Today (09.04.07)

McCAMEY — Lauent Mvondo installed as parochial administrator, 6:30 p.m., Sacred Heart Church. Bishop Pfeifer to preside over Mass.

Today’s Readings

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11
Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14
Luke 4:31-37 

Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service


Religious leaders offer hope on second anniversary of hurricane

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — With an intense thunderstorm providing eerie sound effects, Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans told hundreds gathered at St. Louis Cathedral Aug. 29 in commemoration of the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to persevere in their faith despite the pitfalls of a painfully slow recovery. Explaining that “hurricane” is a West Indies word for “divine wind” and Katrina means “cleansing,” Archbishop Hughes told the congregation, which included Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, that believers have a responsibility to remain hopeful that God will deliver them from the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. “On the second anniversary of Katrina, can we pray that the divine wind of the Holy Spirit may cleanse us of what was not right in the old New Orleans, that we might know new life in a new New Orleans,” Archbishop Hughes said. The thunder and lightning from the storm grew so intense toward the end of the Mass that Archbishop Hughes said he was glad that “on this Aug. 29 God sent us a thunderstorm rather than a hurricane.”

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Families of trapped miners still have ‘glimmer of hope,’ priest says

HUNTINGTON, Utah (CNS) — The families of six miners trapped Aug. 6 in the Crandall Canyon Mine outside Huntington are hoping a high-tech robot camera and a seventh bore hole being cut in the area of the mine’s “kitchen,” will yield clues to the trapped miners’ whereabouts and whether they are still alive. “The families are holding out a little glimmer of hope the trapped miners are still alive,” said Father Donald E. Hope, pastor of Mission San Rafael in Huntington and other parishes in the area, in an interview with the Intermountain Catholic, Salt Lake City diocesan newspaper. “If they learn the miners have died, there is still hope their bodies can be recovered somehow,” he added. The first massive mine collapse Aug. 6 trapped Kerry Allred, Don Erickson, Luis Hernandez, Juan Carlos Payan, Brandon Phillips and Manuel “Manny” Sanchez. A second collapse Aug. 16 killed rescue miners Dale Ray Black, Grandon Kimber and Gary Jensen and injured six others.

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Today’s school checklists reflect modern times, potential troubles

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Long gone are the days when school officials had to simply run an inventory of desks, school supplies and audiovisual equipment before the start of the school year. Today’s back-to-school checklists are far more complex in order to ensure that faculty and staff members are ready to face any kind of potential disaster from a weather-related event, a medical emergency or an act of violence. At the very least, school officials need to have certain items on hand: updated first-aid kits, emergency supplies, evacuation plans, emergency contact information, student and staff rosters, portable communication devices, such as walkie-talkies or cell phones, and, if possible, an emergency weather radio. They also need to consider worst-case scenarios and be prepared for their response. “The more prepared we are, the less chance we’ll be vulnerable,” said Michael Caruso, assistant superintendent for secondary schools and government relations in the Washington Archdiocese, during an Aug. 24 emergency-preparedness seminar for principals.

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Peruvian earthquake destroyed churches, other cultural sites

LIMA, Peru (CNS) — Three churches on Peru’s list of cultural heritage sites were declared a total loss and more were badly damaged after the huge earthquake that struck the country’s southern coast, said the director of the National Institute of Culture. Eight others were seriously damaged, eight suffered moderate damage and one was slightly harmed in the magnitude 8 quake that struck Peru Aug. 15, said Cecilia Bakula Budge, the director. In Pisco, the city nearest the epicenter, San Clemente Church, on the main plaza, and the colonial Jesuit church were virtually leveled by the quake, as was an adobe chapel on the Panamerican Highway where a Franciscan friar, Father Jose Ramon Rojas, is said to have brought fresh water forth from the desert. In all, more than 25 churches in the Ica Diocese were seriously damaged, Bishop Guido Lopez Brena of Ica told Catholic News Service. The diocese has been arranging for engineers and architects to evaluate the buildings in the towns of Pisco, Ica and Chincha.

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Catholic Church in China gears up to provide services for Olympics

BEIJING (CNS) — The Catholic Church in Beijing and several other Chinese cities hosting the 29th Olympic Games has been gearing up to provide religious services for athletes and visitors. Most events for the first Olympic Games to be held in China, scheduled for Aug. 8-24, 2008, will take place in Beijing, but Hong Kong, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shenyang and Tianjin also will host events. Father Chen Tianhao, parish priest at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Qingdao, which will host the sailing competition, told the Asian church news agency UCA News in a recent interview that his diocese has set up a team to provide religious services during the games. Father Chen said the cathedral will include English Masses, and the Diocese of Qingdao may send priests to the competition venue to celebrate Mass if they are needed. To help its choirs sing hymns in English, the diocese has invited foreign musicians to train them, the priest added.

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Unnatural disasters: Human choices lead to inequity in Latin America

ICA, Peru (CNS) — The cracks in the walls of Eliseo Cardenas Carhuapuma’s adobe house are so deep that he is afraid for his son to play inside. The family has moved its scant possessions outdoors, rigging up a straw mat to shield them from the damp morning air. Like many people whose homes were damaged or destroyed in the earthquake that struck Peru Aug. 15, Cardenas and his wife, Nancy Cabrera Hernandez, had little to start with. Now they must rebuild. Earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts and floods leave searing images of desperate people who have lost what little they had. They also raise a question: Why do the poor suffer most from natural disasters? The answer may seem obvious. When the house, crops and livestock are swept away, a poor family loses its savings and sole means of livelihood. But the problem goes deeper. In fact, experts say, the question is wrong. “The disasters are not natural,” said Guido Eguigure, who heads the Honduras office of Action by Churches Together, an interdenominational humanitarian aid organization. “The phenomenon may be natural, but the disaster is the result of human action.” Examples include bridges or dams that are built without taking into consideration water flow when precipitation is unseasonably high, or a road built at the foot of a hillside that has been stripped of trees, where the next heavy rain may trigger a landslide.

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Mariazell lacks dazzle, but its simplicity helps its fame in Austria

ROME (CNS) — The sanctuary at Mariazell may lack the dazzle of more famous Marian shrines, but its simplicity has helped make it Austria’s most popular pilgrimage site. “Mariazell is not a ‘spectacular’ sanctuary. There are no apparitions or miracles that fill the pages of newspapers,” said Benedictine Father Karl Schauer, superior of the sanctuary. “There is no particular form of religiosity here, and no particular group has taken over this place for itself,” he told the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. Perhaps because Mariazell is “so normal,” as Father Schauer put it, the place attracts about 1 million pilgrims each year. They make their way to a mountain valley that is off the beaten track, far from major transportation centers. Among past pilgrims was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who last visited Mariazell in 2004, a few months before his election as Pope Benedict XVI. He is coming back Sept. 8 to help mark the sanctuary’s 850th anniversary.

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Pilgrim globe-trotters: Modern jet-setters or old-fashioned trekkers?

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The sky was no longer the limit when a Rome travel agency started offering specially chartered flights exclusively for globe-trotting pilgrims. Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, run by the Diocese of Rome, had long been offering special package tours for religious destinations worldwide. Each year some 300,000 pilgrims book their religious journey by plane, train and bus through the agency. Recently, Opera Romana signed a five-year contract with Mistral Air, a small Italian airline run by the Italian postal service, to run charter flights exclusively for pilgrims. After a successful inaugural flight from Rome to Lourdes Aug. 27, Mistral Air’s next pilgrim flights were set to start next year and were expected to transport an estimated 150,000 people each year. Despite the conveniences of air travel, greater numbers of modern-day pilgrims are traveling the old-fashioned way with a backpack, plenty of water and a sturdy pair of shoes. One of the most ancient and most popular paths for the foot pilgrim is to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. More than 100,000 people walk, bike or ride atop donkeys or horses every year to visit the cathedral there. A once little-known pilgrim path from Canterbury, England, to Rome — the Francigena Way — is also gaining in popularity.

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Philippine Catholics express concern over arrest of communist leader

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — Philippine church leaders have expressed concern that the recent arrest of a communist leader could hamper efforts to revive peace negotiations between the government and communists. The Aug. 27 arrest of Jose Maria Sison on murder charges by Dutch police in his home in Utrecht, Netherlands, could affect peace talks, Bishop Deogracias Iniguez of Kalookan told the Asian church news agency UCA News. Bishop Iniguez, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ public affairs committee, added that there is dissent among leftists and a clamor to “look into the validity of the arrest.” Last year, widows Gloria Kintanar and Veronica Tabara filed murder charges against Sison with the Philippine Department of Justice and in the Netherlands. They accused Sison of masterminding the killing of their husbands, Romulo Kintanar in 2003 and Arturo Tabara the following year. Sison led a revival of the Communist Party in the Philippines in 1968. The party formed the New People’s Army in 1969 to pursue a Maoist rebellion aimed at establishing a socialist state. Sison currently serves as chief political consultant of the Communist Party’s political wing, the National Democratic Front. He has lived in the Netherlands for about 20 years.

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Fired Catholic schoolteacher drops suit against school

APPLETON, Wis. (CNS) — A Catholic schoolteacher who claimed she was illegally fired in 2004 for undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments dropped her discrimination suit Aug. 27 following a settlement in which the terms were not disclosed. Kelly Romenesko, who taught French at St. Joseph Middle School and Xavier High School in Appleton, was fired in October 2004 after school officials found out she had become pregnant through in vitro fertilization — a fertility treatment that is against church teaching. She was told the treatment violated her teaching contract which stipulates that teachers must uphold Catholic teaching. Romenesko, who gave birth to twin girls in March 2005, filed a complaint in July of that year with the equal rights division of the state Department of Workforce Development, alleging discrimination by the Appleton Catholic Educational System/Xavier, a consolidation of Catholic schools in Appleton. In a hearing the following year school officials denied discrimination, but earlier this year a judge said there was probable cause that the school system discriminated against her.

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Taking stock of healing on anniversary of Sept. 11 attacks

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) — Six years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that left 3,000 people dead when four planes were taken over and crashed, Donna Pfluger-Murray and her mother, Carol Lee Murray, use the anniversary of the date to take stock of healing. Pfluger-Murray, who was working at Aon Risk Services that day in the south tower of the World Trade Center, escaped minutes before the building collapsed, losing 175 co-workers among those who didn’t make it after a hijacked jet was crashed into the tower. Another jet took down the north tower and other hijacked planes were crashed into a Pennsylvania farm field and the Pentagon near Washington. “It was surreal,” Pfluger-Murray said, describing her experience at the center of the Sept. 11 maelstrom. She acknowledges some feelings of survivor’s guilt. “I went to a lot of the funerals and memorials,” she said. “There were questions like: ‘Why did you live and not my husband or wife?’ My answer is: ‘I don’t know. I don’t have an answer. Why did I do what I did that morning? What made me leave the building?'”

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New book pays tribute to Franciscan who said ‘yes’ to God

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Kelly Ann Lynch recalls her friend, Franciscan Father Mychal F. Judge, as someone who always said “yes” to helping those in need. That’s why Lynch named her new children’s book “He Said Yes: The Story of Father Mychal Judge.” “He said ‘yes’ to so many things,” said Lynch of the New York City fire chaplain who died ministering to victims in the rubble of the World Trade Center’s twin towers Sept. 11, 2001. “He was an amazing man.” His story and life of service to others was the inspiration behind Lynch’s first book, which hits store shelves in early September. The idea to write a children’s book based on Father Judge’s life came to her during Mass in late 2002 near her hometown of Lancaster, Pa. She was still grieving the loss of a man she’d known all her life. “I remember thinking Father Mychal’s story was too important not to be told or shared,” she said.


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