MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Nearly a decade after the slaying of 72 migrants on a ranch in northeastern Mexico, church leaders and migrant shelter operators are once again demanding the authorities properly investigate one of the country’s most notorious crimes.
The “pastors and migrant defenders” also called for Mexican officials to provide justice to the families of the victims of the massacre on a ranch near the town of San Fernando, about 90 miles south of the Texas border, where drug cartel gunmen murdered the abducted migrants, who refused to go to work for them.
“For more than 10 years, the investigation has not advanced. No sentences have been handed down. There are no scientific investigations nor contextual analyses. There’s no transnational investigation. The families continue waiting for explanations and accountability, but there’s no continuity in the investigation,” read a statement signed by Bishop Enrique Sánchez Martínez of Nuevo Laredo, director of social ministries for the northeast ecclesiastical province and migrant shelters in three states.
“Beyond the massacre at San Fernando (and) accompanying the families of the victims who seek justice and the reparation of damage, we demand that the competent authorities take seriously the grave situation of human rights (in Mexico) so that such violence never repeats itself.”
The massacre at San Fernando caused outrage in Mexico and internationally and highlighted the growing power and cruelty of drug cartels and organized crime, which at the time were moving into illegal activities such as human trafficking and kidnapping migrants for ransom.
Members of Los Zetas, a cartel founded by ex-Mexican special forces, are accused of the crime, but no one has been sentenced. Not all of the victims have been identified.
“The only certainty is that it was organized crime,” said Javier Urbano, a migration expert at the Jesuit-run Iberoamerican University.
A survivor of the massacre — an Ecuadorian national — walked 10 miles to a military checkpoint and said the migrants had been transported to a ranch, bound and blindfolded, and were shot dead. A second massacre occurred in the region in 2011 as Los Zetas’ gunmen pulled at least 193 passengers off buses traveling through San Fernando.
Ten years on, the massacre’s pending anniversary has failed to capture the public imagination, and polls show attitudes in Mexico toward migrants transiting the country deteriorating. Analysts also say the Mexican government has not shown the same interest in resolving the case as other atrocities, such as the disappearance of 43 students in 2014.
“Any slaying or any serious problem always ends up in impunity because the delivery of justice in Mexico is so deficient,” Urbano said. “Nobody wants to manage a problem that happened in a previous government” unless it’s politically useful, he added. “San Fernando is no longer politically profitable. (It’s) a case to be resolved someday.”
In a video posted Aug. 19 by the Diocese of Saltillo, Bishop Raúl Vera López angrily denounced the lack of progress into the San Fernando massacre, saying, “The most astonishing thing is the do-nothing policy of the Mexican government.”
He also warned, “If we leave these things in impunity, our society will decompose and it will catch up with us.”
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNS) — The derecho storm that ravaged Iowa Aug. 10 caused an estimated $4 billion in damages, and Gov. Kim Reynolds requested an expedited Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for the state to assist with the recovery.
“From cities to farms, Iowans are hurting; many still have challenges with shelter, food, and power. Resilience is in our DNA, but we’re going to need a strong and timely federal response to support recovery efforts,” Reynolds said in an Aug. 16 news release.
She requested funding under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individual Assistance Program for 27 counties, including nine in the Diocese of Davenport. She also requested funding under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program for repair or replacement of public infrastructure and debris removal for 16 counties, seven of which are in the Diocese of Davenport.
Reynolds said she had spoken days before to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who pledged the full support of the federal government.
On Aug. 17, Trump signed the disaster declaration, but an AP story said he had approved only the public assistance portion of the governor’s request for $3.99 billion.
The next day during his visit to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump was pressed by Mayor Brad Hart and other local officials to provide more disaster funds, and he said, “OK, we’ll take care of it, Mayor,” according to the Des Moines Register daily newspaper.
The approved amount totals about $45 million for 16 counties, covering debris removal and repair to government buildings and utilities. But state officials said much more is needed, including an estimated $82.7 million for homes destroyed or with major damage and $3.77 billion for agriculture damage to farmland, grain bins and buildings.
Among Catholic churches in the Davenport Diocese that sustained damage was Ss. Philip and James Parish in Grand Mound, which had its roof opened up by the derecho storm.
Peter Whitman, the parish’s building committee chair, said the rubber on the church’s roof peeled back and popped up. Water entered the exposed area, soaking through the foam insulation and down into the church. Ceiling tiles fell, the carpet was soaked and some lights were damaged. A window also was broken.
“The wood in the ceiling is saturated,” he said.
During a phone interview Aug. 14, Whitman said the church still had no power. “A group of guys got a generator and we got the air conditioning on,” he told The Catholic Messenger, newspaper of the Diocese of Davenport.
When they hooked up the generator, he said, the temperature in the church was 81 degrees with 100% humidity. “It was pretty soupy in there.” Someone turns off the generator at night and turns it back on in the morning.
Large floor fans helped to move the air around and assist with drying things out. “We have our own tornado going on inside,” he laughed. The day after the storm, workers temporarily sealed the roof until repairs are made.
The roof of St. Mary Church in Oxford also sustained wind damage. Some clay tiles blew off and others were lifted up but did not return to the correct position. “We are so thankful it isn’t worse,” parish office staffer Kathy Brack said.
Father Ross Epping, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Grinnell, experienced the storm up close and personal inside the rectory.
Other diocesan entities reported tree damage, primarily; some had greatly diminished power after the storm.
When John Conway, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Wellman, learned where the worst of the storm occurred, he contacted the secretary of his Model A club based in Marion, Iowa. He volunteered his services to anyone in the area in need of help.
Conway has a grapple-equipped skid steer loader and chainsaws, perfect for tree removal. To date, he has assisted several families, working from Aug. 11-15 and then again on Aug. 17. He remained on call to provide additional help.
Driving back and forth to his volunteer assignments, he said, “It broke my heart to see how awful the cornfields looked. In my 50-plus years of farming, I have never seen this much damage to a corn crop in such a short time.”
“Doing good for the sake of doing good feels good,” he wrote in an Aug. 14 post on his Facebook page. “Volunteered myself and my grapple-equipped skid steer loader and chainsaws to help someone who had none of the above and literally dozens of very large trees down in their yard.” He didn’t get the job done that day, but later.
“The folks were complete strangers when I drove into their yard, but we are good friends now,” he wrote.
Monica Harter made a presentation on marital spirituality and prayer without her husband, Lynn, during a virtual marriage preparation program Aug. 15.
“My husband is in Cedar Rapids. He’s a power lineman,” Monica explained to her virtual audience of six young couples.
Lynn was working 17 hours a day, seven days a week restoring power to homes and businesses thrown into the dark by the ferocious derecho storm Aug. 10. He expected to continue that demanding schedule for another couple of weeks, she said. She asked for prayers for her husband, his co-workers, and all the people affected by the storm.
Cheryl Costello of Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire listed tree removers and power linemen among the people and things for which she is grateful in her Aug. 16 Facebook post.
“I will no longer wonder why MidAmerican (Energy Co.) guys sit in their trucks,” she wrote. “I now know they’re waiting for the tree guys and don’t want to abandon the folks waiting to turn on their light(s), their presence represents a beacon of hope. I now have increased appreciation for the power pulsing through the lines to my house, respect for the force of the wind and am humbled by the weight of one tree.”
Roseanne Wisor, a member of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish in Lost Nation, wasn’t able to make it to her diocesan pastoral council meeting Aug. 15, sending this email as explanation:
“We are still helping folks with their cleanup, especially family in rural Cedar Rapids with no power. Please keep all these folks in your prayers. It’s hard to believe until you actually see it. I live in Lowden and most are still waiting for power, etc. I have never experienced such kindness toward neighbors. We didn’t get much damage but everyone is helping out. This is a good example of living the Gospel.”
Later, she told The Catholic Messenger that she had just returned from her sister’s home in Van Horne where Wisor and other helpers cleaned up downed trees.
“Again, that was living the Gospel,” she said. “Here in Lowden I was so touched by the folks sharing generators so all wasn’t lost and they could experience the joy of a warm shower or food in their refrigerators. We don’t realize how blessed we are until we are without the small things.”
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Arland-Fye is editor and Amacher is assistant editor and a reporter at The Catholic Messenger, newspaper of the Diocese of Davenport. Staff reporter Lindsay Steele contributed to this story.
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Reading 1 EZ 36:23-28
Thus says the LORD:
I will prove the holiness of my great name,
profaned among the nations,
in whose midst you have profaned it.
Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD,
when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.
For I will take you away from among the nations,
gather you from all the foreign lands,
and bring you back to your own land.
I will sprinkle clean water upon you
to cleanse you from all your impurities,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts.
I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes,
careful to observe my decrees.
You shall live in the land I gave your ancestors;
you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Responsorial Psalm PS 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
R. (Ezekiel 36:25) I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.
R. I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins.
Alleluia PS 95:8
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel MT 22:1-14
Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables saying,
“The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
For the readings of the Memorial of Saint Bernard, please go here.
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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
St. Bernard (1090-1153) was born near Dijon and died in Clairvaux, France. He was of a noble family and received a careful education in his youth. With his father, brother and thirty noblemen he entered the Benedictine monastery of Citeaux. Two years later he led a group of monks to establish a house at Clairvaux, and became its abbot. The monastic rule which he perfected at Clairvaux became the model for 163 monasteries of the Cistercian reform. He was a theologian, poet, orator, and writer. He is sometimes considered as a Father of the Church.
NEW YORK (CNS) — In the case of a physical ailment, distinguishing between the patient and his or her disease is a straightforward matter. That distinction is — or, at least, can be — less clear when it comes to mental illness.
That’s one of the points made in the touching drama “Words on Bathroom Walls” (Roadside), the main character of which, Adam (Charlie Plummer), is a teen suffering from schizophrenia. Adam not only fears that he may have no viable future but that he and his affliction may, in truth, be one.
After a psychotic incident that injures a fellow student at his public high school, Adam is forced to transfer in the middle of his senior year. It’s hardly an ideal situation and he’s lucky to be given a place at a Catholic academy, St. Agatha’s, though he’s none too pleased with this outcome.
Still, with no better option available, Adam, an aspiring chef whose admission to a culinary arts college is dependent on his graduating, settles down and tries to fit in with his new peers. Among them is the self-proclaimed future valedictorian of her class, Maya (Taylor Russell).
Maya may be intellectually gifted, but she’s also ethically compromised. Adam first meets her when he inadvertently witnesses her secret negotiations with a student to whom she sells completed homework. It’s not long before he offers her an opportunity to earn money more honestly by tutoring him.
As the two bond, Adam predictably fosters the hope of making Maya his girlfriend. Yet he feels compelled to conceal his disorder from her and fears that falling for him might ruin her life.
Adam also has to cope with the effects of his condition on his relationships with his loving, dedicated (but unnamed) mother (Molly Parker) and with her live-in boyfriend, Paul (Walton Goggins). Adam is convinced that Paul wants to send him to an institution and regards his every move with suspicion, seeing Paul as a hostile force in his life.
In adapting Julia Walton’s 2017 novel, director Thor Freudenthal poignantly depicts beleaguered Adam’s numerous challenges.
He struggles with hallucinations, many involving a trio of imaginary personas played by AnnaSophia Robb, Lobo Sebastian and Devon Bostick. And the side effects of an experimental medicine he’s prescribed make him wonder whether the cure isn’t worse than the sickness.
Viewers of faith will appreciate that, along with mom, one of St. Agatha’s chaplains, Father Patrick (Andy Garcia), provides the film with its moral compass. Unflappable, wise, compassionate and ever ready with an apt verse from Scripture, he doesn’t let Adam’s professed atheism stand in his way. He also vindicates the value of confession in a way not often seen in a contemporary mainstream movie.
Those inclined to find fault will note that Father Patrick gives Adam absolution without the latter having confessed to any sins. While the cleric is something of a heroic figure, moreover, St. Agatha’s as a whole is not portrayed in an entirely positive light. Some of the religious details are off as well, as when Father Patrick wears his priestly stole to graduation.
Taking the larger view, Nick Naveda’s script deals with its difficult central topic in a subtle and effective way, partly through the wry outlook Adam adopts in recounting his own travails. And there’s a strong, deftly handled note of reconciliation in the wrap-up.
As a result, some parents of older adolescents may feel comfortable discounting the sprinkling of vulgarity in the dialogue and focusing instead on the movie’s underlying values and humane sensitivity.
The film contains mature themes, including mental illness, cohabitation, sexual references, at least one use each of profane and rough language and several crude terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.
WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — Cardinal Maurice Piat of Port-Louis, Mauritius, has praised public responses to an oil spill that devastated the island’s coastline, as one prominent lay Catholic demanded “honest information” about the disaster.
“Numerous families are afflicted by a pestilential and persistent odor — fishermen and all those living from the sea are suffering particularly, while ecological treasures in our coastal bays and islets are gravely damaged,” said Cardinal Piat.
“Amid the pain shared by so many, I salute the beautiful outpouring of active and enterprising solidarity now showing itself in a bid to save what might still be saved.”
The 79-year-old cardinal issued the message Aug. 11 as desperate efforts continued to contain oil from the Japanese bulk carrier, MV Wakashio, which ran aground on a coral reef off Pointe d’Esny. The ship flew a Panamanian flag, which allows it to avoid marine regulations imposed by Japan.
Cardinal Piat said he was encouraged to see “civil society awakening” with a “fine ecological conscience,” in ways that he said should be “taken into account by economic and political decision-makers.”
However, a senior lay Catholic warned that the Indian Ocean country’s unique marine ecosystem, one of the few remaining worldwide, looked set to suffer lasting damage and said the disaster left “many unanswered questions” about the Japanese tanker’s presence.
“This ship ran aground in the worst possible place — a habitat for many protected species, when our country was still closed to tourists because of COVID-19 — it’s an ecological catastrophe,” Martine Lajoie, assistant chief editor of the church’s La Vie Catholique weekly, told Catholic News Service Aug. 14.
“But Mauritius is facing another crisis as well, when those running the country are not trusted. Even if they say truthful things, people won’t believe them,” she added.
The tanker, owned by Nagashiki Shipping, became stranded July 25 off the southeast coast, with 3800 tons of heavy oil and 200 tons of diesel, and was reported breaking up Aug. 3.
Pravind Jugnauth, prime minister of Mauritius, said Aug. 13 most of the remaining fuel had now been transferred to shore by helicopter.
However, Greenpeace Africa said the oil slick had spread over 10 square miles by Aug. 11, leaving thousands of rare species “at risk of drowning in a sea of pollution.”
Father Jean-Pierre Arlanda, rector of Our Lady of the Angels Parish at Mahebourg, one of the worst-affected ports, told a radio station local Catholics had “mobilized immediately,” using knowledge and skills, as well as staging a “cycle of prayer and solidarity.”
Lajoie said the crisis had strengthened religious and cultural ties on the island, adding that its Interreligious Council would stage a national interfaith prayer service Aug. 16.
However, she cautioned oil was still flowing from the Japanese carrier and was certain to force the closure of Mauritius’ Blue Bay Marine Park and other internationally known areas, as well as wrecking the livelihoods of those dependent on tourism.
“We also need honest information about who bears responsibility for this disaster, at a time when our economic situation was already difficult,” she added. “What will happen to Mauritius now that its lagoons and beaches are wrecked?”
The post Mauritius cardinal praises outpouring of solidarity after oil spill appeared first on Catholic News Service.
BEIRUT (CNS) — Sunlight streamed through the damaged rotunda roof of Mar Mikhael Maronite Catholic Church, damaged when a massive explosion in the port ripped through the city.
Baby Simon’s parents readied him for his baptism on the feast of the Assumption, Aug. 15.
“Life must continue,” Maria Nader, Simon’s mother, told Catholic News Service as she held her 2-month-old son. “We already had the baptism scheduled. We didn’t want to cancel it” after the Aug. 4 blast.
“Despite what happened, which is so devastating to everyone, I think the message is that we have to spread hope, that there is still hope for everyone,” Nader said. Following the Maronite tradition of a baptism name, the baby’s parents chose Charbel, after the beloved Lebanese saint.
The serenity of the first sacrament was punctuated by commotion outside: a chorus of beeping horns, motor scooters zipping by, jackhammers digging through rubble — as if the church were an open air arena.
That’s because the church’s stained-glass windows were completely blasted out during the massive double explosion. A sole window — a cross — remained intact, illuminated in brilliant colors as if a testimony to the promise of faith.
Also spared from the destruction of the blast were the crucifix and statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Blessed Mother on either side of the altar, as well as the glistening St. Michael mosaic backdrop.
“It’s a sign that the Lord is here,” said Maronite Father Elia Mouannes, parish priest.
After anointing and baptizing Simon Charbel, Father Mouannes encouraged the baby’s parents and godparents.
“This baptism is giving me a lot of joy and hope,” the priest said with a smile. “We have Simon. We have a new life. And we have someone who is ready to be a son of God. The sons of God can change the world. You have to help him so that he can cross into eternal life. And he will be one of these people in the future who will give a new face for Lebanon and for the whole world.”
Although he was not the celebrant for Mass the evening of the blast, Father Mouannes was sitting in a back pew. Only about 15 people were attending, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The church clock is since frozen at the time of the devastation: 6:08 p.m.
“I lived all through the (1975-1990) war. But nothing like this. It was huge,” the priest said. In all, the explosion killed more than 170 people and wounded more than 6,000. Some 300,000 people are homeless.
Father Mouannes recounted how he crouched and held his ears at the sound of the first blast.
“When I realized I was still alive, the first thing, I thanked God,” he said. “Then I started to check on all those in the church. “Thanks be to God, everyone’s life was saved.” And because Mass had begun a little bit late, the priest celebrating was not in the spot where glass and a concrete block came crashing down around the altar.
However, the people sitting in the first pews were injured, one woman very seriously.
“She couldn’t move, because everything fell down around her. We lifted her, and then she suffered for two hours before she could get to the hospital,” Father Mouannes recalled of the chaos in the affected Beirut neighborhoods following the blast. The woman had several broken ribs.
“I called her and she is now much better and out of the hospital,” the priest said.
Although the lives of those attending that Mass were spared, so far 12 parishioners have died from the blast. Father Mouannes has no idea how many have been injured.
The parish is continuing its outreach to the community, providing more than 150 hot meals from the basement parish center.
“If we don’t change our hearts, nothing will change” in Lebanon, stresses Father Mouannes.
Fueled by the detonation of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at the port, the disaster is also fueling the anger of the Lebanese, for whom this catastrophe illustrates once again the carelessness of a political class accused of corruption, incompetence and for causing the country’s economic crisis.
On Aug. 14, Maronite Bishop Paul Abdel Sater of Beirut concelebrated Mass in the street amid the destruction on a makeshift altar in front of Mar Mikhael Church for the intention of all the victims of the explosion. He was joined by the Vatican nuncio to Lebanon, Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, as well as Father Mouannes and several other priests. Surrounded by posters of four other Maronite churches damaged by the disaster, the altar was adorned with Mar Mikhael’s Blessed Mother statue.
Archbishop Sater pressed the political class in his homily: “Dear officials in my country, I want to know … Why did the explosion happen? How? And by whom? And will you be held accountable for the perpetrator?”
“Do you feel the people’s anger? Do you hear the cries of the bereaved mothers?” he asked.
Archbishop Spiteri told those present, “Today I assure you that His Holiness Pope Francis wept and continues to cry with you.”
“We demand justice and truth so that we can continue our civil and social path so that we rebuild Beirut, your city, and all the devastated regions,” he said.
The post At Beirut parish, signs of hope, demands for accountability after blast appeared first on Catholic News Service.
GROSSE ILE, Mich. (CNS) — Authorities found the body of Robert Chiles, 52, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Trenton, late Aug. 18 after a search of the Detroit River where he and Father Stephen Rooney, St. Joseph’s pastor, went missing Aug. 16 after their boat capsized.
Grosse Ile police said recovery efforts were continuing Aug. 19 for Father Rooney, 66.
Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Gerard W. Battersby, who led a prayer vigil the night of Aug. 17 at St. Joseph Church, expressed sympathy toward Chiles’ family members and friends at the news.
“With the Chiles family and the community of St. Joseph Parish, the Archdiocese of Detroit is deeply saddened at the news of the death of Robert Chiles,” Bishop Battersby said. “We ask for prayers for the Chiles family and for the repose of Robert’s soul. May he rest in the arms of his gentle Savior.”
Police believe the accident occurred when Chiles, who owned the 39-foot speedboat, turned and hit a strong wake, flipping the watercraft and sending its 14 passengers overboard.
A passing boat from Ontario rescued most of those on board, including seven children, but Chiles and Father Rooney remained missing. Among those rescued were Msgr. Charles Kosanke, rector of Detroit’s Basilica of Ste. Anne, and Chiles’ three children.
According to friends at the prayer vigil, Father Rooney had befriended Chiles, president of Alta Equipment Group Inc. in Livonia, after the funeral of Chiles’ wife, Christine, whose body was found last September in the Detroit River.
Friends and family spoke glowingly of the two men Monday night, saying the two shared a welcoming personality and gave of themselves generously.
“To be treated with the gift of hospitality by Father Rooney is to be treated truly like an honored guest,” said friend and fellow pastor Father Marc Gawronski of Sacred Heart Parish on Grosse Ile, near where the crash took place.
Likewise, “the welcome one receives at the homes of the Chiles family … is a place where love is shared in a courageous and joyful way,” Father Gawronski told Detroit Catholic, the online news outlet of the Archdiocese of Detroit. “Wherever we are, as followers of Jesus, we have men like Father Rooney and Rob and his family, people who prepare a place for another.”
Funeral details for Chiles, who leaves behind three children, have not yet been set.
At the Aug. 17 vigil, about 300 friends, parishioners, family and others gathered in St. Joseph’s parking lot, many wearing masks because of COVID-19, sharing in their sorrows and trying to peel away updates or news, even as the miracle for which many prayed seemed increasingly unlikely.
Bishop Battersby struggled to find the words as he led the impromptu prayer service.
“We come together with heavy hearts, but not as a people with no hope,” he said. “Even this moment is caught up in the Resurrection, and Jesus is Lord. In this testing, the pain we’re feeling, we are giving witness that Jesus is at the right hand of God, gathered in the presence of his mother and all the saints, praying for Father Stephen Rooney and Mr. Rob Chiles.”
During the prayer vigil, clergy from the Downriver area reflected upon a passage from John’s Gospel, in which Jesus tells the apostles he is going to “prepare a place” for them.
As musicians played hymns and people grieved and comforted one another, Margaret Beaudry Comer told Detroit Catholic that she wants people to know Father Rooney “was the best.”
“He exuded Jesus, his soul, his life, his light,” Comer said. “I’m not from the parish, but he was with our family at my mother’s funeral at Our Lady of Mount Carmel (in Wyandotte). When he came to family reunions, birthday parties, my mother’s house, he was all about love and acceptance and giving his time and love. He just made you feel comfortable, enjoying life and putting God first.”
Father Rooney, 66, was born in Belfast, Ireland, and was ordained a priest for the Cistercian order in 1985, becoming incardinated into the Archdiocese of Detroit in 1990.
He served assignments at seven parishes around the archdiocese and in 2018 became pastor of St. Joseph Parish. He was a frequent guest in the classrooms of St. Joseph School, known for his good humor and captivating Irish brogue.
After the vigil, Bishop Battersby and support staff from the archdiocesan chancery stayed to answer questions and counsel parishioners. The bishop was scheduled to take over pastoral responsibilities at St. Joseph for the Aug. 22-23 weekend.
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Detroit Catholic is the online news outlet of the Archdiocese of Detroit. Contributing to this story was staff writer Daniel Meloy.
The post Body of missing parishioner found in Detroit River; search continues for priest appeared first on Catholic News Service.
BAABDA, Lebanon (CNS) — U.S. Daughter of Charity Sister Ann Sauvé, a member of the administrative staff at the order’s Sacred Heart Hospital in this Beirut suburb, will not easily forget Aug. 4 and the massive explosion in the port of Beirut.
“I can still recall a mass of people sitting or lying on stretchers — sometimes even on the floor — waiting patiently for their turn, not really asking for anything, without complaints, and perhaps not even knowing if they still had a home, or, in some cases, if they had lost a family member,” Sister Ann told Catholic News Service.
“We cared for them as efficiently as possible, but it took time and many had to wait for their turn. When they were able to leave after receiving the necessary care, it was always with a quiet and sincere ‘thank you.’ The next day, visiting them in their hospital room, it was again their thanks that we heard, despite their shock and their suffering. … an experience I will never forget,” said Sister Ann, who has served in the Middle East since 1976, most of the time in Lebanon, but also in Egypt and Jerusalem.
The hospital received about 200 people in its emergency room that night. The explosion killed more than 170 people and wounded more than 6,000.
“At the hospital, medical corps, administration, maintenance, pharmacy, technicians worked together calmly and as peacefully as possible, each giving their best. We were so touched by the messages that came in from nearly all over the world: people sharing their grief with us and assuring us of their prayers,” Sister Ann said.
One of the victims of the blast was 76-year-old Daughter of Charity Sister Sophie Khosrovian, who was from Iran.
“Toward the beginning of the evening, someone told me that Sister Sophie was wounded. The emergency room at that time was very crowded, and I could not find her. Then someone informed me that her condition was very critical, she had been intubated and sent immediately to the Intensive Care Unit. But Sister Sophie did not respond to resuscitative efforts and died of her injuries about three hours after her admission,” Sister Ann said.
“Sister Sophie was quiet, gentle, and kind, easy to approach, with a ready smile. She was always there when you needed someone. We will miss her,” said Sister Ann.
Sister Sophie was at the order’s Immaculate Conception School near the port at the time of the blast. She had been a teacher, specializing in prekindergarten and kindergarten. No children were there at the time of the explosion, shortly after 6 p.m.
Immaculate Conception was just one of the five schools near the port run by the Daughters of Charity. All were damaged.
The order’s members “have been busy trying to get funding not only for our own schools, but for all of the Catholic-Christian schools in the area,” said Sister Ann. “They are also trying to work out an education plan for distance learning as surely COVID will not permit opening in September. They must work to see about getting computers and internet into the homes of the poorer children.”
Overall, the economic crisis in Lebanon is “tremendous,” said Sister Ann.
“Even before COVID, people were suffering from galloping inflation, banking restrictions, unemployment — because of the economic collapse.” With the COVID-19 lockdown, “what was left of economic activity disappeared. Everyone agrees that there needs to be an immediate infusion of funding for repairs, and to feed the nearly 50% of the population that are living at or under the poverty level. But there also needs to be structural changes — political and economic — to be able to function in the long run,” she said.
“The Lebanese in general are very ‘life-loving’ people, and their situation now can be summed up in the word ‘suffering,’” Sister Ann said.
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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Church teaching on giving priority to the well-being of the poor and marginalized is not a political or ideological choice; it lies at the very heart of the Gospel, Pope Francis said.
The preferential option for the poor, which includes feeding the hungry and drawing close to the excluded, “is the key criterion of Christian authenticity,” he said Aug. 19 during his weekly general audience.
The principle also would include making sure that any vaccine developed for the novel coronavirus helps everyone, he added.
“It would be sad,” he said, if priority for a vaccine “were to be given to the richest. It would be sad if this vaccine were to become the property of this nation or another, rather than universal and for all.”
During his audience, livestreamed from the library of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis continued a series of talks on the principles of the church’s social doctrine as a guide for healing and building a better future, particularly as the world is struggling with a pandemic and its negative effects.
In fact, he said, a proper response to the pandemic is two-fold:
“On the one hand, it is essential to find a cure for this small but terrible virus, which has brought the whole world to its knees. On the other, we must also cure a larger virus, that of social injustice, inequality of opportunity, marginalization and the lack of protection for the weakest.”
“It would be a scandal if all of the economic assistance we are observing — most of it with public money — were to focus on rescuing those industries that do not contribute to the inclusion of the excluded, the promotion of the least, the common good or the care of creation,” the pope said.
These are the four criteria that should be used “for choosing which industries should be helped: those which contribute to the inclusion of the excluded, to the promotion of the least, to the common good and the care of creation.”
Pope Francis said the COVID-19 pandemic “has exposed the plight of the poor and the great inequality that reigns in the world” and it has made those inequalities and discrimination even worse.
One of the responses that must not be missing is the preferential option for the poor, he said.
This key element of the church’s social teaching “is not a political option, nor is it an ideological option,” he said; it is “at the center of the Gospel.”
Jesus “stood among the sick, the poor, the excluded, showing them God’s merciful love,” he said.
The preferential option for the poor is a duty for all Christians and communities, he said, and it means doing more than providing needed assistance; it requires remedying the root causes and problems that lead to the need for aid.
“Many people want to return to normality” and get back to business, the pope said, but this “normality” must not entail ongoing social injustice and the degradation of the environment.
“The pandemic is a crisis, and we do not emerge from a crisis the same as before: either we come out of it better or we come out of it worse,” he said. “We must come out of it better” and build something different.
The world needs an economy and remedies that do not “poison society, such as profits not linked to the creation of dignified jobs,” but rather profits that benefit the general public.
“We must act now to heal the epidemics caused by small, invisible viruses and to heal those caused by the great and visible social injustices,” he said.
By “starting from the love of God, placing the peripheries at the center and the last in first place,” he said, “a healthier world will be possible.”
Recovering from the pandemic will require action rooted in tangible love, “anchored in hope and founded in faith,” he said, “otherwise, we will come out of the crisis worse.”
The pope concluded by praying, “May the Lord help us and give us the strength to come out of it better, responding to the needs of today’s world.”
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