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Information on Fr. Kenneth Hendricks from the diocese of Naval, Philippines

12/06/2018 - 3:53pm

December 6, 2018; Cincinnati, OH

Fr. Kenneth Hendricks, who was arrested in the city of Naval in the Philippines on Dec. 5, 2018 is not, nor has ever been, a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. To the best of our knowledge, he was ordained to the priesthood in the Philippines to serve in the diocese of Naval. He has never had any assignment with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Although not a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Fr. Hendricks is listed on our website as a Catholic missionary serving in Asia. He is one of around 75 missionaries from Southwest Ohio who receive some financial support from the Mission Office of the Archdiocese. None of these individuals work for, or take direction from, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

The abuse of children or any vulnerable person is abhorrent and needs to be prosecuted. We are cooperating fully with the Department of Justice and Homeland Security regarding this matter, and urge anyone with any information about Fr. Hendricks to call the phone number provided this morning by Homeland Security, 513-246-1461.

We are also working diligently to make the faithful aware of Fr. Hendrick’s arrest and learn of any potential interaction he may have had with anyone locally. We will be posting all of this information on our website and social media platforms.



A life built on trust in God is built on solid ground, pope says

12/06/2018 - 3:09pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians are not people of faith in name only, Pope Francis said; they trust in God, base their lives on his truth and seek to act on the teachings of Jesus.

People with faith in God have not put their hope only in words or in "vanity, pride, in the fleeting powers of life," he said. They put their hopes on solid ground — the Lord, he said in his homily Dec. 6 during morning Mass at his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading in which Jesus tells his disciples that those who act on his teachings will have built their house on solid rock, while those who only listen to his word and do not act will be fools with a vulnerable house built on sand.

The pope said the Advent season is a time for people to ask themselves, "Am I Christian in words or in deeds? Do I build my life on the rock of God or on the sand of the world, of vanity? Am I humble? Do I seek to always lower myself, without pride, and, in that way, serve the Lord?"

Being Christian in name or words only, he said, is a superficial form of belief, like putting on makeup to look the part. It is going only "halfway — I say I am Christian, but I don’t do what Christians do."

"What Jesus proposes is concreteness, always concrete," like the works of mercy, he said.

The consequence of only trying to look Christian by words alone and without concrete action is having a life lacking in any solid foundation, Pope Francis said.

The Lord provides the strength, he said. "Many times, those who trust in the Lord do not stand out, they are not successful, they are hidden. But they are solid."

"The concreteness of Christian life makes us go forward and build on that rock that is God, that is Jesus," not on "appearances or on vanity, pride, connections. No. The truth."


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Pope to make historic visit to United Arab Emirates in February

12/06/2018 - 2:08pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Holy See Press Office

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will visit the United Arab Emirates next year, becoming the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula, the Vatican announced.

In a Dec. 6 statement, the Vatican said the pope will "participate in the International Interfaith Meeting on ‘Human Fraternity’" after receiving an invitation by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

"The visit will take place also in response to the invitation of the Catholic Church in the United Arab Emirates," the Vatican said.

The trip Feb. 3-5 will take place less than a week after Pope Francis returns from his Jan. 23-28 visit to Panama for World Youth Day.

Shortly after the announcement, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, welcomed the announcement of the pope’s visit in a post on his personal Facebook page.

The visit, he said "will strengthen our ties and understanding of each other, enhance interfaith dialogue and help us to work together to maintain and build peace among the nations of the world."

In a message published on the visit’s official website, Swiss Bishop Paul Hinder, apostolic vicar of Southern Arabia, expressed his hope that the pope’s "short visit will be a moment of deepening our faith and our adherence to the bishop of Rome."

Although a detailed program of the pope’s schedule "will be published before Christmas," Bishop Hinder confirmed that Pope Francis will celebrate a public Mass in Abu Dhabi Feb. 5 and that arrangements are being made to allow as many faithful as possible "to participate in this historic event."

"Let us keep in mind that it will be the first visit of a pope to the Arabian Peninsula," the bishop said.

The Vatican also released the logo and the theme of the papal visit, "Make me a channel of your peace," which is inspired by St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer for peace.

The theme, the Vatican statement said, "expresses our own prayer that the visit of Pope Francis to the United Arab Emirates may spread in a special way the peace of God within the hearts of all people of goodwill."

Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, said the theme was also a fitting description of the purpose of the pope’s visit which will focus on "how all people of goodwill can work for peace."

"This visit, like the one to Egypt, shows the fundamental importance the Holy Father gives to interreligious dialogue," Burke said. "Pope Francis visiting the Arab world is a perfect example of the culture of encounter."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju


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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

A picture says a thousand words: Maria Stein Shrine St. Nicholas Coloring Contest

12/06/2018 - 1:15pm

Maria Stein Shrine announced that they received nearly 400 entries in their coloring contest! Last year they received 161. The winners are listed below. They gave out two prizes per age due to the overwhelming response received (a children’s nativity set).

Every coloring page we received is currently on display at the Shrine. They hope the children are able to stop by and find theirs!

5 years: Parker King & Jetson Thomas
6 years: Ashlyn Chalk & Cameron Bodart
7 years: Kamryn Schroeder & Tyler Homan
8 years: Elizabeth Grieshop & Jackson Hoenie
9 years: Lilly Walke & Will Rethman
10 years: Elli Stammen & Caleb Westerheidi
11 years: Payton DeMange & Avery Stachler
12 years: Andrew Wuebker & Kelly Thompson

Woman who once assisted with abortions to address March for Life Jan. 18

12/05/2018 - 5:26pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jose Luis Aguirre, Catholic San Francisco

By Dennis Sadowski

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Abby Johnson, who early in her career assisted in carrying out abortions, will be among the speakers during the 2019 March for Life rally Jan. 18 on the National Mall in Washington.

Johnson, a one-time Planned Parenthood clinic director, is the founder of And Then There Were None, a ministry that assists abortion clinic workers who have left their position.

"Unique From Day One: Pro-Life Is Pro-Science" is the theme of the 2019 march, Jeanne Mancini, March for Life president, said during a media briefing Dec. 5 in Washington.

Mancini said this year’s events will focus on the scientific discoveries that have led to new understanding about life in the womb.

"Science and technology are on the side of life in large because they show the humanity of the child at a very young age," Mancini told Catholic News Service after the briefing.

"We can hear and see a baby’s heartbeat now at six weeks. There are blood tests to know a baby’s gender at seven weeks. Now that’s changed enormously over the course of the last few years," she said.

The annual march for Life events mark the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, that legalized abortion.

The 2019 march follows encouraging news for the pro-life movement that abortions overall as well as the country’s abortion rate continued to decline in 2015, according to data compiled by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC determined that the abortion rate in 2015 — the last year for which statistics are available — is at 11.8 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44. The rate has dropped eight of the past nine years since 2006’s rate of 15.9; the rate of 15.6 held steady in 2008.

The overall number of abortions also continued to slide. The 2015 number of reported abortions was 638,169, about one-fourth less than the 852,385 reported in 2006. It is down 2 percent from 2014’s figure of 652,639.

The number of legal abortions in the United States peaked in the 1980s before beginning a slow but steady decline, interrupted only by the slight rise in, or holding steady of, numbers in the late 2000s.

Two days of events open with the annual March for Life conference and expo Jan. 17. A panel discussion during the conference will include Dr. Grazie Christie, a policy adviser for the Catholic Association; Dr. David Prentice, vice president and research director of the Charlotte Lozier Institute; Rick Smith, founder of Hope Story, a nonprofit organization that helps families with a Down Syndrome child; and Christine Accurso, executive director of Pro Women’s Healthcare Centers.

In addition, popular commentator Ben Shapiro planned to bring his podcast to the march for live recording at 10 a.m. (EST) Jan. 18.

The main event, the March for Life Rally, is set for noon at 12th Street NW on the National Mall between Madison Drive and Jefferson Drive. Afterward, participants will gather for the official march on Constitution Avenue between 12th and 14th streets and make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The annual Rose Dinner closes the observance the evening after the march.

Details of events are online at

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski


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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Prayer is a constant learning experience, pope says

12/05/2018 - 2:06pm

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Jesus’ way of praying to his father throughout his life is a reminder for Christians that prayer is more than asking God for something but is a way of establishing an intimate relationship with him, Pope Francis said.

Prayer is a longing within one’s soul that is "perhaps one of the most profound mysteries of the universe," the pope said Dec. 5 during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI audience hall.

"Even if we have perhaps been praying for so many years, we must always learn!" he said.

Beginning a new series of audience talks on the "Our Father," the pope reflected on the disciples’ request to Jesus to teach them how to pray.

The Gospels, he said, offer "very vivid portraits of Jesus as a man of prayer" who, despite the urgency of his public ministry, often felt the need to withdraw into solitude and pray.

"In some pages of Scripture, it seems that it is first Jesus’ prayer, his intimacy with the Father, that governs everything," the pope said.

This intimacy, he added, is evident in Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane where he experienced "real agony," yet was given the strength to continue along "the way toward the cross" where even in his final moments, he prayed the Psalms.

"Jesus prayed intensely in public moments, sharing the liturgy of his people, but he also looked for select places, separated from the whirlwind of the world, places that allowed him to descend into the secret of his soul," the pope said.

Pope Francis said that in teaching his disciples to pray, Jesus shows that he is not "possessive of his intimacy with the father" but rather came into the world "to introduce us into this intimacy."

However, he said, the first step in establishing this relationship with God through prayer is humility.

"The first step to pray is to be humble, to go to the father, to go to Our Lady and say, ‘Look at me, I’m a sinner, I am weak, I am bad,’" the pope said. "Everyone knows what to say but it always begins with humility. The Lord listens; a humble prayer is always listened to by the Lord."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Pope expresses condolences for death of former President Bush

12/05/2018 - 11:18am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Yuri Gripas, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis expressed his condolences for the death of the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, sent a telegram to the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, telling him the pope was “saddened to learn of the death” of the former president.

“Pope Francis offers heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his prayers to all the Bush family,” he said in the telegram published by the Vatican Dec. 5.

“Commending President Bush’s soul to the merciful love of almighty God, His Holiness invokes upon all who mourn his passing the divine blessings of strength and peace,” Cardinal Parolin wrote.

Bush died Nov. 30, at the age of 94 at his home in Houston. He was to be honored with a state funeral in Washington Dec. 5.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Father Angelo Caserta turns 100 today

12/05/2018 - 9:21am
Father Angelo Caserta. (Courtesy Photo)

Father Angelo Caserta celebrates his 100th birthday today. Father Angelo was born in Piqua Ohio and attended Saint Boniface school. He was ordained on February 24, 1945.

Here’s a reprint of Walt Schaefer’s Article from April 2015:

Father Angelo Caserta, at 96 the oldest active priest in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, called his priesthood a blessing from God.

Prior to celebrating his 70th anniversary Mass March 1 at St. Boniface Church in his home town of Piqua, Father Caserta said, “The Lord has taught me the great love that Christ and the Eternal Father have for people … to allow a priest to be the instrument of God’s love to His people and make Him alive in them and … experience that God is loving them. I have seen that so many times, in fact all of the time.”

Father Caserta was ordained Feb. 24, 1945, by then-Archbishop John Timothy McNicholas. He remembers the day well: “The temperature on that Saturday was a high in the 70s – in February. It was sunny and pleasant. When I was growing up, spring started in the middle of February,” he said.

Is there a secret to his longevity?

“My secret is the good Lord,” he said. “The Lord gets all the credit. I’m the only classmate surviving in my class. Not many average that milestone. There may have been some of the old-timers who did. You know, it’s a celebration of God’s goodness. How He could choose someone like me and take care of me for 70 years while doing His work in the priesthood.”
During his priesthood, Father Caserta served only two parishes, spending most of his years at St. Gregory Seminary, former college seminary of the archdiocese, which closed in 1980; and at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.

“I was born in Piqua and pastor at St. Boniface. I was pastor of St. Lawrence in Price Hill … from June 9, 1970, through August 7, 1984,” he said. “I spent a lot of time at the seminaries. I was at St. Gregory where I was secretary to the rector and then vice rector to the rector. And, I was at Mount St. Mary’s as well. In 1967, I was assigned to the business manager job.”
He has returned to St. Boniface, where today, “I’m on call … to assist at St. Boniface and at St. Mary parishes. I actually say two Masses on the weekend and then during the week as well I say Masses. I assist at funerals and special celebration of the parishes. I still hear confessions once or twice a week.”

Father Caserta reflects with fondness his life of service.

“In the priesthood one of the greatest gifts is that you meet so many wonderful people. I have met so many wonderful people. It is by the grace of God that I’m a priest. I have had so many wonderful blessings. Everything is still in my mind. I remember practically everything,” he said.

You’re welcome to send a card or note to him at Father Angelo Caserta, PO Box 4008, Sidney OH 45365. Please, no home visits.

Women religious open Christmas season with German Catholic tradition

12/04/2018 - 4:00pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Katie Rutter

By Katie Rutter

FERDINAND, Ind. (CNS) — The sights and sounds of Christmas brightened the massive dome of the Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand as six Sisters of St. Benedict rang out "Silent Night" on hand bells.

The gentle chimes of the season soothed the hundreds of people who gathered at the foot of the Ferdinand monastery during the cold Nov. 16 night, while the German tradition launched the Christmas season in the Indiana hamlet.

The Benedictines were heralding the opening of the town’s Christkindlmarkt, a weekend of vendors, concerts and Christmas cheer. The sisters have bolstered Ferdinand’s tradition since the festivities began two decades ago.

"It’s a town celebration and the sisters are very much an integral part of the town of Ferdinand," said Sister Rose Wildeman, the monastery coordinator and director of the hand-bell choir.

About 10,000 people — more than four times the number of Ferdinand residents — amassed into the small town for its Christkindlmarkt held Nov. 16-18.

The monastery — its arched windows, turrets and towers seeming to come straight out of medieval Europe — provided an appropriate backdrop for the weekend.

Ferdinand city officials founded Christkindlmarkt with the intent of transporting attendees to Old World Germany. The event mimics a celebration by the same name held in Nuremberg, Germany, since the 16th century.

"Ferdinand has so many German characteristics about it. It looks like little Bavaria as you come in over the hills," said Diane Hoppenjans, the executive director of Ferdinand Tourism and founder of the celebration.

"You see the church steeple in the center of the town and the village is kind of gathered around it and this huge beautiful monastery," Hoppenjans told Catholic News Service.

The German Catholic community was founded in 1840 by Father Joseph Kundek, a missionary priest from Croatia. The Benedictines, their founding community rooted in Eichstatt, Germany, arrived to teach the local children in 1867.

"I can’t imagine Ferdinand without (the monastery) and without the nuns’ influence," Hoppenjans said.

"I think it’s because of the monastery that we were able to grow the way we did, the way the town did, and that also kind of kept us with that German tradition," she said.

For Christkindlmarkt, the sisters supplied their event hall as one of six locations where vendors set up booths filled with crafts and other items. The nuns also offered tours of their monastery and sold baked goods, including German-inspired desserts like "kuchen," which is a cinnamon or cranberry-topped cake, and springerle and almerle cookies.

"The springerle cookie is a traditional German cookie, it has a licorice flavor. We have molds that some of our sisters brought back in the 1920s," said Sister Jean Marie Ballard, the quality assurance manager for the religious order’s bakery.

The evening of Nov. 16 — the Friday before the events officially began — the monastery also served as the focal point for Christkindlmarkt Eve. The highlight of the night, accented by the sisters’ hand bells and local choirs, is the moment that "Christkindl" emerged from the monastery’s doors.

Plainly translated "Christ Child" and, at one time, an imaginative portrayal of the Baby Jesus, the modern Christkindl is an angel who many European families still believe is the deliverer of gifts at Christmas.

Ferdinand’s Christkindl is a close replica of the angel that opens the Nuremberg celebration. Dressed in a white, gold-trimmed gown and portrayed by Ferdinand native Hillary Cremeens, the Christkindl emerged from the monastery to the sound of trumpets and sang a welcoming message.

"Ye men and women folk, who once were children too, be child again today, and do rejoice when the Christ Child invites you all to see this market," she sang, reciting a translated version of Nuremberg’s Christkindl message.

Following the angel’s welcome, the crowds were invited into the monastery for a German dinner and to visit the sisters’ table full of baked goods.

"The sisters are part of our community. They share in a lot of things, they’re involved with the Chamber of Commerce, they’re involved with this Christkindlmarkt event, they open their home and their hearts to everyone," said Kathy Tretter, a native and member of the committee that organizes Christkindlmarkt.

"This is their home, and their home is Ferdinand," she said.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Cardinal tells COP24 climate needs present ‘challenge of civilization’

12/04/2018 - 3:06pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Kacper Pempel, Reuters

By Jonathan Luxmoore

The Vatican challenged countries gathered for the 24th U.N. Climate Change Conference to focus on the needs of the present and the future as it worked to take swift action.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, addressed the conference, COP24, in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 3 and told participants, "We are standing before a challenge of civilization for the benefit of the common good."

"The Katowice meeting has the fundamental task of developing the Paris Agreement Work Program. This document should be a solid set of guidelines, rules and institutional mechanisms, aimed at facilitating a fair and efficient implementation of the agreement, particularly at the national level," the cardinal said, adding, "We are all aware how difficult this endeavor is."

"We know what we can do, and what we have to do becomes an ethical imperative," he told conference participants.

The cardinal said COP24’s guidelines should have "a clear ethical foundation," including "advancing the dignity of the human person, alleviating poverty and promoting integral human development," with "transparent, efficient and dynamic" measures.

"It is still possible to limit global warming, but to do so will require a clear, forward-looking and strong political will to promote as quickly as possible the process of transitioning to a model of development that is free from those technologies and behaviors that influence the over-production of greenhouse gas emissions," Cardinal Parolin said.

Speaking at a Dec. 3 news conference, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said commitment to combat climate change was "felt in all religions," and he praised the "very positive position" of Pope Francis on the issue.

"If one is a believer and one believes the world is created by God, it must be terrible to see human beings destroying God’s creation," Guterres added. "So, I think it’s perfectly normal that a religion that believes in the work of the Creator is totally against the destruction of the work of the Creator by human beings."

Josianne Gauthier, secretary-general of the Brussels-based CIDSE, a network of Catholic development agencies in Europe and North America, said Cardinal Parolin’s statement had "set the tone" by echoing the hopes of Catholic groups.

"Our main concern is that ambitions shouldn’t now slow down or reverse, so we on the ground will be very much behind the Holy See delegation," she told Catholic News Service. "Church representatives are meeting people constantly, lobbying decision-makers, and encouraging governments and states to have the courage of their convictions and push the agenda forward."

"After this very positive beginning, we now need everyone to step up with the kind of commitments public opinion is demanding and vulnerable countries (are) urgently needing, helped by the church’s moral leadership," said Gauthier, a Canadian Catholic.

She said CIDSE had joined other faith-based organizations in a Dec. 2 interreligious forum at Katowice’s St. Stephen Church to coordinate a "generate input" to the conference, which runs until Dec. 14 and is expected to agree on implementation guidelines for a 1.5-degree Celsius limit on temperature increase, adopted under the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Churches and religious groups are to stage a Dec. 8 climate march and joint "day of reflection, celebration and commitment renewal" Dec. 9 in Katowice’s Catholic cathedral, organized by the Katowice Archdiocese, CIDSE, Caritas Internationalis, Franciscans International and the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

"It’s important now to keep public opinion mobilized through external events, so those involved show courage, feel supported in their work and interact with civil society, rather than taking policy decisions in a bubble," Gauthier told CNS Dec. 4.

At least 20,000 people from more than 190 countries are attending COP24, including government representatives, academics, business leaders and climate activists from around the world.

The Catholic Church in Poland, which has been criticized in news reports for relying for 80 percent of its energy on coal, circulated a special prayer for COP24 to all parishes and appealed to Catholics to offer spiritual support to climate change campaigners.


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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

At Advent, make peace, not war, pope says at morning Mass

12/04/2018 - 2:33pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Vatican Media

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Advent season is a time of preparation for the coming of the prince of peace and not a time of making war with those around you, Pope Francis said.

As Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, they must also reflect on what they do in their daily lives to become "artisans of peace," the pope said in his homily Dec. 4 during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

"What do I do to help peace in the world?" he asked. "Do I always make some excuse to go to war, to hate, to talk about others? That’s warfare! Am I meek? Do I try to build bridges?"

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day’s reading from the prophet Isaiah in which he prophesies a time of peace after the coming of the Messiah.

"Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them," Isaiah writes.

Pope Francis said that while this vision of appears with a certain "rustic charm," the beautiful imagery encapsulates the power of Christ to bring about a peace that is capable of changing lives.

"Many times, we are not at peace, but rather anxious, without hope," he said. "We are used to looking at other people’s souls, but you must look at your own soul."

Christians must also seek to build peace within the family because "there is so much sadness in families, many struggles, many small wars, so much disunity at times" and in the world.

"May the Lord prepare our hearts for the Christmas of the prince of peace" by preparing everyone to do their part: "to pacify my heart, my soul, pacify my family, school, neighborhood and workplace" and to become "men and women of peace," the pope said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Ethicist: Gene-editing human embryos ‘a train wreck of a thing to do’

12/03/2018 - 7:37pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The revelation in late November that a Chinese researcher had edited genes in human embryos and then implanted them in a woman was "a train wreck of a thing to do," said an ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.

"Normally clinical research proceeds in phases. First, you verify it works in animals, etc. Second, you verify that it’s safe. In small things you verify it’s effective," said John Brehany, the center’s director of institutional relations. "He skipped all that stuff."

"He says, ‘I practiced in animals and human embryos.’ Even the Chinese officials are saying he violated their standards," Brehany told Catholic News Service in a Nov. 30 telephone interview from Philadelphia. "He said he didn’t want to be first, he wanted to set an example, but he’s toying with human health. He said he practiced on human embryos, so that means he probably destroyed them. He practiced in the context of experimentation."

Brehany was referring to He (pronounced "hay") Jiankui, who first revealed his efforts Nov. 26 during an international gene-editing conference in Hong Kong. He learned the gene-editing technique known as CRISPR while doing advanced research at Rice University in Texas. His partner from Rice may face sanctions from the U.S.-based National Institutes of Health depending on the depth of his involvement in the scheme.

"CRISPR" stands for "clusters of regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats." This is a specialized region of DNA having two distinct characteristics: the presence of nucleotide repeats and spacers.

Newsweek reported Dec. 3 that He has not been seen since participating at the International Summit on Human Genome Editing and may be under house arrest by Chinese authorities.

"The couples were offered free fertility treatment if they participated in this, and that’s an unethical inducement," Brehany told CNS. "They might have been told it was a vaccine for AIDS," as the babies’ father was HIV-positive, he added; He had said he sought to remove the gene that triggers HIV infection. "In other words, there are multiple, multiple ways this was a hash. It really was a hash."

Gene editing is nothing new, Brehany said. "There’s a lot of gene editing that goes on in agriculture and in animals and there have bene some experiments and attempts that have gone on in humans, very carefully done, that have gone on since the 1990s," he added. "A lot of this has not been successful, in part because the human immune system tends to think that new genes that are introduced are foreign bodies."

Tomatoes and animals are one thing. Humans, though, are another.

"There have been a number of attempts at gene editing for things like cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, a number of conditions that shorten people’s life," Brehany said. "When you are introducing changes into somebody’s body, they don’t go any further. Either they don’t go any further, or they die.

"If you introduce changes into a woman’s eggs, or a man’s sperm, or a human embryo within a very short period after conception, then those genes not only introduce genes into cells but into future generations, and that is both an opportunity in some respects, but it’s also controversial for a couple of reasons. He set out to do just that. And again … in a couple of countries they’ve approved this for a few things," Brehany said.

One country where some human gene editing is legal is the United Kingdom. It is illegal in the United States, and after the furor erupted at the Hong Kong conference, China said what He had done was illegal in China.

The Catholic Church’s position is spelled out in the 2008 Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith document "Instruction ‘Dignitas Personae’ (‘The Dignity of a Person’): On Certain Bioethical Questions." The dignity of a person, the document says, "must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death. This fundamental principle expresses a great ‘yes’ to human life and must be at the center of ethical reflection on biomedical research."

Other faults Brehany found with He’s work included: practicing gene editing on other human embryos first; implanting twin embryos even though one of the twins did not carry the new trait, and may be "a patchwork of cells with various changes"; giving notice of his research only after he started; and having no experience running human research trials.

"On a normal day, in vitro fertilization already separates procreation from conjugal love," Brehany said. "It also introduces the option, and the temptation, of eugenics — checking out embryos by sight or sophisticated analysis to learn which exhibit optimal health or traits. Those that don’t measure up are routinely discarded."

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Editor’s Note: The full text of "Instruction ‘Dignitas Personae’ (‘The Dignity of a Person’): On Certain Bioethical Questions" can be found at


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Pope leads prayers for peace in ‘tormented’ Syria

12/03/2018 - 2:34pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Giuseppe Lami, EPA

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Leading thousands of pilgrims in prayer, Pope Francis lit a candle in remembrance of the people of Syria, especially innocent children tormented by the country’s eight-year conflict.

"May this flame of hope and many flames of hope dispel the darkness of war," he said Dec. 2 after praying the Angelus prayer.

The lighting of the candle was part of a Christmas campaign sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need to call attention to the plight of the Syrian people, especially Christians who are "in grave danger of becoming a relic of the past."

The campaign officially was launched with the candle lighting. According to Aid to the Church in Need, an estimated 50,000 children from different Christian communities in six war-torn cities of the country — Damascus, Homs, Marmarita, Aleppo, Hassake, Tartous and Latakia — lit candles for peace.

"Before the beginning of the war, Christians accounted for some 10 percent of the population, around 2.5 million people," the organization said on its website. "As of today, it is estimated that approximately only 700,000 remain, which would amount to between 3 and 4 percent of the population — although it is difficult to give precise figures at this stage."

Aid to the Church in Need also said it plans to finance emergency assistance programs in Syria valued at 15 million euros ($17 million).

Pope Francis called on the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray so that Christians may remain in Syria and the Middle East as "witnesses of mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation."

He also prayed that the flame of hope would reach those suffering around the world due to conflicts and that the hearts of those who profit from war would change.

"May God, our Lord, forgive those who wage war and those who make weapons … and convert their hearts," he said. "Let us pray for peace in beloved Syria."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju


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Advent is time of vigilance and prayer, pope says

12/03/2018 - 2:28pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Giuseppe Lami, EPA

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians can turn Christmas into a "pagan" or "mundane" holiday by focusing on the gifts and the tree rather than on the birth of Jesus and his promise to come again, Pope Francis said.

Celebrating the beginning of Advent Dec. 2 with the recitation of the Angelus prayer and at morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae the next day, the pope focused on the attitudes of vigilance and prayer that should characterize the Advent season and preparations for Christmas.

"If we think of Christmas in a consumeristic climate, looking at what we can buy to do this or that, as a mundane holiday, then Jesus will pass by and we will not find him," the pope said before reciting the Angelus with an estimated 20,000 people in St. Peter’s Square.

In the day’s Gospel reading from the 21st chapter of Luke, Jesus tells his disciples to be careful that their hearts "not become drowsy," but to "be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man" at the end of time.

"Be vigilant and pray — this is how to live this time from today until Christmas," the pope said.

The drowsy heart described in the Gospel, he said, is a condition that comes from focusing exclusively on oneself, "one’s problems, joys and pains," continually circling back around one’s own life.

"This is tiring, boring and closes off hope," he said, while "Advent calls us to make a commitment to watchfulness, looking outside ourselves, expanding our minds and hearts to open them to the needs of people, of our brothers and sisters, and to the desire for a new world."

The new world Christ promised is the desire of "so many people martyred by hunger, injustice and war; it is the desire of the poor, the weak, the abandoned," he said.

Advent, he said, "is the opportune time to open our hearts and to ask ourselves concrete questions about how we spend our lives and for whom."

Christians must hold fast to their identity, including at Christmas, by keeping the focus on Jesus and fighting the temptation to "paganize" the Christian feast, he said at the Angelus.

Returning to the theme at Mass Dec. 3, Pope Francis said Christians do well to remember they are not celebrating "the birth of the Christmas tree," which is a "beautiful sign," but the birth of Jesus.

"The Lord is born, the redeemer who came to save us is born," the pope said. Of course, Christmas is a celebration, but "there is always the danger, the temptation to banalize Christmas," to stop focusing on Jesus and get caught up in "shopping, gifts and this and that."

Advent, he said, is a time to purify one’s focus, remembering that Jesus came into the world to save people from sin, that each person will stand before him at the end of his or her life and that Jesus will come again.


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Nation mourns death of 41st president, recalls his life of public service

12/01/2018 - 5:55pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Rick Wilking, Reuters

By Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) — When he was running for re-election in 1992, President George H.W. Bush told Catholic News Service that he believed that a strong religious faith could provide "an extra shot of strength when you need it."

"I don’t believe you can be president without having faith. I really strongly feel that,” Bush said in a telephone interview that October as he flew en route from a campaign appearance in Kentucky to scheduled stops in Florida.

That religious faith that sustained him and his family and was clearly evident during his years in the White House and more recently as he mourned the April 17 death of his beloved wife of 73 years, Barbara, is being noted by many in paying tribute to his life and legacy after his death late Nov. 30 at age 94.

His spokesman, Jim McGrath, announced the death of the former president in a tweet. The cause of his death was not immediately available, but he had been in failing health the last few years. In 2012, he announced that he had vascular Parkinsonism, a condition that limited his mobility and required him to use a wheelchair most of the time.

The White House announced Dec. 1 that a state funeral is being arranged "with all of the accompanying support and honors." President Donald Trump will designate Dec. 5 as a national day of mourning. He and first lady Melania Trump will attend the funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington. The flags at the White House were lowered to half staff.

“Notre Dame joins with our nation and world in mourning the passing of President Bush,” said Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, president of the Catholic university in South Bend, Indiana. “He was the epitome of a public servant, not just in the Oval Office, but in his eight years as vice president, his many years as a congressman, ambassador and CIA director, and in his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

"We were fortunate to host him at Notre Dame on five occasions, and in each instance, the honor was ours," said Father Jenkins said in a Dec. 1 statement. "Our prayers are with the Bush family.”

Bush received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Notre Dame in 1992; he had visited the campus more than any other U.S. president.

Holy Cross Father Edward A. Malloy was Notre Dame’s president from 1987 to 2005 and presented the honorary degree to Bush during commencement ceremonies that year. He also worked on two of the president’s major initiatives — his Drug Advisory Council and his Points of Light Foundation.

"I found him to be a leader deeply committed to the country he had been elected to serve, a gracious host and a down-to-earth person," Father Malloy said in a statement. "He recognized the importance of American higher education and he sought to enhance it. He also sought to promote a culture of citizen engagement with the great issues of the day."

The National Right to Life Committee, a federation of state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters, also mourned Bush’s death and praised him for a number of pro-life measures he supported as president.

It cited among other actions his administration urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to pass laws to protect unborn children. He used "the power of his veto to stop 10 bills that contained pro-abortion provisions, including four appropriations bills which allowed for taxpayer funding of abortion," NRLC said in a statement.

"President George H.W. Bush dedicated his administration to advancing pro-life policies to protect mothers and their unborn children," said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. "He used his presidency to stop enactment of pro-abortion laws and promote life-affirming solutions. Our prayers today are with former President George W. Bush and the entire Bush family."

While in office, Bush stated that the "protection of innocent human life — in or out of the womb — is certainly the most compelling interest that a state can advance," she added.

With regard to capital punishment, Bush differed with the Catholic Church’s opposition to the death penalty, telling CNS that he supported it "in certain instances because I think if somebody murders a police officer that that person ought to pay with his life.”

Bush was criticized by Catholic and other faith leaders as well as peace activists for his decision to go to war in the Persian Gulf after then-Iraq President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

Some months before the U.S.-led war began Aug. 2, 1990, St. John Paul II pleaded for peace in the Gulf. "May leaders be convinced that war is an adventure with no return,” he said. "By reasoning, patience and dialogue with respect to the inalienable rights of peoples and nations, it is possible to identify and travel the paths of understanding and peace."

Attending the funeral of the pope in 2005, then-former President Bush recalled for reporters how the pontiff had opposed the war, which ended Feb. 28, 1991, citing what he called the pope’s "standard position on the use of force" and his concerns about "the long length of the war." One news account said Bush "lamented the fact that he (himself) never engaged in a discussion about the concept of a ‘just war.’"

During his pontificate, St. John Paul met with Bush twice at the Vatican, first when Bush was vice president and then when he was president.

"I had the opportunity to express my profound gratitude to the Holy Father for his spiritual and moral leadership,” Bush said in a statement after the two leaders met privately for more than an hour Nov. 8, 1991.

"His message for peace and the message that he sends across the world to all these countries” experiencing war and other hardships "is a message of hope and, indeed, a message of peace,” the president said.

Born in Milton, Massachusetts, June 12, 1924, Bush delayed entrance to Yale University to volunteer for service in World War II. At 18. he was one of the Navy’s youngest pilots. He was shot down during a 1944 bombing mission.

After graduating from Yale, he became an oilman in Texas, but after his stint in the oil fields, he spent most of the rest of his life in public service — including as a two-term congressman from Texas, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, an ambassador, vice president under President Ronald Reagan (1980-1988) and finally president (1988-1992).

He and Barbara married Jan. 6, 1945. As a young couple they suffered through the death from leukemia of daughter Robin at age 3. Throughout their lives they and their whole family mourned her loss. Bush is survived by son George W., the nation’s 43rd president, and four other children; 17 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren; and two siblings.

"We are guided by faith," Bush said of his wife and family in that 1992 interview with CNS. "We (are) regular attendees at church and that gives us strength every Sunday. And we just feel that it’s important as a family to pray together. We still say our blessings at our meals and we still say our prayers at night.” – – – Carol Zimmermann contributed to this story.


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St. Lawrence celebrates 150 years as ‘Beacon on the Hill’

12/01/2018 - 4:14am

By Walt Schaefer

The Price Hill neighborhood, founded primarily by German-Catholic families migrating to the high ground from Cincinnati’s West End, has changed in recent years. Yet the “Beacon on the Hill” promises to shine for years to come. The Gothic spires of St. Lawrence, known as the Mother Church of the many parishes in Price Hill, dominates the area around Glenway and Warsaw Avenues, where it has beckoned worshippers for 150 years.

The parish anniversary was celebrated Aug. 10, the feast of the patron saint, with Mass celebrated by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr. More than 350 people gathered for the dinner that followed, and the 365 students attending St. Lawrence School were treated to a cookout on Sept. 14, said Father Mark Watkins, pastor.

While Father Watkins politely declined to “speculate” on the future of the parish, his parishioners were eager to pull out the crystal ball. They see a vibrant future with a dedicated and popular pastor at the helm, a healthy school with outstanding faculty and staff, deep roots that extend well beyond the traditional parish boundaries; and a long legacy of serving west-side Catholics.

“An interesting thing is that our parishioners are willing to give back financially whenever there is a problem,” said Ginger Cheeseman, who returned to her home parish in 2004 after raising her children in St. Antoninus Parish. Cheeseman still lives in her Green Township home. She just returned to her home church.

St. Lawrence fosters “a life-long connection,” she said. “There are so many people my age (early 70s) who are now back there and St. Lawrence needs those people to be putting their money in the collection basket and they do.”

“Parishioners are willing to give back financially whenever there is a problem like the air conditioning. We needed $250,000 and had it in a heartbeat. When there was a roof problem in the sanctuary, the people took care of that. And, at St. Lawrence, there is never, ever, a talk about money from the pulpit. When we need something, the people give it. That legacy right there translates into a promising future,” said Cheeseman, a retired teacher who serves on the parish’s Education Council.

The architecture draws people, too, she said. “There are a lot of beautiful churches in Price Hill. But, I know there are a lot of young girls who say: ‘Oh my gosh, I would love to be married here because of the long aisle, and we have a history of beautiful music.’”

“The school is so phenomenal and it is educating a group of people who will continue to come back.” Cheeseman added.

While the school owes some of its success and its enrollment to the voucher program, which enables families, Catholic and non-Catholic, to choose St. Lawrence over the public school system, more than 50 percent of enrollment is Catholic. Among those Catholic families is Nick and Cathy Lageman and their children Emma, 13, in eighth grade; Leah, 10, in fifth; Adam, eight, in third, and Evan, three.

“Just from my own experience, because of the vouchers, there is a wide range of kids from different backgrounds and it is socioeconomically diverse,” said Nick Lageman. “This opens our kids up to seeing a lot of different things . Our kids are interacting with a more diverse population. That gives our kids a cross-section of the society they live in. I also like the fact we got to know all of the teachers and I’ve been pretty impressed with how well they work with the kids.”

“If you look at the parents who send their kids there and go to church there, it’s a small percentage of the population. We have Father Watkins who created an education fund for the school — a second collection — and he regularly on Sundays would talk about how well it was doing; how great it was,” he said.

The Lageman plan is to maintain the Catholic Price Hill tradition “and send our kids to Elder and Seton. I know Emma has her heart set on Seton and she has Seton gear and stuff. Adam is really into Elder. He has Elder shirts and pants. He’s decked out,” Lageman said.

Bill Auferman, with his wife, Sue, bought a Price Hill home 20 years ago and, after a stint at St. William, joined St. Lawrence. They bucked a trend, moving from suburban Forest Park to the city.

“When we moved onto our street, a lot of the homes were owned by senior citizens living in them. The neighborhood has changed a lot in 20 years. What happened is a lot of the senior citizens sold their homes to investors who turned them into rental properties. Now you no longer have owner-occupied homes, but tenant occupied homes,” said Auferman, who is parish scoutmaster, Cub Scout master, server trainer and Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus Council.

“What has happened,” said Auferman, “is a new pastor – Father Watkins, and there are deep roots. People keep coming back to the church and he recognizes it. It’s a beautiful church with a pastor who never gives the church a black eye. He’s a very honorable man. We all appreciate what he does.”

“I see people coming in and we have a lot of young people coming in on their own. It is not only old people who have been in the church for years. In 10 years, the parish will still be surviving and thriving. I don’t see a lot of change. It may even keep growing because there’s a very strong foundation here.”

Pope Francis Prayer intention for December

12/01/2018 - 12:46am
(APOSTLESHIP OF PRAYER) Evangelization: In the Service of the
Transmission of Faith
That people, who are involved in the service and transmission of faith, may find, in their dialogue with
culture, a language suited to the conditions of the present time.

Obituaries: November

12/01/2018 - 12:43am

Sister Marian Ruede

A Mass of Christian Burial for Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Marian Ruede was celebrated Oct. 22 in the motherhouse chapel. Sister Marian, 88, died Oct. 18.

She was a Sister of Charity for 71 years. A native of Jackson, Mich., Sister Marian’s ministries included 27 years as an educator and 25 years as a pastoral minister. In the archdiocese, she taught at St. Saviour in Rossmoyne, and Holy Family in Price Hill. She went on to serve in pastoral ministry at St. Michael Parish in Sharonville.

Interment was in the Sisters of Charity cemetery.

Sister Elizabeth Cashman

A Mass of Christian Burial for Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Elizabeth (John Christopher) Cashman was celebrated Nov. 5 in the motherhouse chapel. Sister Elizabeth, 92, died Oct. 29. She was a Sister of Charity for 73 years.

A native of Springfield, Sister Elizabeth’s ministries included 16 years as an educator, seven as formation director for her religious community, 30 years in administration, and 16 at the former College of Mount St. Joseph (MSJ). She served as vicar for religious for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, director of Personnel Services, and as a consultant to Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk. In 1975, Sister Elizabeth was invited to serve as vice-president at MSJ. She went on to minister as the dean of students. In the 90s, she chaired the Mission Integration Committee at the college, and continued to volunteer in campus ministry after she retired.

Interment was in the Sisters of Charity cemetery.

Sister Mary Lou Knapke

A Mass of Christian Burial for Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Mary Lou Knapke was celebrated Nov. 13 in the motherhouse chapel. Sister Mary Lou, 77, died Nov. 6.

She was a Sister of Charity for 58 years. A native of Coldwater, Ohio, Sister Mary Lou’s ministries included 14 years as an educator and 20 in pastoral ministries in a variety of settings. In the archdiocese, she taught at St. Boniface in Northside, St. Albert in Kettering, and the former St. Elizabeth in Norwood. She ministered in adult education programs at both HUB services and East End Community Learning in Cincinnati. In parish ministry, she served at the former St. Matthew in Norwood, and St. Andrew in Milford.

After completing a license program in massage studies, Sister Mary Lou ministered in a variety of locations, including Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Bayley Senior Care Corporation, the Forest Park Fire Department, and disaster settings in New Orleans, and Ground Zero in New York, N.Y.

Interment was in the Sisters of Charity cemetery.

Deacon Jonathan Borgerding

A Mass of Christian Burial for Deacon Jonathan “Jack” Peters Borgerding was celebrated Nov. 8 at St. Patrick Church in Troy. Deacon Borgerding, 89, died Nov. 3.

Deacon Borgerding was ordained to the diaconate by Archbishop Joseph Bernardin at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains on July 28, 1979. Deacon Borgerding served at St. Patrick Parish in Troy upon ordination.

In 1983, he and his wife, Peggy, moved to Nashville, Tenn., where he continued his diaconal ministry for 19 years. They moved back to Cincinnati in August 2002.

Upon his return, he was assigned to St. Denis Parish in Versailles, and Holy Family Parish in Frenchtown. Deacon Borgerding faithfully served the church as a deacon for 39 years.

Deacon Borgerding is survived by his wife of 64 years, daughters, Janice Berger and Michelle Ullom, and sons, Dennis, Kenneth, Patrick and Richard.

Interment was in St. Valbert Cemetery in Versailles.

Deacon John Schmiesing

A Mass of Christian Burial for Deacon John Schmiesing was celebrated Nov. 15 at St. Augustine Church in Minster. Deacon Schmiesing, 88, died Nov. 10.

Deacon Schmiesing was ordained to the diaconate by Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains on Sept. 28, 1991. Deacon Schmiesing served at St. Augustine Parish upon ordination. He remained at the parish during his entire 27 years of ordained ministry.

Deacon Schmiesing is survived by his daughters, Susan McDaniel, Mary Bornhorst, Dorothy Bruns, Therese Smith, Bonnie Trzaska, and Martha Bohman, and sons, Sam, Phil, Ken, Charles, John and Gary.

Interment was in St. Augustine Cemetery.

Busca al Señor par el Arzobispo Dennis M. Schnurr

12/01/2018 - 12:34am

La temporada de Adviento, en la cual entramos en diciembre, es un período de espera vigilante en preparación para el Nacimiento del Señor en Navidad. En esto, como en tantas cosas, la Iglesia es contracultural. ¡Algunas tiendas han estado decorando para Navidad desde antes de Halloween!

Es común cada año, durante estas semanas, escuchar referencias al “significado real de la Navidad”, especialmente en películas y programas de televisión. Dependiendo de la producción, esto se describe de diversas maneras como ser amable con todos, orar por la paz en la tierra, ayudar a los menos afortunados o estar con familiares y amigos.

Todas esas son formas maravillosas de celebrar la Navidad, pero ninguna de ellas es el significado de la Navidad. Sin embargo, un programa que lo hace bien es el continuamente popular “La Navidad de Charlie Brown”. El punto culminante dramático del espectáculo es cuando Linus se encuentra en el centro de atención y cita el siguiente pasaje del Evangelio de San Lucas. Escucharemos la misma sección del Evangelio proclamada en la Misa de Medianoche en Navidad:

“En la región había pastores que vivían en el campo y que por la noche se turnaban para cuidar sus rebaños. Se les apareció un ángel del Señor, y la gloria del Señor los rodeó de claridad. Y quedaron muy asustados. Pero el ángel les dijo: ‘No tengan miedo, pues yo vengo a comunicarles una buena noticia, que será motivo de mucha alegría para todo el pueblo: hoy, en la ciudad de David, ha nacido para ustedes un Salvador, que es el Mesías y el Señor. Miren como lo reconocerán: hallaran a un niño recién nacido, envuelto en pañales y acostado en un pesebre.’ De pronto una multitud de seres celestiales aparecieron junto al ángel, y alababan a Dios con estas palabras: ‘Gloria a Dios en lo más alto del cielo y en la tierra paz a los hombres: esta es la hora de su gracia’” (Lc 2:8-14).

Linus concluye diciendo: “De eso se trata la Navidad, Charlie Brown”. Y así es.

El Evangelio según San Juan, a diferencia de San Lucas y San Mateo, no nos da una narrativa de la Natividad. En cambio, cuenta la historia en términos teológicos: “Y la Palabra se hizo carne, y puso su tienda entre nosotros, y hemos visto su Gloria, la Gloria que recibe del Padre el Hijo único; en él todo era don amoroso y verdad” (Jn 1:14).

Antes en el Evangelio de Juan, el Evangelista se refiere a Cristo como “la luz de la raza humana” anunciada por Juan el Bautista: “Ella era la luz verdadera, la luz que ilumina a todo hombre, y llegaba al mundo” (Jn 1:9). Jesús, más tarde se refiere a sí mismo como “Yo soy la luz del mundo” (Jn 8:12). Eso es lo que representan las luces de los árboles de Navidad en nuestras casas.

El mundo necesita urgentemente esa luz, porque vivimos en tiempos muy oscuros. En la vida política de nuestra nación, las divisiones entre los estadounidenses son profundas. Nuestro discurso se caracteriza por una espantosa falta de civismo que ha alcanzado nuevas profundidades. Y en la Iglesia, los Católicos estamos enojados y entristecidos por las malas acciones de algunos miembros de la jerarquía. Muchos de nosotros nos sentimos traicionados.

Sin embargo, Cristo no nos ha traicionado ni abandonado. No, nuestras luces Navideñas recuerdan que “la luz brilla en las tinieblas, y las tinieblas no la impidieron” (Jn 1: 5). Cristo es la luz a la que debemos buscar en tiempos oscuros, no a ningún líder humano. Él es la única fuente verdadera de la paz, el gozo y la plenitud de vida que Dios quiere darnos.

Que la paz de Cristo llene su hogar y su vida en esta temporada navideña. Y si ha estado alejado de los sacramentos durante varios meses o aún varias décadas, por favor, venga a casa para Navidad.

Seek the Lord by Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr

12/01/2018 - 12:20am

The season of Advent, which we enter in December, is a period of watchful waiting in preparation for the Nativity of the Lord at Christmas. In this, as in so many things, the Church is counter-cultural. Some stores have been decorating for Christmas since before Halloween!

It is common during these weeks each year to hear references to “the real meaning of Christmas,” especially in movies and television programs. Depending on the production, this is variously depicted as being nice to everybody, praying for peace on earth, helping the less fortunate, or being with family and friends.

Those are all wonderful ways of celebrating Christmas, but none of them is the meaning of Christmas. One program that gets it right, however, is the perennially popular “Charlie Brown’s Christmas.” The dramatic high point of the show is when Linus stands in a spotlight and quotes from the Gospel of St. Luke. We will hear that same section of the Gospel proclaimed at Midnight Mass on Christmas:

“Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’” (Lk 2:8-14)

Linus concludes by saying, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” And so it is.

The Gospel according to St. John, unlike that of St. Luke and St. Matthew, does not give us a narrative of the Nativity. Instead, it tells the story in theological terms: “And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).

Earlier in John’s Gospel, the Evangelist refers to Christ as “the light of the human race” announced by John the Baptist: “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world” (Jn 1:9). Jesus later refers to Himself as “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12). That is what the lights on our Christmas trees and homes represent.

The world is in dire need of that light, for we live in very dark times. In the political life of our nation, divisions among Americans run deep. Our discourse is characterized by an appalling lack of civility that has reached new depths. And in the Church, we Catholics are angered and saddened by the evil actions of some members of the hierarchy. Many of us feel betrayed.

However, Christ has not betrayed us or abandoned us. No, our Christmas lights recall that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn 1:5). Christ is the light to which we must turn in dark times, not to any human leader. He is the only true source of the peace, joy, and fullness of life that God wants to give us.

May that peace of Christ fill your home and your life this Christmas season. And if you have been away from the sacraments for several months or even several decades, please come home for Christmas.