the poverty of a newborn needing everything,” the pope said Jan. 4. When the pope arrived at the Caritas complex, it was named for the neighborhood, Colle Oppio, where it is located. But before he left, he had officially renamed it in memory of Pope John Paul II. The pope greeted hundreds of people who had gathered outside the complex before touring the reception center, the kitchen, the dining room and the Nativity scene set up by the center’s clients and volunteers. In the courtyard of the soup kitchen, he spoke to some of the 120 volunteers who regularly staff the center and to several hundred of its regular guests.
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Spanish bishop rejects Muslims’ request to worship in cathedral
OXFORD, England (CNS) — Bishop Juan Asenjo Pelegrina of Cordoba, Spain, has rejected calls by Muslims to be allowed to worship in the Cordoba cathedral, which in medieval times was a mosque. Bishop Asenjo said the Cordoba Diocese is “not against Muslims having a worthy place of worship, just as it also wishes this for Christians living in countries with a Muslim majority,” but “the shared use of Cordoba cathedral by Catholics and Muslims would not contribute to peaceful interfaith relations.” Spain’s Islamic Board, which represents a community of 800,000 in the traditionally Catholic country of 44 million, recently wrote to Pope Benedict XVI requesting Vatican authorization to share the cathedral. In a Dec. 27 statement responding to the request, Bishop Asenjo said he believed Cordoba’s “relatively small” Muslim minority — less than 1 percent of its 350,000 inhabitants — did not need extra facilities. Bishop Asenjo said his diocese favored “relations of respect and appreciation” with Muslims and hoped to maintain dialogue.
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International study program in Austria illustrates universal church
GAMING, Austria (CNS) — The international study abroad program at the church at Kartause Maria Thron, a former monastery in Gaming, has been an example of the interplay of the Eastern and Latin-rite Catholic churches and the universality of Catholicism. The Gaming campus hosts students from 15-20 countries in the study abroad programs for the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio; Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla.; the Language and Catechetical Institute, for Eastern and Central European students; and the International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. Students at Gaming are from different schools, countries and rites of the Catholic Church, which allows several opportunities for experiencing different expressions of communal prayer. Liturgies and Masses from different rites are offered weekly, and the Marian devotions of the rosary and the Byzantine Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God are organized events.
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Chaldean patriarchate transfers seminary, university to northern Iraq
ROME (CNS) — Continued violence against Catholic priests and church property in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad has prompted the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate of Baghdad to move the city’s theological university and seminary to northern Iraq. Iraq’s only Christian theological university, the Pontifical Babel College for Philosophy and Theology, and the patriarchal major seminary, Simon Peter, were to be transferred to Arbil, said a Jan. 4 report by the Rome-based AsiaNews news agency. The two institutions had been closed for several months because of a lack of security and increasing violence in Baghdad. The seminary’s rector and vice rector had been kidnapped in September and December, respectively; the two men eventually were released unharmed. AsiaNews said the move “had been in the pipeline for sometime,” but the decision was not made official until Jan. 4.
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Candy store with nun’s special confections aids Franciscan ministries
HIGHLAND, Ind. (CNS) — If browsers were to peek into the windows of Poverello Delights in Highland, they wouldn’t be surprised to find the candy store bustling with activity. What might be surprising is that the proprietor is a nun. Open since October, Poverello Delights is the realization of a dream that Franciscan Sister Evelyn Brokish believes to be the result of divine providence. Sister Evelyn has spent most of her 47 years as a religious sister serving as a professional liturgical musician in various parish communities, which often had no budget for the music program. “We used to collect aluminum cans to finance the music ministries,” she said with a laugh. “Our pastor once commented that we needed to find a different means. All we needed was a little imagination.” While she currently markets Poverello Delights through local chambers of commerce and word of mouth, she admits that she is hesitant to grow too fast. “I want to make sure I have a handle on everything and that there is a sufficient variety to offer my customers,” she said.
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Nigerian cardinal condemns government approval of condom factory
LAGOS, Nigeria (CNS) — A Nigerian cardinal has condemned the government’s recent approval of a billion-dollar condom factory in Yenagoa. Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi Okogie of Lagos said the “condom is widely known not to be a safe protector against HIV/AIDS. It is widely acknowledged today that the safest measure against HIV/AIDS is abstinence.” He expressed concern about the condom factory in his New Year’s Day message, made available to journalists in early January. The cardinal said he wondered why the Nigerian government, which claims to be championing the eradication of HIV/AIDS, is now encouraging the spread of the virus through the use of condoms. He urged the government to reconsider the plan “in order to ensure a healthy nation.”