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St. Hermann Contractus

Born February 18, 1013, at Altshausen (Swabia), St. Hermann Contractus was born crippled and unable to move without assistance.  It was an immense difficulty for him to learn to read and write, however he persisted and his iron will and remarkable intelligence were soon manifested. Upon discovering the brilliance of his son’s mind, his father, Count Wolverad II, sent him at the age of seven to live with the Benedictine monks on the island of Reichenau in Southern Germany. He lived his entire life on the island, taking his monastic vows in 1043. Students from all over Europe flocked to the monastery on the island to learn from him, yet he was equally as famous for his monastic virtues and sanctity. Hermann chronicled the first thousand years of Christianity, was a mathematician, an astronomer, and a poet and was also the composer of the Salve Regina and Alma Redemptoris Mater – both hymns to the Virgin Mary. He died on the island on September 21, 1054.

Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Prv 21:1-6, 10-13

Like a stream is the king's heart in the hand of the LORD;
wherever it pleases him, he directs it.

All the ways of a man may be right in his own eyes,
but it is the LORD who proves hearts.

To do what is right and just
is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

Haughty eyes and a proud heart–
the tillage of the wicked is sin.

The plans of the diligent are sure of profit,
but all rash haste leads certainly to poverty.

Whoever makes a fortune by a lying tongue
is chasing a bubble over deadly snares.

The soul of the wicked man desires evil;
his neighbor finds no pity in his eyes.

When the arrogant man is punished, the simple are the wiser;
when the wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge.

The just man appraises the house of the wicked:
there is one who brings down the wicked to ruin.

He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor
will himself also call and not be heard.

What Catholics learned at V Encuentro, and what they hope their bishops heard

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 24, 2018 / 05:19 pm (CNA).- It’s a difficult time for the Catholic Church, a fact much-discussed at the National V Encuentro conference, a gathering of Hispanic and Latino Catholics from throughout the U.S. that took place Sept. 20-23 in Grapevine, Texas.

The bishops have failed their people and ask for forgiveness, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston and president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, said in his address at the V Encuentro.

But even at the close of this ‘summer of scandals’, the 3,000-some Hispanic and Latino Catholics present for the gathering seemed to relish their time with and attention from the leaders of the Church.

Selfies were snapped, hugs were exchanged, and chants of “We Love You!” were signs of support and appreciation shown to the bishops present for the conference.

Ruby Fuentes, a young adult delegate from the Diocese of Brownsville “in deep south Texas, right above the Mexican border,” said she especially appreciated the bishops’ dinner and encounter night with young people, where a bishop sat at every table to listen to the needs and concerns of the young delegates.

The issues discussed varied from table to table, Fuentes said, but her particular concerns included suicide and mental health in young people, and immigration issues.

“I thought it was a really good way to be transparent within the Church and try to understand what young people are thinking about, what their concerns are,” Fuentes told CNA.

“It was really a pleasant surprise to see that bishops were the ones organizing the dinner and wanted to talk to us and see what we had to say, because oftentimes as young folks we’re cast aside, we’re not really taken seriously,” she said.

Sr. Mary Johanna of the Nashville Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia told CNA that the closeness of the bishops was the thing most-remarked on by the delegates in her group.

“It’s been great to have so many Hispanics and Anglos here together, and it’s beautiful to see so many bishops here with us and to see the attention that they’re giving, how deeply they’re listening, and just coming together as a Church,” she said.

Besides DiNardo, some of the bishops at the V Encuentro included Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, M.Sp.S. of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Archbishop José H. Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Archbishop William E. Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and Cardinal Sean O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap, of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Alfredo Portillo, a delegate from Las Vegas, told CNA that the Encuentro was a “heartwarming” experience and “for the bishops to reunite us, to bring us together, to celebrate our Hispanic inheritances, I think it’s really great, I’m really proud to be here.”

Guadalupe Alba, a delegate from St. Martha’s Catholic Church in Huntington Park, California, told CNA that it was encouraging for him to see Catholic leaders, including bishops and non-Hispanic Catholics, attending the conference and listening to what the delegates had to say.

“Even though there’s a lot of Hispanics in the United States, we’re still a minority, you know?” he told CNA.

What the bishops are communicating to Hispanic and Latino Catholics through the Encuentro is that “we know that you’re here, we accept you, and we’re on the same team. Everything in the faith,” Alba said.

Juan Carlos Reyes, a delegate from the Archdiocese of Denver, told CNA that hoped that the bishops have a renewal of a pastoral rather than a political spirit following the Encuentro.

“I feel like many times our Church, the conversation gets framed by the political aspects in the nation, and I think many of our bishops are worried about saying the right thing, being on the right side of things, they’re worried about the politics and they are detached from the people,” he said.

“And they are not congressmen, they’re pastors, so if they could take from this a renewal of a pastoral approach that would be wonderful,” he said. Another concern of Reyes was that there be a more holistic approach within the pro-life movement to the issue of immigration.

“The pro-life movement is all about the abortion issue, and that is urgent and continues to be needed,” he said. “But we march and we pray outside of abortion clinics, but we don’t march and we don’t pray outside of detention centers.”

Evangelization and bridging the cultural divide that exists in some parishes between Hispanic and Anglo Catholics were other frequently-discussed topics of conversation at the V Encuentro.

“We are failing our Church ourselves because we are not bringing people in,” Carlos Mendez from Huntington Park, California told CNA. “But first we have to go and be taught by others how to do it, we have to find the love within us and go with the Holy Spirit and take charge and be there for the ones who feel marginalized.”

Joanne Reinhardt, a delegate from Toledo Ohio, said she was leaving Encuentro with a renewed desire to “build bridges” between Hispanic and Anglo Catholics.

She said some things that her parish has done to help bridge the cultural divide is to host bilingual Masses, celebrations for Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast day, and food and diaper drives for immigrants in the parish.

“Sometimes we want to separate ourselves,” she said. “But we’re one people and when we come together, things will happen.”

Former priest pleads not guilty to abuse charges in NM after extradition

Santa Fe, N.M., Sep 24, 2018 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A former priest is back in the United States after he fled to Morocco in 1992 to escape accusations of sexual abuse.

Arthur Perrault, 80, is accused of sexually abusing a child in the early 1990s and was extradited to New Mexico to face charges Sept. 21.

Perrault served in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe from 1973 to 1992, and the alleged abuse occurred while Perrault was serving as a military chaplain in Albuquerque. He is charged with seven counts of aggravated sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact with a minor under the age of 12.

The former priest has pled not guilty to all seven counts against him.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe stated that “over the past year” it has “fully cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI during the federal grand jury investigation which ultimately led to these criminal indictments against Perrault.”

“The archdiocese has cooperated fully with all law enforcement agencies investigating the allegations and will continue to support the judicial process as it runs its course. We ask all to cooperate and respect the legal proceedings and for prayers for all victims and those affected by these very serious charges.”

Perrault had been in the custody of Moroccan authorities since October of last year, after the Department of Justice filed an indictment against him Sept. 21, 2017. U.S. Attorney John Anderson for the District of New Mexico stated that Perrault could face a maximum sentence of life in prison for the aggravated sexual abuse charge and a maximum of 10 years for the abusive sexual contact charge.

Only one alleged victim is mentioned in the indictment, but a motion filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Mexico alleges that Perrault is a “serial child molester who abused numerous victims” during his priesthood. The Albuquerque Journal reports that nearly 40 of Perrault’s alleged victims in New Mexico have come forward, as well as the mother of one young man who claims her son committed suicide following abuse.

Perrault had been sent to a treatment center for sexually abusive priests in 1965 after being accused of molesting young men in Connecticut. The center, located in Jemez Springs, N.M., was run by the Servants of the Paraclete. In 1966, a psychologist contracting with the order recommended him for a teaching position at St. Pius X High School.

The Journal also reports that court records suggest that several priests and diocesan leaders were alerted to Perrault’s conduct during his 26 year priesthood in Albuquerque.

By 1992, after two victims reported abuse to the Albuquerque police, the then-archbishop suspended Perrault’s priestly faculties and reported the accusations to Albuquerque civil authorities. The accused priest disappeared from his Albuquerque parish in 1992, just days before an attorney filed two lawsuits against the archdiocese.

CRS sells fair trade coffee, supporting Mexican farmers and land

Baltimore, Md., Sep 24, 2018 / 04:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic Relief Services is now offering fair trade coffee beans that will benefit local farming communities in Mexico and foster better agricultural practices.

“So many of us love coffee, and this is just a really easy way to live out your faith and support the people who work really hard to create the products that we love,” said Meghan Gilbert, communications officer for CRS.

“As Catholics, we have to uphold the dignity of everyone and one really great way to do that is to make sure workers are treated fairly and that they are paid a fair price for what they produce,” she told CNA.

The project is called Mama Tierra, or Mother Earth, and is a joint effort of CRS and Equal Exchange, a fair trade company that looks to provide a just relationship between consumers and producers.

For every bag of coffee sold at retail price, $2 will be given to CRS. If a unit of five bags are sold at wholesale price, then $5 will be donated. CRS will use the money to help educate farmers on practices to improve quantity and reduce waste.  

The coffee sales also support members of a democratically-run cooperative of farmers in Oaxaca. The cooperative is called CEPCO and involves 4,300 farmers. The group provides a fair price for the product and educates farmers to improve cultivation.

Because coffee produces a lot of waste, a major focus of the project is to instruct farmers in environmentally-friendly agriculture, with measures such as reducing water contamination and improving soil quality, said Gilbert.

“We also work with them on how to grow this coffee so it actually puts more nutrients into the soil so it reduces the harm to the land and actually increases their yield,” she said.

“It’s about not just caring for the worker, it’s caring for the environment as well. Because if we don’t care for the environment, these workers won’t be able to produce coffee or some of the other agricultural goods.”

CRS has worked with Equal Exchange for more than 10 years, and this project has been in the works for the past few years, said Gilbert. Since the product is fair trade, the workers and farmers receive a just return on their product, she said, noting this is important because many farmers are not paid justly.

“You look around the world and you hear all these stories – workers getting paid very, very little for the amount of work they do,” she said. “When you make sure that they are paid a fair wage, then workers are treated better and they are able to produce and increase their business.”

Gilbert said fair trade is also important because it cultivates a culture that appreciates the workers on the other side of the products – items which people may take advantage of without recognizing the poor treatment those workers receive.

“I think that is really what ethical trade at CRS and fair trade over all is really trying to get people to think about who is on the other end of that product and who is creating it and making sure that they are treated well, that they are paid a fair wage.”

Irish health minister proposes abortion free-of-charge

Dublin, Ireland, Sep 24, 2018 / 03:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Irish Health Minister Simon Harris has announced that he intends to make it possible for women in the Republic of Ireland to have abortions free of charge, following the recent legalization of abortion in the country.

Harris said he didn’t want “cost to be a barrier” to women wanting to obtain abortions, and that it would become part of Ireland’s public health system. Funds to pay for the procedures will be included in this year’s budget, according to local media reports.

Harris stated in a speech in January that an estimated 170,000 Irish women have traveled to other countries for abortions since 1980.

Irish president Michael Higgins signed the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, which was voted on in a country-wide referendum in May, into law Sept. 18. The law had previously provided for equal protection of the lives of both the mother and the unborn child.

In terms of Irish law, the next phase will involve the Health Minister submitting a new law governing abortion, which is expected to reach the Irish legislature in October and could be in force by 2019, according to NPR. Draft legislation suggests that the new law could allow elective abortion up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

Prominent Irish doctors have expressed concerns about the government’s quick turnaround to begin performing free abortions, citing safety concerns for the women involved.

Dr Peter Boylan, chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and Dr John O Brien, chair of the Irish College of General Practitioners, both stated that talks with the Department of Health about how abortions will be delivered have been lagging.

Boylan also advised against a three-day waiting period for women seeking abortions, claiming the waiting period may “act as a barrier and [make] unwarranted assumptions about women’s ability to make their own decisions.”

Ireland is also facing a potential shortage of doctors willing to participate in abortions; surveys show that roughly seven out of 10 general practitioners in Ireland are unwilling to perform abortions.

Dr Mary Favier, vice president of the Irish College of General Practitioners, told the Oireachtas Health Committee Sept. 18 that “there  are concerns about capacity and resourcing issues such as staffing, facilities, training.”

“They are concerned about the potential lack of appropriate specialist support, the possibility of medical complications for their patients, what will be the public reaction to those who don't provide and those who do,” the Irish News reported Favier stating.

“They have a fear of litigation, they wish to see an acknowledgement of conscientious objection and how to accommodate this in the clinical pathway but also an acknowledgement of conscientious commitment and how to support this.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadker has said that Catholic hospitals will not be permitted to opt out of performing abortions, though individual medical professionals may.

The removal of the Eighth Amendment follows the decisive result of the national referendum held in May. Only one county, Donegal, voted to keep the amendment.

Nigerian priest dies shortly after being kidnapped

Warri, Nigeria, Sep 24, 2018 / 02:24 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic priest in Nigeria died Sept. 19, just days after escaping from kidnappers, according to local media reports. The exact cause of his death has not yet been made public.

Fr. Louis Odudu was kidnapped Sept. 14 and released the next day, according to the Diocese of Warri, although there are some reports that he escaped. Four days later, Fr. Odudu reportedly complained of pain before being taken to the hospital where he died. Whether or not he died as a result of injuries sustained during his kidnapping ordeal has not been made public by the diocese.

The Nigerian Daily Post reports that five Catholic priests have been abducted in the southern Nigerian state of Delta in 2018 alone.

Fr. Odudu was chaplain of the Seat of Wisdom Catholic Chaplaincy at the Petroleum Training Institute, a training school for the oil and gas industry located in the port city of Warri. Ordained in 1987, Fr. Odudu had been on sabbatical for two years in the United Kingdom before returning to his home diocese in 2018. He was assigned to the chaplaincy about two months before his kidnapping and death.

Members of the Diocese of Warri were already mourning the death of Fr. Stephen Ekakabor, who died in early September following a brain injury sustained during an armed invasion of his rectory in 2017. Members of the diocese were reportedly holding prayer vigils for Fr. Ekakabor on the day of Fr. Odudu’s death.

The governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, offered his condolences Sept. 21 to the Bishop of Warri and condemned the “renewed onslaught against Catholic priests and clergymen, assuring that Government will work closely with security agencies to arrest the ugly trend,” according to the diocese.

The Nigerian bishops speak out frequently to criticize the government for being slow to act in the face of violence against Nigerians for religious and political reasons.

 

New priests share greeting of “Jesus, Mary and Joseph”

The greeting heard all throughout the St. Joseph community in Winter Haven is “Jesus, Mary and Joseph”.  These faithful words were brought to the parish and school by our new pastor, Father Jimson Varghese, S.D.V., and Father Rony Parakkal Rappai, S.D.V., parochial vicar. As members of the Society of Divine Vocation, these words are spoken … Continue reading "New priests share greeting of “Jesus, Mary and Joseph”"

Monday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Prv 3:27-34

Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim
when it is in your power to do it for him.
Say not to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give,” when you can give at once.

Plot no evil against your neighbor,
against one who lives at peace with you.
Quarrel not with a man without cause,
with one who has done you no harm.

Envy not the lawless man
and choose none of his ways:
To the LORD the perverse one is an abomination,
but with the upright is his friendship.

The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
but the dwelling of the just he blesses;
When dealing with the arrogant, he is stern,
but to the humble he shows kindness.

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Wis 2:12, 17-20

The wicked say:
Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him.