VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Like many Catholic parishes, the Vatican has turned to a raffle to raise money; the difference is, though, the prizes are items originally given as gifts to Pope Francis.
WEST SIMSBURY – A parishioner walks up to her pastor and says, “I want to give you my kidney.”
Pastor smiles and says, “Okay.”
Don’t expect a punch line. It’s no joke.
Father Michael G. Whyte arrived at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in 2007 and has been pastor there since 2008. A type 1 diabetic, he began experiencing extreme tiredness and nausea at about that time, signs of kidney failure due to the diabetes. Doctors gave him three choices: go on dialysis and live five or six more years; do nothing and die within six months; or get a kidney transplant and – if it’s from a live donor – live 20 to 25 years.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis said he would attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September, making it the first confirmed stop on what is expected to be a more extensive papal visit to North America.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) will be taken up in parishes nationwide on Nov. 22-23, the weekend before Thanksgiving. Echoing the teaching of Pope Francis, the collection focuses on the theme: “CCHD: Working on the Margins.”
“In the United States, many Americans continue to face the effects of a stagnant economy, debilitating unemployment, a dehumanizing cycle of poverty, and growing civic disenfranchisement,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
Up above the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea, Saint Peter's Church shines as the beacon to the Holy Land from the old port city of Jaffa. Peter's vision of the clean and unclean took place here at the house of Simon the tanner. Jaffa (Joppa in biblical times) was also the departure port for the prophet Jonah's encounter with the whale.Bob Mullen/The Catholic Photographer, a member of the Cathedral of St. Joseph Parish in Hartford and a regular contributor to The Catholic Transcript, visited Israel Nov. 4-11 and shared the sites through these photographs. The Israel Ministry of Tourism and El Al Israel Airlines arranged the “Catholic Highlights of Israel” tour primarily for writers, editors and photographers for Catholic media. The photos marked "Photo of the Day" are available for download for free. They will be highlighted periodically.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The world's bishops are called to be servants and shepherds who use their position to care for people and the faith, not to seek power and boost their pride, Pope Francis said.
The church has no place for men with a "worldly mentality" who are seeking a career, he said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square Nov. 5.
"It's sad when you see a man who seeks this office and who does so much to get there and when he makes it, he doesn't serve, but struts like a peacock, living only for his own vanity," the pope said.
BRANFORD – St. Mary School’s seventh and eighth graders are learning science and math from Albertus Magnus College faculty now as part of a new partnership.
The partnership is designed to improve the St. Mary students’ competitiveness in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields of study. The school’s STEM program aims to provide students with a dynamic, engaging series of educational experiences based on an innovative, in-depth and hands-on approach to science.
HARTFORD – Few people have the opportunity to attend a Mass celebrated by the pope. Far fewer have the privilege to do so in his private chapel at the Vatican.
Mario Enzler is one of those people. He spoke in Hartford on April 29 about how his faith grew during the nearly four years he protected Pope John Paul II as a member of the famed Swiss Guard.
An only child, he is the son of an Italian mother and Swiss father. He served in the Swiss Army before applying to join the Swiss Guard because, as he joked, he thought the uniforms looked sharp and would help him meet girls.
His talk was entitled "I Served a Saint," and he spoke of how John Paul II "helped me to grow as a man in my faith" and in his appreciation of the priesthood. "The love of Christ was the dominant force in the life of our Holy Father."
In a talk that mixed humor with a serious message, he explained that "the popes have an army and that army is from Switzerland. The Swiss didn’t do just banking and chocolates. They were mercenaries" and highly valued for their military skills.
Members of the guard may serve a maximum of 10 years. They can marry after two years of service, but only if there is an available apartment for the couple within Vatican City.
The typical work week is 100 hours and many days involve split shifts, he said.
"When you are a Swiss Guard, you never go home. You become a citizen of Vatican City" and live there full time, Mr. Enzler added. The pay is modest at best.
"To be a Swiss Guard, it’s a mission. You get a call, you leave your family," he said. "Spending time in the Apostolic Palace in the presence of the Lord forms the soul of a Swiss Guard."
Depending upon their assignment, members of the guard may or may not be in ceremonial uniform. The pope always has two Swiss Guards alongside whenever he travels. The entire force numbers 100.
Mr. Enzler told a number of personal stories, some of them drawing laughs, about his experiences at the Vatican. But most were tales of faith.
"The first time I met John Paul II, I was doing my night shift" at a desk in the hallway outside the papal apartment from midnight to 6 a.m., he said.
At 3 a.m. he noticed that a light was on and went to investigate. It was in the tiny chapel next to the Pope’s bedroom and there before him was the Holy Father, kneeling in deep, intimate prayer, with one hand on the tabernacle and his forehead pressed against the back of that hand.
Mr. Enzler quietly backed away so as not to disturb him. A couple of hours later, a cardinal came down the hall and invited him to attend the 5:30 Mass that would be celebrated by the pope. He was one of only six people present.
The Mass was truly special, but what impressed him the most was how the Holy Father had spent two and a half hours in prayer to properly prepare himself for the Mass.
"I saw the presence of the Lord in that small chapel," he said.
Later that day, the pope approached him in the hallway and invited Mr. Enzler to join him the next time he was in intimate prayer. He had somehow sensed the guard’s presence outside the chapel.
On Good Friday, the Swiss Guard selects a few people from among the crowd at St. Peter’s Basilica to have their confessions heard by the pope. On one occasion, the last person in line was a pregnant woman who went into labor and had to be rushed to the hospital.
The sergeant of the guard ordered Mr. Enzler to take her place. He was a little uneasy about this because the penitents were supposed to come from the congregation, but he followed orders.
As he started his confession, the Holy Father spoke up from the other side of the darkened confessional and said, "I know this voice." He smiles about it now.
He estimated that during his career, he saw as many as 750 world leaders pass before him in the waiting room outside of the pope’s office, all waiting for a personal audience with the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. They included heads of state, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.
That list may sound impressive, but "I learned in the Vatican that the biggest leader in the world is Jesus Christ."
Mr. Enzler now serves as headmaster of the New England Classical Academy, a school in the Catholic tradition, in Claremont, N.H. His talk was held at the Polish National Home and sponsored by the Polish Cultural Club of Greater Hartford.