Today (08.23.07)

Today in the Diocese

Fr. Serafin Avenido installed as new pastor at Brownwood’s St. Mary, 6:30 p.m. Bishop Pfeifer will preside over the installation Mass.


Rev. Charles Knapp (1978)
Deacon Eufracio Hernandez (1998)

Today’s Readings

Judges 11:29-39
Psalm 40:5, 7-10
Matthew 22:1-14

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service

By Catholic News Service


Despite some successes, challenges remain for New Orleans health care

WASHINGTON (CNS) — What began nearly two years ago as a temporary health care site operating off of a card table on a New Orleans sidewalk has developed into a permanent primary care clinic serving more than 12,000 patients since Hurricane Katrina struck. The Tulane Community Health Center at Covenant House operates with a unique set of resources that includes faith-based groups, medical and nursing students, corporate sponsors, academic institutions, government agencies and the people of the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar, which has given millions of dollars in hurricane recovery assistance. The center is just one example of the successes achieved in reviving a health care system decimated by Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed. Another is the Daughters of Charity Health Center-St. Cecilia, a community-based clinic serving New Orleans’ Ninth Ward and the Bywater neighborhood that has received $3 million from the United Health Foundation to become a model “center of excellence” for primary care in a community setting.

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After three-year halt, bingo games return to Arkansas parishes

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CNS) — Bingo returned to several Arkansas parishes in early August, but many more churches, schools and Knights of Columbus councils are pondering whether they want to offer the games again. On July 31 a new Arkansas law was enacted to allow charitable organizations to offer a limited number of bingo games each week and sell raffle tickets after getting a license from the state Department of Finance and Administration. Three years ago Bishop J. Peter Sartain of Little Rock instructed all parishes and schools to stop playing bingo because state law banned gambling except at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis. In November 2006 Arkansas voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution to allow bingo and raffles only for established charitable, religious and philanthropic organizations. The Arkansas General Assembly had to meet this spring to create the legislation before bingo and raffles were legal in the state. As of July 30, 20 Catholic churches and Knights of Columbus councils had been granted one-year state licenses.

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Subtle signs in Trenton point to connections to Guatemala’s highlands

TRENTON, N.J. (CNS) — If you’re not Guatemalan, the signs of Salcaja in Trenton might not be obvious. In a city of many immigrants, Salcaja Towing and auto repair shop on South Paul Avenue may seem to be just another business where the employees don’t speak much English. Bakery las Delicias on Beatty Street is referred to as a “Mexican” or “Spanish” bakery by neighbors of European or African heritage who stop in for a doughnut or a decorated birthday cake. A Web site directory says it’s French. And the non-Latinos of Trenton probably would never imagine just what it is that unites the hundreds of Guatemalans who gather for a soccer match, banquet and dance every Sept. 1. Yet perhaps a third of the New Jersey state capital’s growing Hispanic population comes from one small town, named Salcaja, in Guatemala’s western highlands. The Census Bureau estimates about 10,000 Guatemalans lived in New Jersey at the time of the 2000 census.

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Midwest no safe harbor from human trafficking

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CNS) — “Human trafficking is more prevalent in this region than most people know,” said Janel D’Agata Lynch, program manager for community services at Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph. “Local people were shocked when the news broke about the massage-parlor raids in Overland Park, Kan., and earlier this year, the central Missouri boy who was found, along with a second boy, in the St. Louis area,” said D’Agata Lynch. “Human trafficking is not always ‘someplace else.'” A June report by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, labeled the United States as “a source and destination” country for thousands of men, women and children trafficked annually for sexual and labor exploitation. Melissa Snow of Shared Hope International, a nonprofit organization founded in 1998 to serve sexually exploited women and children, told The Catholic Key, newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, that the Midwest has become a kind of pipeline for human trafficking. “The truck traffic on Interstate 35 may be carrying more than meets the eye,” she said. “I-35 bisects the country from Laredo, Texas, to Duluth, Minn., with access to highways leading east and west.

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Mexican civil, church workers distribute aid in Yucatan Peninsula

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Civil authorities and church workers began distributing emergency supplies and surveying damage the day after Hurricane Dean crossed the Yucatan Peninsula. Meanwhile, communities on the Gulf of Mexico were bracing for the storm’s second landfall Aug. 22. Father Francisco Velazquez Trejo, a director for Caritas Mexico in the state of Campeche on the western side of the Yucatan Peninsula, said the hurricane had flooded the island city of Ciudad del Carmen. Dean also caused widespread damage to the region’s agricultural fields and communities of indigenous Maya, many of whom live in impoverished conditions. “The region’s poorest inhabitants were the worst hit,” Father Velazquez said. The storm also leveled trees and power lines across a southern portion of the peninsula. As of early Aug. 22, no deaths or serious injuries had been reported as a result of the storm. Father Velazquez said his organization — the local affiliate of Caritas Internationalis, the international network of Catholic aid and development agencies — would provide emergency supplies to Ciudad del Carmen residents and was surveying the situation in other parts of his state.

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Church leaders criticize regional support for Zimbabwean president

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — Southern African leaders’ support for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is “sickening,” said a South African bishop, while a priest in Zimbabwe said the region’s governments are more interested in clinging to power than working for the common good. Mugabe, who has been in power since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980, was given a standing ovation at an Aug. 16-17 Southern African Development Community meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, where regional leaders failed to pressure him into enacting political and economic reforms. Applauding “a man who has destroyed a country” shows “utter lack of concern for the plight of Zimbabweans,” Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg told Catholic News Service Aug. 20 in a telephone interview. He noted that the southern African leaders’ refusal to sanction Mugabe shows a “dereliction of duty to their African sisters and brothers.” Bishop Dowling was in Johannesburg after meeting with fellow members of the Solidarity Peace Trust, an ecumenical group of church organizations from Zimbabwe and South Africa.

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Philippine parishes baptize thousands to mark cardinal’s birthday

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — Manila parishes baptized more than 5,000 children 6 years old or younger as part of a Special Day for the Poor set by the archdiocese to commemorate its cardinal’s birthday. Auxiliary Bishops Bernardino Cortez and Broderick Pabillo designated the special day to mark Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales’ 75th birthday Aug. 10. The original date of the baptisms was postponed to Aug. 21 due to two recent typhoons, Augustinian Father Asis Bajao told the Asian church news agency UCA News. The bishops also called on Manila’s 84 parishes to hold fellowship activities and special services for poor communities throughout August. Father Bajao and six archdiocesan priests spent most of their day pouring holy water on the heads of approximately 4,000 children at San Agustin Church in downtown Manila. Four other Manila priests baptized about 1,500 children at Manila’s metropolitan cathedral, just down the street from the Augustinian parish church.

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Monk says meditation could help China be a force to spread Gospel

HONG KONG (CNS) — The growing interest in contemplation in China could help to make the Catholic Church there a tremendous force to share the Gospel with the world, said a Benedictine monk who promotes Christian meditation. “The church is not European; maybe it is too Eurocentric,” said Benedictine Father Laurence Freeman, who directs the London-based World Community for Christian Meditation. He said if the church in China made use of contemplation — teaching it to laity as well as clergy and religious, “then the church there would be a tremendous force globally.” In an interview with Catholic News Service in Hong Kong Aug. 20, Father Freeman said the spirit of Christ in Asia could heal a dividing Western church. He said the Asian church, especially the church in China, would be a source of renewal for the church in the West. “When the church in China comes to be balance in action and contemplation, it would have a great influence” on the West, he said. The Benedictine monk visited mainland China Aug. 7-17, conducting retreats and seminars for religious, seminarians and clergy. He visited Hong Kong and Taiwan Aug. 17-22.

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Pope says to follow Christ, show charity, solidarity with suffering

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Charity and solidarity with the suffering are indispensable signs of truly following Christ, Pope Benedict XVI said. Citing the teaching of St. Gregory Nazianzen on charity at his Aug. 22 weekly general audience, the pope again appealed for international assistance for the victims of the Aug. 15 earthquake in Peru. “Once again I want to remember with great affection and spiritual closeness the beloved Peruvian people, so tried in these days, asking for gestures of Christian solidarity,” he said. The pope returned briefly to the Vatican from Castel Gandolfo for the weekly audience and continued a talk he began Aug. 8 about St. Gregory, the fourth-century doctor of the church. Pope Benedict told the estimated 8,000 people gathered in the Vatican audience hall, “Gregory reminds us that as human persons, we must be in solidarity with each other. He wrote, ‘We are all one in the Lord, rich and poor, slave and free, healthy and sick, and one alone is the head from which all derives — Jesus Christ.'”

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Korean nuns run trendy book cafe as way to introduce Catholicism

PUSAN, South Korea (CNS) — The Palma Book Cafe looks almost like another trendy bookstore, where young people read books over a cup of coffee or tea and talk in whispers. Almost — because it also has two prominent statues of Mary and nuns in gray habits helping people find books, serving beverages and operating the cash register. “Originally, the cafe was for Catholics to gather and share about their life while drinking coffee or tea. They would visit here after Mass or a devotional group meeting,” said Sister Augustine Lee Myoung-hi. “Now it has became another way for the church to approach those from other religions — with books, statues of Jesus or the Virgin Mary, and Catholic music,” Sister Augustine, a member of the Sisters of Palma of the Blessed Korean Martyrs, told the Asian church news agency UCA News. The cafe opened last year in front of the Namchon Cathedral in Pusan, nearly 200 miles southwest of Seoul, after the late Bishop Augustine Cheong Myong-jo of Pusan asked nuns working in his diocesan office to run a cafe where people could gather and spend time. Bishop Cheong died of lung cancer in June.

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Trafficking victim reunited with son to make new life in America

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) — Through the work of the Archdiocese of Newark’s Catholic Charities’ refugee resettlement and human trafficking programs, a former trafficking victim was reunited with her 9-year-old son July 26 at Newark Liberty International Airport after more than four years of forced separation. Inspired by this reunion, officials at Catholic Charities are hoping they will be able to report more happy endings soon. Two years ago Lucy Magambi had told her harrowing story to The Catholic Advocate, Newark’s archdiocesan newspaper, speaking under an alias. She came to America in 2003 from Kenya to work for a family in Bergen County as a housekeeper and nanny. She left her young son Brian behind with the hopes of making a new life for them in the United States. “They were going to pay me $200 a month. I thought I was going to be rich,” she recalled. However, Magambi was pressed to work tirelessly for little pay, forced into seclusion and physically assaulted. Two years ago, Catholic Charities arranged for her rescue.

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It’s story time for Merton the dog at California Catholic school

GLENDALE, Calif. (CNS) — Students who find themselves needing assistance in learning how to listen — and how to appreciate the value of reading — could take a lesson or two from Merton. Because when it comes to paying attention, few do it as well as Merton, a female black Labrador retriever who three times a week lends her ears and loving presence to the students at Incarnation School in Glendale. Not only has she brought joy to the children who read to her, Merton also has inspired many of these students to delve more deeply into the treasures of their school library. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays — accompanied by her “handler,” parish sacristan Mona Mitchell — an enthusiastic, tail-wagging Merton enters the school library for her listening sessions. The dog belongs to Incarnation’s pastor, Father Paul Hruby. Three preselected students from kindergarten through third grade excitedly await their individual turns with Merton in a library hall corner. There they read out loud to their beloved canine friend books they have chosen.

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Activists demand inquiry into Sri Lankan priest’s disappearance

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNS) — Civil rights activists and church groups in Sri Lanka have demanded an independent and impartial inquiry with international participation into last year’s disappearance of a Catholic priest and his companion in troubled Jaffna. The Christian Alliance for Social Action, an ecumenical lay group, and the Law & Society Trust, a nonprofit group for civil rights awareness, made their demand Aug. 21 in an open letter to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse. The letter came after a memorial meeting organized by the groups in Colombo Aug. 20, the first anniversary of the disappearance of Father Thiruchelvam Nihal Jim Brown of the Jaffna Diocese in the northern fringe of the Indian Ocean country. Attending the memorial were about 150 people, including Bishop Thomas Savundaranayagam of Jaffna as well as representatives of two dozen civil rights groups. Father Brown, a parish priest of St. Philip Neri Church in the Allaipiddy islet off the Jaffna peninsula, went missing Aug. 20, 2006, along with his lay helper, Wenceslaus Vincent Vimalan, when they went to inspect the church, which was damaged in shelling a week earlier.


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