Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 31

1. Thousands of people across the United States will be welcomed into the Catholic Church at this year’s Easter vigil, April 4, including a retired Marine captain who appeared on the cover of National Geographic, a woman from The Gambia now living in the Pacific Northwest and a woman from Pittsburgh whose faith journey has drawn her own mother back to the Church.

2. Catholic News Service looks at the journey of some of the people joining the Catholic Church.

3. Pope Francis has named Father George D. Gallaro, 67, a priest of the Melkite Eparchy of Newton, Massachusetts, as bishop of the Byzantine Eparchy of Piano degli Albanesi in Palermo, Italy. Father Gallaro currently serves as professor of Canon Law at St. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Seminary in Pittsburgh and as judicial vicar of the Byzantine Archeparchy of Pittsburgh.

4. Pope Francis has been tweeting throughout Holy Week, including today's entry:

5. God loves you.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 30

1. Pope Francis led Palm Sunday Mass and started Holy Week in Rome.

Pope Francis' advice for Holy Week
A subdued #PopeFrancis preaches on the meaning of Palm Sunday and Holy Week -- including the importance of humility -- at Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
Posted by Catholic News Service on Monday, March 30, 2015

2. Thomas Awiapo shares his story of how a school in Ghana, supported by CRS Rice Bowl, changed his life forever.

3. The 2015 annual Catholic Home Missions Appeal will be taken up in many dioceses the weekend of April 25-26. This appeal helps to sustain nearly 45 percent of all dioceses and eparchies in rural, struggling areas in the country and in a number of U.S. territories in the Caribbean and Pacific.

4. If your Lenten journey has been difficult, remember that it’s meant to be that way. Giving of ourselves in the midst of our suffering and self-denial brings us closer to loving like Christ, who suffered and poured himself out unconditionally on the Cross for all of us.

5. God loves you.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 27

1. Pope Francis greeted people who are homeless yesterday at the Sistine Chapel, telling them, "this is the home of all; it is your home. The doors are always open for everyone. "

2. A software engineer working on a 4G network but felt the call to service to the Church? It happens. See Sister Maria Jose Acosta's story.

3. Today, we pray for teenage parents, that they might received the care they need and that God might strengthen them.

4. Sunday is Palm Sunday, which begins Holy Week in the Catholic Church. Read this reflection on Palm Sunday, written by Mar Munoz-Visoso.

5. God loves you

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 26

1.The White House confirmed today, through press secretary Josh Earnest, that Pope Francis will visit President Obama and the First Lady there during his trip to the U.S. in September The White House said, "During the visit, the President and the Pope will continue the dialogue, which they began during the President’s visit to the Vatican in March 2014, on their shared values and commitments on a wide range of issues, including caring for the marginalized and the poor; advancing economic opportunity for all; serving as good stewards of the environment; protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom around the world; and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities. The President looks forward to continuing this conversation with the Holy Father during his first visit to the United States as Pope."

2. Later this year, Pope Francis will lead the Synod on the Family. Join in prayer for the Synod in both English and Spanish. He said yesterday that prayer, not gossip, is needed.

3. Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, and Bishop James A. Tamayo will join faith in visiting families at Dilley Detention Center , a consultant for USCCB Committee on Migration Last year, more than 68,000 families from Central America fled violence in their home countries. Many are being detained in order to deter further migration, causing them more trauma and emotional pain. These families can be released into alternative to detention programs which provide them case management and community support, a more humane option. The faith leaders will highlight these concerns and call upon the U.S. government to halt the practice of family detention. Follow their journey on Twitter at @USCCBLive and with the hashtags #EndFamilyDetention and #Catholic

4. In case you missed it, the Vatican Television Center has released information for broadcasters regarding worldwide telecasts of events presided over by Pope Francis in Holy Week and Easter. All times are UTC/GMT (Coordinate Universal Time/Greenwich Mean Time).
5. God loves you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

50 Years After Selma to Montgomery, We Must March On

 By Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz

“If we do not walk together, if we do not pray for one another, if we do not collaborate in the many ways that we can in this world for the people of God, then unity will not come about.” –Pope Francis, from January 25th, 2014, Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

As we gather at St. Jude Parish to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 Civil Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, we are flooded with vivid memories. We must never forget the images associated with this historic march. They are pictures of men and women standing as still as stone against a coming rush of violent resistance during the first attempt to march. They are images of solidarity, of complete strangers coming together all along the way for a noble purpose, at times literally binding up one another’s wounds. As with St. Jude, we see compassionate souls creating space for rest and hospitality for the weary when many others would not take the risk.

What we beheld in the Selma to Montgomery March shed needed light on the toll of racism, and, for many, put a human face on those impacted by its evils. The perseverance, sacrifice and peaceful witness against violence we recall today moved a nation to earnestly seek to heal divisions within the human family. Selma marked a turning point in the national conscience and conversation.

Today, we honor the sacrifice of many brave and often unnamed heroes—most of deep faith, including a number of Catholics—who worked for years to ensure equal access to the benefits of democracy, benefits that include the right to vote and fully participate in the processes that safeguard the common good. Those who marched did so as part of a poignant chapter in a long struggle.

We recognize the significant progress that has been made against the scourge of racism following the dramatic events of 1965. Because of the very real sacrifices of so many like those who participated in this march, real and lasting change has taken root in our country and we are better for it. There is still much to be done in fully transforming hearts and minds; let us use the energy of this anniversary to finish the work of healing divisions that remain and ending the cycles of violence that grip too many of our communities. With firm faith and trust in a gracious and loving God, we must march on.


Archbishop Kurtz delivered these remarks in Selma, Alabama March 24, 2015. He is president of the USCCB and archbishop of Louisville.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 24

1. CBS' 60 Minutes profiled Christians persecuted by Isis in Iraq in an emotional story. The U.S. Bishops recently called for prayer for those persecuted for their faith.

2. Did you know that in the Diocese of Fairbanks some parishes are only accessible by boat? Watch this video to learn more about how Catholic Home Mission Collection assists those in need.

3. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop-Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Washington, said Pope Francis "tells it like it is, because he wants people to hear it as it truly is."

4. How does a Harvard-educated woman decide to pursue the religious life? Sister Ann Kateri Hamm explains her journey.

5. God loves you.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 23.

1. In case you missed it, the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA) and the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA), the Council of the District of Columbia ran afoul of federal law and constitutional principles, says a letter sent to Congress by six members of the USCCB on March 20. The bishops are asking Congress to rescind these two pieces of legislation.

2. Major League Baseball players spend nearly two months in spring training. So, how do Catholic players address their spiritual needs? Catholic Athletes for Christ helps out and players say they are grateful. Watch this video as well:

3. Pope Francis said that where there is no mercy, there is no justice.

4. Join Cardinals Jean-Louis Tauran and Kurt Koch from the Vatican, along with other Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim scholars, at the Catholic University of America, May 19 through 21, to commemorate the legacy of Nostra Aetate, Vatican II's declaration onnon-Christian religions.

5. God loves you.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 20

1. Pope Francis says no crime deserves the death penalty.

2. Archbishop Jose Gomez wrote in a column that it is time to end the death penalty, adding, "As a nation and as a society, our justice must be tempered with mercy or we risk losing something of our own humanity."

3. Nebraska and Kansas bishops have made similar calls this last week. Kansas' bishops said, "As more Americans, especially young adults, identify as pro-life, our consciences call us to uphold a consistent life ethic by opposing all threats to human life including the death penalty. We are the pro-life generation and this belief informs the way we approach life issues."

4. View all of the USCCB resources on the death penalty.

5. God loves you.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 19

1. Pope Francis condemned the attack in Tunisia as, “[An act] against peace and the sacredness of human life.”

2. Catholic News Service photographer Paul Haring details how he got the shots needed the night Pope Francis was elected.

3. Join Cardinals Jean-Louis Tauran and Kurt Koch from the Vatican, along with other Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim scholars, at The Catholic University of America, May 19 through 21, to commemorate the legacy of Nostra Aetate, Vatican II's declaration on non-Christian religions.

4. Check out how two children in Baltimore are making CRS Rice Bowl meals for their family each week during Lent. Watch a video as well.

5. God loves you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 18

1. Pope Francis says society is judged by how it treats children.

2. Catholic News Service looks at how the Catholic Church has long been helping the immigrant.

3. Bishop Paul Loverde, of Arlington, often shares message of faith and encouragement on his Twitter.
4. Know someone who hasn't been to Confession in a while. Share this with them. It might help.

5. God loves you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 17

1. Pope Francis said churches must open the door to those worn down by life and mistakes.

2. St. Patrick, the apostle to Ireland, once wrote: "Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me." He was captured and sold into slavery in Ireland as a teenager. He escaped, but he dreamed Ireland's children were calling to him, and returned to Ireland as a missionary. Learn more about the saints during the Lenten season.

3. Catholic News Service explores the facts and myths about St. Patrick.

4. Nominations for the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award are now being accepted.

5. God loves you.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 16

1. Pope Francis condemned the attacks on Pakistan's Christians which took place during the weekend. The USCCB's administrative committee last week called for prayer amidst recent religious persecution and violence.

2. Indiana bishops wrote a pastoral letter on poverty for their state because, "We want to call attention to the poverty that exists right here within the state that calls itself the 'Crossroads of America.' We hope to help all of us better understand the many challenges facing our brothers and sisters here in Indiana and consider with you how our Church should respond."

3. It's not too late to use our Lenten calendar to help you on your journey.

4. Pope Francis said that society needs good, well-paid teachers.
5. God loves you.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 13

1. Today is the second anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. See how people are sharing their enthusiasm for him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

2. A Catholic News Service graphic breaks down what Pope Francis talked about in his second year. They also produced this brief video of his first two years.

3. This weekend, parishes across the country will take up the Catholic Relief Services Collection. Funds from the collection go directly to support our suffering brothers and sisters around the world.

4. Pope Francis has called for 24 hours for the Lord today.

5. God loves you.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 12

1. This morning, it was announced Pope Francis has named Bishop Thomas A. Daly, 54, as bishop of Spokane, Washington, and Conventual Franciscan Father John Stowe, 48, as bishop of Lexington, Kentucky. Bishop Daly has served as auxiliary bishop of San Jose, California, since 2011. Bishop-elect Stowe is vicar provincial of the Conventual Franciscan Province of Our Lady of Consolation, Mount St. Francis, Indiana, and rector of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio. Read more about both bishops.

2. Bishop Oscar Cantú testified before Congress yesterday on religious persecution, saying, "Near the conclusion of my visit to Iraq, Bishop Warduni thanked us for coming and demonstrating solidarity with the people and Church of Iraq at this time of persecution and conflict. He promised that they would not forget us. With the images of destitute refugees and displaced families seared into my memory, I cannot forget those suffering religious persecution in the Middle East. Neither should our nation."

3. Hearing Confession is a source of grace for priests as Catholic News Service shows.

4. Do you know a faithful Catholic between the ages 18-40 who is actively engaged in work on the local or national level to break the cycle of poverty in the United States? Help us to honor young social justice leaders by submitting a nomination for the 2015 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award. This annual award is given by the USCCB/Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Consider Catholic young adults leading efforts to address problems in their local communities, working with social justice organizations, or leading social concerns efforts on college campuses. The award recipient will be given a cash award at a reception held in conjunction with the June meeting of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in St. Louis, Mo. Nomination forms can be downloaded here. If you have questions please email Genevieve Mougey at gmougey@usccb.org . Deadline is March 30.

5. God loves you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 11

1. People of all faiths are called to pray forvictims of religious persecution and violence and work to protect the marginalized and persecuted around the world, according to a statement of the Administrative Committee of the U.S. bishops, approved March 10. The bishops said Lent is a time for prayerfully reflecting on suffering. Catholic News Service also spoke with Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the USCCB, about this effort. Watch:

2. Pope Francis will visit inmates and staff of a Rome prison on Holy Thursday, April 2. The Prefecture of the Papal Household reports that the Pope will visit the new complex of the Casa Circondariale Rebibbia in the Rome suburbs, and celebrate the liturgy of the Lord’s Supper at the “Padre Nostro” church at 5:30 pm Rome time. The Pope will wash the feet of a group of male prisoners and female inmates from the nearby women’s penitentiary.

3. We are about halfway through Lent. People are filling up their Rice Bowls. Learn more.

4. Have you seen our How to Guide for Confession?

5. God loves you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 10

1. Pope Francis says God forgives and expects you to do the same.

2. Three chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gave strong support for the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2015. The Act would forbid the federal government, and any state receiving federal funds for child welfare services, from taking adverse action against a provider that, for religious or moral reasons, declines to provide a child welfare social service.

3. Have you ever wondered why Catholics go to Confession? Here's the answer.

4. In case you missed it: Matt Wilch looks at the Syrian refugee crisis in light of a recent report from the USCCB: Refuge and Hope in the Time of ISIS

5. God loves you.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Five Things To Remember On March 6

1. Did you know that half of Syrian refugees are children? In the just-released report, “Refuge and Hope in the Time of ISIS: The Urgent Need for Protection, Humanitarian Support, and Durable Solutions in Turkey, Bulgaria, and Greece,” USCCB Migration & Refugee Services officials detail what they learned in their late 2014 trip to the region and what they recommend going forward. Find out why there is hope.

2. Read this first-hand account about the Syrian refugees, which is a powerful read.

3. The Catholic Relief Services Collection, scheduled to take place March 14-15 in many dioceses across the United States, aids more than 100 million people around the world including those affected by persecution, war and natural disasters, through the six worldwide agencies it supports. The collection’s theme “Help Jesus in Disguise,” provides an opportunity to echo the gospel call to assist and accompany the poor.

4. Catholic News Services looks back at the life of Cardinal Edward Egan, who died yesterday.

5. God loves you.

Syrian Refugee Crisis at a Tipping Point: Refuge and Hope in the Time of ISIS

By Matt Wilch 

Our delegation from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on Migration drove down a dusty street in Kilis, a small city in southern Turkey. Syrian refugees were standing at street corners, in parks. They stood there with the clothes on their backs, children in tow, all looking shell-shocked and uncertain of what would come next. Most of the refugees in Kilis are Arab-speaking refugees who had fled from areas in and around Aleppo, Syria.

We travelled on to Sanilurfa, a nearby city that many associate with the patriarch Abraham. Many Syrian Kurds were pouring across the border just south of the city. They had just fled from relentless ISIS attacks in and around Kobane, Syria, just across the border. Some 130,000 members of this ethnic minority had fled from Syria since our arrival in Turkey two days before (an influx to southern Turkey that eventually rose to over 190,000).

Two days before we had arrived in northern Turkey, in the large city of Istanbul. Our delegation had met with a church full of Iraqi Christians who had fled from ISIS several months earlier. A community leader from a village near Mosul, Iraq, explained that with the Syria conflict spreading into Iraq, ISIS came to their village. They issued an ultimatum to Christians that they had to leave, pay a ransom for their Christian faith, or die. One of their fellow Christians publicly resisted ISIS, and the next day his severed head was found sitting in his doorway. Everyone fled after that.

These are among the many waves of refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict who are flooding into Turkey and other neighboring countries. With the conflict growing, Syrian refugees number over 1.65 million in Turkey and total over 3.8 million in all the neighboring host countries. The conflict continues to displace people by the tens of thousands—not only as a result of ISIS attacks but also because of ongoing attacks by the Syrian army.

Turkey and other refugee host countries are overwhelmed. Turkey, for example, initially thought it would be able to protect and care for refugees in camps, but the numbers have been so overwhelming that now only about 15 percent of refugees are able to live in camps. The rest live in towns and cities across Turkey, especially in the 12 provinces in southern Turkey and in Istanbul.

The problem is that even though this is an international refugee crisis, the international community is only providing funding to meet 29 percent of the refugees’ needs. With very little livelihood, refugees—especially those who recently arrived--struggle to secure adequate housing, food, and medical care. And many refugee children, instead of attending school, work at a quarter the minimum wage under poor working conditions to help support their families. Locals in the host communities are burdened as well by the forced migration’s heavy impact on community infrastructure and resources.

One consequence of the overwhelmed neighboring host countries is that thousands of refugees have begun to flee beyond the region. As our delegation travelled on, we met many Syrian and Iraqi refugees who were fleeing from Turkey through neighboring Bulgaria and Greece to northern Europe and beyond. They were often resorting to more and more dangerous sea journeys at the mercy of human smugglers, in their search for refuge.

The refugee crisis in Turkey and the region is at a tipping point.

There is an urgent need for the countries of Europe, the United States, and other concerned countries to even more generously step up and provide full funding to support these refugees and share with the host countries the burden of hosting them. Besides providing basic support for all the refugees, we urge especially careful attention to the needs and aspirations of the up to 2 million children fleeing from the Syrian conflict. Given half a chance, they are the most resilient of refugees, and the ones who will most determine the region’s future. A glimpse of some refugee children in a child centered program back in southern Turkey, illustrates this:

We stopped our car in front of a barren, treeless lot, in Kilis, and entered a white tent that was the size of a small rectangular house.

“The tent is more beautiful because you are in it,” came the greeting from a 6-year old Syrian boy (translated by a bi-lingual teacher) as our delegation entered a “child-friendly space” provided for him and other refugee children through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and implementing community partners. Guitar music came from a teacher sitting on a chair surrounded by a circle of children on the floor singing traditional, Syrian folk songs. Three smaller children played on the floor on the other side of the tent, stacking colorful blocks. It was an island of music and play in a sea of war and refugee flight. A place where children could be children, a place where resilience and hope can grow.

For more on the refugee crisis resulting from the Syrian conflict, see the assessment report by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS): Refuge and Hope in the Time of ISIS: The Urgent Need for Protection, Humanitarian Support, and Durable Solutions in Turkey, Bulgaria, and Greece.


Matt Wilch is Refugee Policy Advisor for USCCB/MRS.