Archives for August 2010

Right to Believe Petition Defends Religious Freedom

“More than 20,000 people have signed a petition expressing support for millions of believers around the world who are denied the right to practice their faith.

The Right to Believe petition has been launched by Open Doors, which supports persecuted Christians worldwide.

It opposes efforts by an Islamic organisation to win the right for governments to choose which religious views are permissable in their country.

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is again introducing the Defamation of Religions Resolution in the United Nations this year.

Open Doors believes the terms of the resolution impose substantial limits on the freedom of individuals to express their religious beliefs. It would also criminalise defamation of a particular religion, but Islam in particular.

The organisation said that persecuted Christians were looking to believers in countries with religious liberty to “walk with them … on our knees in prayer and on our feet in action”.

A similar resolution by the OIC was adopted by the UN last year amid fierce opposition from rights groups but Open Doors believes that the resolution could be defeated this year if opposition is strong enough.” – “Thousands Sign Right To Believe Petition”, Christian Today

This posting on Christian Today was something I thought was worth sharing with everybody. Somebody needed to stand up and oppose the Islamic group that is trying to combine church and state. This is a basic principle that really should not even need to be defended in my opinion, but none the less there is an Islamic group who is attempting to give government power to determine it’s citizens’ religion. The thought of that is horrific. Christians in the Middle East are already facing enough controversy without talks like this going on.

Max Millar Related to Mary MacKillop

“Baby Max Millar is a first cousin to Mary MacKillop five times removed. He is also a miracle baby who survived a critical period in the initial weeks of his life.

Delivered amost two weeks late, Max wasn’t breathing at birth and his major organs had been starved of oxygen during the birth, said a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

He was resuscitated and placed on a ventilator in an incubator. But medical staff feared that if he survived, he might have severe brain damage. Eleven days later an MRI brain scan showed there was no damage.

His grandmother, Marion Millar, said: ”I was praying, all my friends were praying, and we believe his life was saved. Max is a miracle baby.”

Max’s mother, Rachel, 37, said: ”He is certainly a very lucky baby to be alive. When we were told the brain scan was fine, we were just really surprised – we were told he could well have had a significant disability.”

Max, now 14 months old, had suffered from meconium aspiration syndrome, a leading cause of severe illness and death in newborn babies.

The relationship to Mary MacKillop was unravelled by Ancestry.com.au for The Sun-Herald. A closer relative is unlikely to be found, given that Blessed Mary’s seven siblings did not have children.” – “Miracle Baby Max is Related to Mary MacKillop”, CathNews

This post from CathNews.com was a very interesting one for several reasons. If you remember, I wrote about Mary MacKillop recently in another post because she is having a History Channel documentary made about her life. Well Max Millar, a fourteen month old child, has been found to be distant relative of Mary’s. While this is strange enough for most, it goes further. Max had terrible complications with his birth, and nearly died. He survived though, and had no damage done to him by the struggle for his life. This is truly a wonderful story!

Celebration for Saint Rocco

This post from SILive.com was really great to read. The story below tells of a child healed of bacterial meningitis in what many are calling a miracle due to none other than Saint Rocco. He is now fully healed and about to celebrate his fifth birthday. This is truly an amazing story that is worth reading so take a few minutes of your day and read it now!

“More than any other patron saint, St. Rocco is the favorite of Westerleigh resident Louise Fiorello. It’s personal.

Every August for the last 15 years, she’s attended the annual Feast of St. Rocco in Lower Manhattan and admired the healing energy of the saint cloaked in miracles. Mrs. Fiorello loves joining with the hundreds of people in the three-hour procession as the band plays and money is pinned to his statue.

About five years ago, when her infant grandson came down with bacterial meningitis, Mrs. Fiorello’s devotion to St. Rocco became even more personal and profound. The 5-month-old was given little hope of survival by doctors in two hospitals where he received care. His eye was swollen shut. Mrs Fiorello and her family prayed to St. Rocco.

“My grandson had a miracle,” said Mrs. Fiorello. “After the prayers of St. Rocco, the eye was opened for the first time.”

That baby, Salvatore, continued to heal and recently celebrated his fifth birthday. He will be among the crew leaving Westerleigh and heading to little Italy next week for the annual Feast of St. Rocco.” – “Feast of St. Rocco to be Held Aug.22”, SI Live.com

New Catholic Childrens Books to Release This Fall

I was delighted to read this posting on EWTN.com this morning and hear of their plans to get children more aware of prayers and church stories. We need something that will begin to bring younger ones back to the Church and these books seem like a good idea. Hopefully these books will be as colorful and fun as the article below makes them out to be because if they really are I think kids will love them. They will enjoy the pictures and be taught lessons from the Bible, and pick up knowledge about saints and prayers all at the same time! I think this could be a real win for the Catholic Church.

“Ignatius Press announced on Monday that they are launching a collection of illustrated Catholic books for children, with the first eight to be released in October 2010.

The company has partnered with Magnificat in publishing a series of Catholic books that will “capture the imagination of children of various ages through delightful full-color illustrations, exciting stories from the Bible and lives of the saints, and simple yet powerful prayers,” read a press release on Aug. 16.

Ignatius decided to republish the books in the U.S. after viewing Magnificat’s children’s books that had been released in France. Magnificat is known for its pocket-sized devotional books featuring daily Mass readings, meditations and prayers in editions created for both adults and children.

Among the books that will be released this fall are two hardcover titles, “John Mary Vianney: The Holy Cure of Ars” and “Bernadette: The Little Girl from Lourdes,” which are intended for older children. Three sturdy books for younger children will also be published, including “My First Prayers for My Family,” “My First Prayers for Christmas,” and “The Bible for Little Ones.” Two comic book style titles will include, “The Adventures of Lupio, Volume 1: The Adventures and Other Stories,” and “The Illustrated Gospel for Children.” Additionally, the first volume in a series of coloring books titled, “Pictures from the Gospels: A Coloring Book,” will be released.

“Ignatius Press is honored and excited to be working with Magnificat to publish this new line of such high quality, beautifully designed Catholic books for children that have that wonderful combination of inspiring, informative text with such lovely artwork,” said Anthony Ryan, marketing director for Ignatius Press.” – “Ignatius Press Launches Illustrated Catholic Books for Children”, EWTN.com

Denver Catholic Schools Fight to Remain Open

“Five Catholic elementary schools at risk of losing Archdiocese of Denver funding will remain open and receive financial support this coming school year.

School Superintendent Richard Thompson said all five will receive some level of aid because their efforts to boost enrollment and raise funds “showed promise” enough for the archdiocese to help out one more year.

The schools have planted seeds to become financially self-sufficient but requested time to see them take root, Thompson said.

“They all worked very, very hard,” he said. “People on the fence stepped forward to help. The schools showed enough tangible results we hated to see that clipped. We wanted to partner with them.”

Two of the five schools on the chopping block were Presentation of Our Lady and St. Catherine of Siena. The other three schools have chosen not to release information to the general public about their financial issues, and so the archdiocese will not disclose their identities.

Presentation of Our Lady pastor Ed Poehlmann said he has been heartened by the support of the Catholic community and beyond in keeping his school open for a new year, which begins Monday. A golf tournament over the weekend raised $20,000 for the school, he said.

“We’re doing a lot better,” Poehlmann said.

Thompson said preserving the schools for another year was good news, yet he remained guarded about long-term prospects given recent patterns of lower charitable contributions and declining enrollments.” – “Five Denver Catholic Schools Survive Financial Straits to Stay Open”, DenverPost.com

This article from The Denver Post is a topic that has come up in almost all areas of the US recently. A lot of Catholic schools are struggling to remain open because of smaller numbers of students enrolling. This is to be expected when there is public education available, and Catholic schooling costs extra. Catholic schools can be quite costly, but it is my thinking that they are truly worth the extra money it costs. More schools should begin doing fundraisers such as the golf outing discussed above. This is one of the ways these schools can make a push to remain open. If you would like to read the full text of the article, click here.

Pope Will See Performance by Susan Boyle in Scotland

This article from Catholic News Agency was a surprise to me, but a pleasant one. I had no idea that Susan Boyle would be singing for Pope Benedict this fall when he will be in the UK. This is great because Boyle is obviously a wonderful vocalist, and it makes sense because she gained her start in music singing in her Scottish churches choir. It will be good to see a Catholic performing for the Pope, I mean it only makes sense right?

“The surprise music sensation Susan Boyle will sing for Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the U.K., a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland has confirmed. Boyle will be joined by music star Michelle McManus, who is already scheduled to sing before the Papal Mass in Glasgow.

Responding to an inquiry from CNA, Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office (SCMO), said on Wednesday, “Susan will sing.”

He added that organizers hope to release more details at the beginning of next week.

Boyle, a middle-aged Scottish woman who sang in her Catholic parish’s choir for decades, became a sensation after her appearance on a British talent show. While the show’s audience reacted with hostility to her plain-looking appearance at first, they cheered with deep appreciation after her high-caliber rendition of the song “I Dreamed a Dream.”

The singer’s first album has sold millions of copies.” – “Susan Boyle Will Sing for Pope During UK Visit”, Catholic News Agency

Diocese of Harrisburg Welcomes New Bishop

“The Most Rev. Joseph P. McFadden was installed as the 10th bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg on Wednesday in a 2 1/2 hour Mass in St. Patrick Cathedral, Harrisburg.

More than 1,000 people including three cardinals, 32 bishops, 250 priests, 46 deacons and hundreds of lay people attended the “Solemn Mass of Installation” in the ornate cathedral down the street from the state Capitol.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, metropolitan archbishop of Philadelphia, and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio or Vatican’s ambassador to the United States, presided over the installation ceremony. Cardinal John P. Foley, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, also attended.

The congregation had special applause for two past bishops of Harrisburg: Cardinal William H. Keeler, seventh bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and archbishop emeritus of Baltimore, and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, ninth bishop. Rhoades served in Harrisburg for five years before becoming bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese in January.

At the end of the Mass, McFadden turned to Keeler and Rhoades and said “you two are welcome home.”” – “New Bishop Installed as Head of Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg”, PennLive

This posting from PennLive.com is a very cool one to read about. It is always a great occasion to hear about when a new bishop is brought into a diocese. Bishop McFadden also paid respects to the former bishops of his diocese which is truly meaningful and great to see. The Saint Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg is also very beautiful, and if you have time I would suggest searching for images of it as it truly is amazing to behold.

Middle Eastern Television to Air Series on Mother Teresa

“Télé Lumière and Noursat, the only Catholic television and satellite network broadcast from the Middle East, has announced it will air a series of celebrations to honor Blessed Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday. A highlight of its coverage will be the installation of a nearly 10-foot-tall statue of the woman devoted to charity.

The statue will be erected in Sed El Bouchrieh, a city in the Fanar region of Lebanon, where the first Missionaries of Charity convent was established. Since 1979, Mother Teresa’s religious order has had a center in Fanar and another in Becharre.

In 1982 Mother Teresa visited Lebanon and transferred to safety about 50 orphans and disabled people who had been trapped by Israeli bombing.

The Fanar center hosts orphans or children rejected by their families because of their handicaps. It also hosts abandoned women who have no children to care for them.

The statue to be installed is close to 10 feet in height and stands on a on a 6.5-foot high platform. It shows Mother Teresa with a “comforting tender smile” and a “bright healing look,” Télé Lumière and Noursat reports.

Its creator is artist George Aoun, while Armenian engineer Sarkis Ohanian coated the work with bronze.” – “Middle East Broadcaster Plans Special Coverage to Honor Mother Teresa’s Birthday”, Catholic News Agency

This story from Catholic News Agency was great to hear about. I would never expect any Middle Eastern station to air anything about Mother Teresa, but I have been proven wrong! It appears as though the Middle East is okay with Mother Teresa, as well as the Peace Bridge on the Niagra River. However, the Empire State Building remains opposed to celebrating the great woman’s life. I am glad to see nearly everybody in the world realizes what a great woman Mother Teresa was.

Virgin Mary Appears Daily in Small Village

This story sounds quite intriguing and once I saw it on BBC.com I had to share it with everybody. If this is really true, this village has such a blessing. I can’t imagine an entire village being delusional and making something like this up either though. There will be a show tonight at 10:30 on BBC about the village so if you have a moment to watch it you certainly should. If you want to check out the trailer for this show, click here.

“For almost 30 years, the Virgin Mary has been said to appear daily in Medjugorje – a small village in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Six children first reported the apparition in June 1981, and although the Vatican has not yet recognised the miracle, it has not discouraged the faithful. The village is the fastest-growing Catholic pilgrimage site in the world.

Allan Little speaks to local people about the phenomenon, including a man who claims to see the Virgin Mary on a daily basis.

Watch Allan Little’s film in full on Newsnight on Wednesday 18 August 2010 at 10.30pm on BBC Two, then afterwards on the BBC iPlayer Newsnight website.” – “The Man Who ‘Sees’ Virgin Mary Every Day”, BBC

Saint of the Day

“The Saint of the Day for August 18 is St. Helena.

Empress mother of Constantine the Great. She was a native of Bithynia, who married the then Roman general Constantius I Chlorus about 270. Constantine was born soon after, and in 293, Constantius was made Caesar, or junior emperor. He divorced Helena to marry co Emperor Maximian’s stepdaughter. Constantine became emperor in 312 after the fateful victory at Milvian Bridge, and Helena was named Augusta, or empress. She converted to Christianity and performed many acts of charity, including building churches in Rome and in the Holy Land.

On a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Helena discovered the True Cross. She is believed to have died in Nicomedia. Her porphyry sarcophagus is in the Vatican Museum. Geoffrey of Monmouth, England, started the legend that Helena was the daughter of the king of Colchester, a tradition no longer upheld. In liturgical art Helena is depicted as an empress, holding a cross.” – “St. Helena”, A Catholic View

This post from A Catholic View celebrates the today as the feast day of Saint Helena. She was an amazing woman, especially for the time she lived in. She was the one who found the Relic of the True Cross, which was just re-found in Vermont! At one time she was married to Constantine, which a fun fact that not everybody knows. She is certainly an important patron saint and everybody should say a prayer to her today.