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Myanmar Beatifications

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Photos of both Fr. Mario and
Isidore, to be beatified

The Servants of God, Fr. Mario Vergara, a priest with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), and lay catechist, Isidore Ngei Ko Lat, will be beatified. They were killed in hatred of the faith in Shadaw, Myanmar, on May 24, 1950.

Pope Francis made the decision after authorizing the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree concerning their martyrdom. Mgr. Phamo Soter, bishop of Loikaw, who was the son of a catechist trained by Fr. Mario, began the diocesan process for the case in 2003. Hence, the Burmese Church will celebrate its first blessed.

Fr. Mario Vergara was born in Frattamaggiore, near Naples, Italy, on November 18, 1910. In 1929, after studying at the Jesuit minor seminary in Posillipo, he was admitted to the PIME seminary in Monza… In August 1933, he was admitted to the PIME novitiate in Sant'Ilario Ligure under the guidance of Fr. Emilio Milani, who was a missionary in China. On August 26, 1934, he was ordained priest by Card. Ildefonso Schuster in the Church of Bernareggio. By the end of September, he had joined the PIME mission in Burma.

Read more: Myanmar Beatifications

Haiti After Four Years

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A young boy in the marketplace in Pestel, Haiti

Editor: Port Au Prince, Haiti, January 17, 2014 – Four years after a devastating earthquake affected millions in Haiti, Catholic Relief Services continues to help the nation move from recovery to addressing social concerns that pre-dated the catastrophe.

“You can’t help but have great love for Haitians,” Darren Hercyk, Catholic Relief Services’ Country Representative for Haiti based in Port-au-Prince, told CNA Jan. 15.

In Haiti, he said, there are “stories of great courage and hope; at the same time you hear stories of great challenges.”

On Jan. 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti near its capital city of Port-au-Prince, leaving 230,000 people dead and over 1.5 million people without shelter. Prior to the earthquake, Catholic Relief Services had already been present and working in Haiti “for a long time,” with a great number of resources and local connection and over 300 employees in the country. After the earthquake, Hercyk explained, “we mobilized all of those resources for lifesaving.”

Read more: Haiti After Four Years

Migrants Coming Out of the Darkness

Untitled-1God is light and we Christians are called to reflect that light in the world. This entails our inviting others into communion with the Church, speaking out against injustice, and striving to exemplify in our life Christ’s example.

Turning to the Gospel message we are warned against hoarding the goods of the earth for our own pleasure, and told to sell all we have and giving alms (Lk 12:33), feed the poor, visit the imprisoned, give drink to the thirsty, and welcome the stranger (Mt 25). The stranger can come in different forms, but one way in particular that she comes into our midst is in the form of the migrant.

Far away from home and dwelling in a new land, often poor with few possessions of their own, migrants can be an especially vulnerable group of people and open to exploitation and abuse. For this reason we should pay special attention to their needs, both religious and material, and advocate on their behalf with the hope of ensuring their protection and well-being.

Read more: Migrants Coming Out of the Darkness

Learning to See Again

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(from left) Façade of East Wing of the National
Gallery, Washington, DC; atrium of East Wing
with Alexander Calder’s mobile

I am a visual person, one who is greatly affected by what I see. Often I will take time to visit sights of beauty, including beautiful cities like Boston, Newport and New York, the various seashore points of interest, museums and even buildings. There have been some unusual buildings which have challenged me to learn again how to see beyond the surface.

For example, when I first visited Chinese-born I.M. Pei’s East Wing of the National Gallery in Washington, DC, I was (and still am) attracted by this most unusual building. The outside is comprised of giant geometric figures, looking quite severe. Yet when I enter and walk into the impressively high atrium, which is a welcoming inside courtyard decorated with Connecticut’s own Alexander Calder and his 76-foot-long, multi-colored and overpowering mobile which swooshes through the impressive space, moving slowly round and round above the wayfarers. I remember sitting one time for about two hours, just trying to take in this hub of activity yet a very peaceful space. I felt like I was in an inner world of beauty all its own and the people just added to its life and color.

Read more: Learning to See Again

March For Life 2014

 

Washington, D.C., Jan 23, 2014 – Continuing a decades-long trend, college students and young people from across the nation maintained a strong presence on Jan. 22 at the 41st annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.

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Young people gather behind a University
of St. Thomas-Houston flag on the
National Mall in Washington D.C. for
the March for Life on Jan. 22, 2014.
(Photo: Addie Mena/CNA)

“It is a privilege to be in the nation’s capital and host young pilgrims from all over the country for the annual March for Life. Our University community takes great pride in providing housing and meals for our many friends,” said The Catholic University of America chaplain Fr. Jude DeAngelo.

Each year, the school – located in northeast D.C. – hosts droves of college students who have come from all over the country to take part in the March for Life.

Held each year on or near Jan. 22, the march marks the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decisions that resulted in legal abortion throughout the U.S. Since that time, some 55 million unborn babies have become victims of abortion.

The D.C. March for Life typically draws huge numbers of participants – primarily young people – from across the country. Last year, organizers estimated an attendance of around 650,000 people.

Read more: March For Life 2014

Catholic Martyrs of Japan

 

Rome (AsiaNews) - The agreement between the Vatican Library and the Japanese government to translate and inventory the Marega Papers "is important not only for Catholics, but also from a

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A Priest at the Vatican Archives shows one of 10,000
documents chronicling the persecution of Christians
in Japan in the 17th to 19th centuries

historical point of view," said Teruaki Nagasaki, Japanese ambassador to the Holy See.

"I am very happy with this decision," he told AsiaNews. "I think that in Japan many researchers are just waiting for these texts to shed a better light on that period. And of course it is very nice that such collaboration has emerged."

The 'Marega Papers' are a compilation of around 10,000 documents chronicling the persecution of Christians in Japan between the 17th and the 19th centuries.

An Italian missionary, Rev Mario Marega, took the papers to Rome in the 1940s, where they were left untouched until researcher Delio Proverbio found them in the Vatican Archives in 2010.

Read more: Catholic Martyrs of Japan

Philippines Celebrate Year of Laity

As the Church in the Philippines begins a new year, its focus turns to the designated theme for reflection: Laity in the Mission of the Church. In the nine-year schema of the Philippine Bishops (CBCP) leading to “the great jubilee of 2021,” the second year (2014) is devoted to the role of the laity in the Church.

Untitled-1The year 2021 will be “the fifth centenary of the coming of Christianity to our beloved land” (1521-2021). To adequately prepare for this event, the Church decided to “embark on a nine-year spiritual journey…. It is a grace-filled event of blessings for the Church.”

This comprehensive vision of renewal is founded on the pillars of “faith” and “evangelization.” We constantly need to ask: What is the role of faith-filled laity in evangelization? How do laity live, proclaim, witness, and transmit Christ’s Gospel to humanity? How can the laity facilitate the “opening up of people’s lives, society, culture and history to the person of Christ and his living community, the Church”?

Read more: Philippines Celebrate Year of Laity

Myanmar Archbishop Seeks Human Rights

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Archbishop Charles Bo, Archbishop of
Yangon (formerly Rangoon), Myanmar

Yangon (AsiaNews) - The marriage, conversion to another faith or worship other than that of birth and the right to vote - even for religious leaders, be they Buddhist, Christian, Hindu or Muslim - are inviolable rights of the person and citizen. So says AsiaNews, Archbishop Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, which strongly emphasizes the value and importance of civil rights in a democratic society.

In recent days, the leaders of the major religions gathered in the commercial capital of Myanmar, for a public meeting on the theme "The religious roots of social harmony", less than a week from the new sectarian violence in the west of the country. The conference was joined about a hundred people, including the U Wirathu, the head of the controversial "969 Movement",according to critics charge of fomenting hatred and division against the Muslim minority.

Read more: Myanmar Archbishop Seeks Human Rights

A Rock Star Pope?

 

Untitled-1Well, the impossible has happened – Pope Francis is on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine! Since I’m a baby boomer, this reminds me of the old 1970s song, "Cover of the Rolling Stone" which was recorded by Dr. Hook.

Of course, most of the lyrics speak about drugs and rock and roll but, oddly, there is a part of the song which does sound like Pope Francis’ life! For example, “And we're loved everywhere we go... We sing about beauty and we sing about truth…” He might not sing but he does speak about humanity’s higher call.

The truth is that, like the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa, the Pope no doubt has his own “groupies” who hang on his every word. Yet I do wonder what he feels about his being pictured on the cover of Rolling Stone? Although he has better things to think about, I think it’s cool! But I’ve heard that the article is fairly lightweight – not much substance to it. That’s unfortunate.

But Pope Francis is quite popular. He seems to be “a man of the people” who does what he wants to do. I love hearing about the stories describing his telephone call to a person who wrote to him about a certain personal struggle. When he calls that individual, of course he first has to convince them that the phone call is not a prank and then he can talk with them. I love the spontaneity and compassion of it all.

As bishop of Rome, he seems to be a down to earth person who really cares for the people he’s charged to lead and serve. When he speaks to youth or Catholic religious and tells them that they should “wake up the world” and “make a mess”, I can definitely go along with that.

Read more: A Rock Star Pope?

Gossiping the Gospel

Untitled-1Editor: In her extensive paper, Mission Spirituality in Global Perspective, by Madge Kareecki, SSJ-TOSF, she concludes (on pgs. 31-33) with the following explanation of how each person can be an evangelizer in their own surroundings:

Mission spirituality speaks to us of the need to witness to the fact that the call to mission is a communal call. All of Jesus‘ disciples were sent on mission, not some elite group. Since there can be no Christian life except in community we must actualize this reality by building relationships that give witness to the fact that we are indeed members of one family called and sent to give witness to Christ in the world by our very lives. In order to do this we need to have within and among us “the mind of Christ” (Phil 2:5).

The Church – Missionary By Nature

Read more: Gossiping the Gospel

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