NEWS BRIEFS – OUR CHURCH – Aug. 17, 2017
Catholic News Service recently published the following news briefs on these topics: Parish embraces diversity; Ukrainian Catholic pilgrimage; U.S. Catholics mark Blessed Romero centennial; Vietnam and religious freedom; Maryknoll nun building bridges with China; Fostering vocations in China; and Communion rules in Nigeria.
Vatican envoy: Vietnam's government must respect religious freedom
LA VANG, Vietnam -- The Vatican envoy to Vietnam called on the Southeast Asian nation's communist government to respect religious freedom. Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the nonresident representative of the Vatican to Vietnam, presided at the Aug. 13 opening Mass of the Marian Congress, held at the national shrine of Our Lady of La Vang in central Vietnam's Quang Tri province. In his homily, Archbishop Girelli spoke of the state of religious freedom in the country, reported ucanews.com. "In some provinces, civil authorities are anxious and complain about the Catholics and their deeds," the archbishop said during Mass, where he was joined by Vietnamese bishops and some 200 priests. Archbishop Girelli advised the gathering on the wisdom of St. Peter's words: "We must obey God rather than men" and of Jesus' "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's. I would like to tell the Vietnamese Caesars to give to God what is God's," he said, to which the congregation responded with a large round of applause.
Indianapolis parish celebrates unity as a 'sign' of the times
INDIANAPOLIS -- Father Carlton Beever was on vacation in Virginia when the colorful yard sign caught his attention. Divided into three sections of green, blue and orange, the sign offered a message of unity in Spanish, English and Arabic -- a message of unity embraced in the English translation that declares, "No matter where you are from, we're glad you're our neighbor." As he absorbed that message, Father Beever felt it struck to the heart of the atmosphere of "acceptance, tolerance and welcome" that he believes marks St. Mary Parish in Indianapolis, the faith community he serves as pastor. After researching the origins of the yard sign, Father Beever returned from vacation and asked his parish council to approve buying 200 of them -- an approval that came quickly. "We're in a very diverse area -- downtown," Father Beever told The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. "More and more people are coming from different backgrounds and countries. We've had a strong Hispanic presence, and there are people from Korea, Japan, China, Nigeria, Holland and Poland.
Pennsylvania town a memory, but thriving church is site of pilgrimage
CENTRALIA, Pa. -- The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church sits on a serene Pennsylvania mountain and overlooks the abandoned, desolate borough of Centralia. The town is a memory, but the church still serves a thriving parish family, with congregants driving to the hilltop on Sundays and holy days from communities throughout the area. The church and the grounds surrounding it will be the site of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia's holy pilgrimage Aug. 27, the eve of the feast of the Dormition of the Holy Mother of God. The pilgrimage begins at noon with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy with Archbishop Stefan Soroka, head of the Philadelphia archeparchy and the metropolitan of U.S. Ukrainian Catholics in the United States. The homilist will be Father John M. Fields, an archpriest of the archeparchy. After the Divine Liturgy, a procession will take place from the church with a replica of the Icon of Our Lady of Pochaiv, where it will be placed in the outside chapel.
Expat Salvadorans in U.S. mark Blessed Oscar Romero's 100th birthday
WASHINGTON -- Washington resident Berta Quintanilla said her toddler had always asked about the bespectacled older man whose photo he often saw at home and sometimes at church events. "He wanted to know about him, who he was," said Quintanilla. Because of the violent manner in which he died in 1980 -- shot to death while celebrating Mass -- it was difficult to explain the entire story of Blessed Oscar Romero to young Esau Cruz, now 6, but little by little, Quintanilla, began to teach him: He was a bit like Jesus. "He died for us," and "he didn't like injustice," she explained to him. Quintanilla, who was born in El Salvador, took Esau Aug. 15 to their Washington parish, the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, where parishioners shared cake in honor of Blessed Romero after the feast of the Assumption Mass, which fell on what would have been the Salvadoran archbishop's 100th birthday. Around the country, including in Dallas and Los Angeles, parishes remembered the beloved archbishop. "One hundred years after his birth, Blessed Oscar Romero still inspires us for his humility and courage -- for his love for the poor and his witness of solidarity and service to others, even to the point of laying down his life," said Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez in an Aug. 13 homily during a Mass celebrating the birth of the Salvadoran archbishop.
Maryknoll nun receives Matteo Ricci Award for building bridges with China
JAMAICA, N.Y. -- Maryknoll Sister Janet Carroll, founding executive director of the U. S. Catholic China Bureau, was the recipient of the organization's 2017 Matteo Ricci Award, an honor bestowed upon people who best exemplify the bureau's mission to build a bridge of friendship and service between the Catholic Church in the U.S. and China. The award, named for the 16th-century Jesuit missionary to China, was presented to Sister Janet at a banquet Aug. 12 during the China bureau's 27th biennial national conference at St. John's University. Sister Janet, a New York City native and a member of the Maryknoll order for more than six decades, has led 11 bureau-sponsored study tours to China. She resides at the community's motherhouse in New York's Westchester County, where she remains active as an adviser and mentor with Maryknoll's Chinese Seminary Teachers and Formators Project, a program that helps train Chinese priests and women religious for leadership roles. In his remarks at the banquet, Tom McGuire, chairman of the board for the bureau, cited Sister Janet's "faithful work as a missionary disciple" and lauded her efforts in establishing the bureau in 1989. "Her knowledge of the Chinese language, culture and history, joined with her education in international relations, created a dynamic United States Catholic China Bureau," said McGuire. "It has provided strong initiatives to the programs for educating people in the United States and building bridges of friendship with the people in China."
Biggest challenge for Chinese Church? Fostering vocations, speakers say
JAMAICA, N.Y. -- Fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life is the "biggest challenge" for the Catholic Church in China, said Passionist Father Robert E. Carbonneau, executive director of the U.S. Catholic China Bureau. "The whole society is becoming more materialistic," said Father Carbonneau, adding that "many options" have opened up for young people. Vocations and the ongoing formation of priests were among the topics presented when scholars, educators, clergy, religious and missioners with expertise on Catholicism in China gathered Aug. 11-13 for the China Bureau's 27th biennial national conference at St. John's University in the New York borough of Queens. This year's conference, which focused on the theme "Experience of the Chinese Church in the 21st Century," featured sessions on globalization, evangelization, spirituality, social outreach and eco-theology. Secularism, consumerism and smaller family units are among the factors that have contributed to the decline in vocations in the past decade, experts said. "Modernity is coming into China like a fast train," said Columban Father Tommy Murphy, a priest from County Mayo, Ireland, who has been a spiritual director at the national seminary in Beijing for four years.
Nigerian cardinal says pressure to change Communion rules is unfortunate
JASIKAN, Ghana -- Pope Francis did not change Church teaching on the rules for receiving Communion, but rather assured people who are in difficult situations that the Church cares for them and the mercy of God extends to them, a Nigerian cardinal said. Nigerian Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, speaking at Ghana's National Eucharistic Congress in Jasikan Aug. 11, said it was unfortunate that pressure has mounted on the Catholic Church in some places to relax the rules about the reception of holy Communion. Such pressure, he said, can be seen in efforts to allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion without an annulment of their marriage or without abstaining from sexual relations with their new partners. The age-old principles of the unity and indissolubility of marriage cannot be compromised to accommodate "modern trends," he said. "In a world going down the drain through widespread moral laxity, the Church of God cannot abdicate her responsibility to uphold the high standards of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ," Cardinal Onaiyekan told Catholics gathered for the congress.