This Weekend in the Diocese
Saturday — Blessing of Motorcycle Rally in memory of Cheyenne Fiveash, 8 a.m., San Angelo
Saturday — Dedication of Knights of Columbus Monument, Abilene
Junction — Mass to dedicate new church, St. Theresa, Junction, 11:15 a.m.
Today’s Headlines from Catholic News Service
Detroit Archdiocese helps Iraqi refugees build new lives in U.S.
DETROIT (CNS) — Escaping persecution in their home country, many Iraqi refugees are finding a new home in the metro Detroit area with the help of the Archdiocese of Detroit as well as other agencies. The refugees, many of them Chaldean Catholics, started arriving in the metro area earlier this summer, with the archdiocese helping to settle 11 people from six families in July, said Tu Ho, the archdiocesan refugee services coordinator. In August, the archdiocese helped to settle 110 people. In September, the archdiocese helped 100 more. The people who receive assistance through the archdiocese receive money for groceries, household items and hygiene kits, as well as a new mattress. The archdiocese has spent $10,000 on mattresses already, Ho said. For what the archdiocese cannot provide, the family is often referred to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. “We really need a lot of help from the people in the parishes,” Ho told The Michigan Catholic, Detroit’s archdiocesan newspaper.
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New seminarians ‘prayerful and eager to learn,’ says seminary rector
SEWARD, Neb. (CNS) — The 23 newcomers attending St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward this fall are “full of questions, obviously prayerful and eager to learn,” said Father John Folda, seminary rector. “They’re going to be a great group of seminarians, I have no doubt,” he added. Among them are 19 young men who are in priestly formation for the Diocese of Lincoln. The other four new men are studying for the priesthood for either the Diocese of Rockford, Ill., or the Diocese of Madison, Wis. One student studying for Lincoln is from the Canadian province of Manitoba. Father Folda said it is the largest group to enter St. Gregory the Great all at once, but everything has gone smoothly in terms of course scheduling, housing, books and all the other particulars. The first-year class of seminarians is one of the largest in any diocese in the United States. “God smiled upon us,” he said with a laugh. “He knew he was going to give us a lot of men this year.”
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Mass celebrated on Chicago streets where people were gunned down
CHICAGO (CNS) — Violence can happen anywhere. But when Israel Morales, a neighborhood organizer and parishioner at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish on Chicago’s Southwest Side, was gunned down this summer near the church, community members decided they had to do something. The first thing they did was have a Mass outside, near where Morales was killed. Since then, the parish has had three more street Masses, with another set for Sept. 27, all on blocks where violence has occurred. The first Masses drew 120 to 150 people; one in late August had more than 200 in the congregation. “There’s something in the ancient ritual of reconsecrating ground that has been violated in some way,” Father Stan Rataj, the pastor, told The Catholic New World, Chicago’s archdiocesan newspaper. “I think it makes a statement to the people.” Father Rataj and the associate pastor, Father Roger Diaz, take turns as the main celebrant of the bilingual Masses, although both are at all of them.
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Faith & Values Media buys Ecunet
NEW YORK (CNS) — Faith & Values Media, a consortium of Abrahamic faith groups — including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — has purchased Ecunet, a nonprofit online network of Christian organizations. No purchase price was disclosed. Faith & Values Media said in announcing the purchase in late August that the acquisition would strengthen Faith & Values’ FaithStreams Network, an online programming service at http://www.faithstreams.com. A smaller amount of Faith & Values programming is shown on cable’s Hallmark Channel. Faith & Values would in turn bolster Ecunet through its digital arm, Lightworks New Media, offering Web site publishing, podcasting, content distribution, forum discussion and streaming video options. Ecunet was begun in 1985 by the Rev. Houston Hodges, a Presbyterian minister with a new Macintosh computer and a modem. Members of Ecunet can join and participate in online discussions that cover a wide range of topics.
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Vatican: Pope’s refusal to meet Rice should not be seen as snub
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI declined to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during his August vacation, but Vatican officials said it should not be interpreted as a diplomatic snub. “The only reason she wasn’t received was that she came during a period when the pope doesn’t receive anyone. It was a purely technical question of protocol,” an informed Vatican source told Catholic News Service Sept. 20. The source said it was “absolutely not” the Vatican’s intention to rebuff Rice or signal disagreement with U.S. policy on the Middle East. Rice was about to travel to the Middle East for diplomatic talks in early August when the request for a papal meeting was made. The pope was vacationing at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, outside Rome. Even as it declined the request, the source said, the Vatican made it clear that top officials of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State would be happy to meet with Rice at any time. “So clearly there was no intent to send a negative signal,” the source said. Rice instead ended up speaking by telephone with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, while he was visiting the United States in August.
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Indian archbishop accepts only tree saplings as installation gifts
BHOPAL, India (CNS) — A newly installed archbishop in a central Indian state made an unusual demand of those wanting to congratulate him on his appointment. He said he welcomed gifts, but they had to be tree saplings. Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal told UCA News, an Asian church news agency, that he wanted to highlight the church’s concern for the environment amid rising pollution levels and increased news of environmental destruction around the globe. He said the more than 10,000 saplings he received would be planted in Christian institutions and other public places, where he feels sure they will be nurtured. Several Madhya Pradesh state officials said Archbishop Cornelio’s decision had a powerful symbolic meaning and environmental impact, as love for trees is part of Indian culture and mythology. The archbishop’s message was purely “an inspiration to live for others,” said Kunwar Vijay Shah, state minister for forest and tribal welfare, who attended a congratulatory function for the archbishop after his Sept. 16 installation ceremony.
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Pope urges Benin’s bishops to strengthen sense of Christian marriage
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI urged bishops in Benin to strengthen the sense of Christian marriage among Catholics. In Benin, where polygamy is common, pastors should help guide couples not only when they are preparing to wed but also throughout their married life, the pope said. He made the remarks in a meeting Sept. 20 with the bishops of Benin, who were making their “ad limina” visits, in which they travel to the Vatican every five years to report on the status of their dioceses. The African country has slightly more than 8 million people, about 23 percent Christian, 10 percent Muslim and 65 percent followers of indigenous beliefs. Bishop Antoine Ganye of Dassa-Zoume, president of the Benin bishops’ conference, told Vatican Radio that polygamy, officially banned by a 2004 law, was an unfortunate holdover from the country’s ancient traditions. The pope said overcoming obstacles to the proper understanding of marriage was one of several pastoral challenges in Benin.
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Polish bishop says 17th-century battle sparked Sept. 11 attacks
WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — The head of Poland’s military diocese has accused Islamic militants of seeking revenge for a Polish-led victory over the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century and urged Christians to prevent Europe being turned into “Euro-Arabia.” “The military defense against Islamic terrorism is being led today by the United States, which is playing a very similar role … to that (role) played centuries ago by Poland, when it was the rampart of Christianity,” said Bishop Tadeusz Ploski, head of Poland’s military diocese. “Today, alongside the American soldiers and those of several dozen states in the anti-terrorist coalition, there are also soldiers of the Polish army,” he said. Poland is among the 21 nations contributing to the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. Polish military forces also are deployed in Afghanistan. During a Mass homily in Warsaw Sept. 11, Bishop Ploski said the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States had been planned with “criminal precision” by Osama bin Laden to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Vienna, Austria, in September 1683, when an Ottoman Empire invasion force was defeated by Christian armies under King John Sobieski of Poland.
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Iraqi refugees feel they have good future in Detroit Archdiocese
STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (CNS) — Astefan Zrow Yousef was scared for his family. He was scared of the persecution they endured because of their Chaldean Catholic faith. He was scared they would be forced to abandon their faith. And he was scared they would be killed for trying to escape from their life in Iraq. For much the same reason, Issa Toma, his wife, Nano, and their families had already fled from Iraq to the safety of Turkey. Both men had a common goal — to live with their families in peace — and now they and their families have been resettled in the Detroit Archdiocese with the help of the archdiocese and other agencies. In June 2004, after his younger children had finished school for the year, Yousef and his family left their home near Baghdad, Iraq, for Turkey. “It was a very bad time,” he said through an interpreter at his new home in Sterling Heights. “We left everything behind. We had nothing. We had to flee to save our lives. We decided to flee before we got problems from anybody. It was very hard for us.”
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Israeli authorities deny Jordanian priest re-entry into West Bank
JERUSALEM (CNS) — A Jordanian Catholic priest who works at a West Bank parish was denied entry into Israel en route from Jordan to the Palestinian territories. Father Faris Khaleifat of Annunciation Church, a Melkite Catholic parish in Ramallah, was returning to his parish when Israeli authorities at the Al Sheik Hussein Bridge crossing canceled his multiple-entry visa without explanation Sept. 14. According to a statement released to the press Sept. 19 by the Campaign for the Right of Entry/Re-entry to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, a week earlier Father Khaleifat, who holds Jordanian and Vatican passports, had traveled to Jordan for several days and had returned without incident. “For the past six years, I have been traveling regularly between the West Bank and Jordan on church affairs without any problems whatsoever,” Father Khaleifat said in the statement. It said the priest was among the thousands of foreign passport holders who have been denied entry by Israeli authorities over the past several years.
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New critic joins staff of bishops’ Office for Film & Broadcasting
WASHINGTON (CNS) — There’s a new voice and a new perspective that has been added to the U.S. bishops’ Office for Film & Broadcasting in New York City. It belongs to John Mulderig, a staff critic who joined office director Harry Forbes in August. Mulderig succeeds David DiCerto, who left earlier in the year to join the Christophers as communications director and youth coordinator. Mulderig, who turns 45 Oct. 1, is a citizen of both the United States and Bermuda, where he was born. His father worked for a U.S. insurance company in Bermuda, although birth did not automatically confer Bermudian citizenship upon Mulderig. In 1995 he returned to Bermuda to apply for citizenship. While there, he taught for five years at Mount St. Agnes High School in Hamilton. “My childhood was basically divided between there and here,” Mulderig said in a Sept. 18 telephone interview with Catholic News Service from New York City. He majored in English literature at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y. Mulderig also worked for the Christophers for five years.