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 – Tears of joy flowed among family members and others as the Archdiocese of Hartford welcomed three men to the priesthood and five men to the transitional diaconate during a two-and-a-half-hour ceremony Dec. 1 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
It was the first dual ordination of priests and deacons performed in the Archdiocese of Hartford. It is believed to have been the first ceremony of its type in the United States since a new ritual was promulgated last year.
Ordained to the priesthood were Henry Alexander Avendaño Varon, Andrés Mendoza Floyd and Jorge Eliecer Castro Morales, all of whom were born in Colombia.
The new transitional deacons are William Agyemang, Piotr Buczek, John Robert Mariano, Carlos Andrés Piedrahita Echeverri and Michael Alberto Santiago.
The five deacons will continue their seminary studies while providing pastoral care at various parishes across the Archdiocese of Hartford. Once they complete their requirements, they will be ordained to the priesthood in the spring.
"It’s a wonderful day for all of us as we celebrate the ordination of these men," said Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, ordaining prelate. "We are grateful to those who have chosen to serve God’s people, and we gather asking for the blessing of the Holy Spirit on these men who will serve the archdiocese through the diaconate and priesthood."
Announcing parish assignments for the new priests, Archbishop Mansell said that Father Varon will be assigned to St. Joseph Parish in Bristol; Father Castro, to Most Holy Trinity Parish in Wallingford; and Father Mendoza, to Most Holy Trinity Parish in Wallingford before returning to St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, Fla., to continue his studies.
"It’s a very important day for my family, especially my mother and father who are deceased," said Ricardo Mendoza Floyd, Father Mendoza’s brother. "My father wanted to see my brother become a priest. Our parents are in heaven now blessing him and watching this moment."
Father Mendoza earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in art from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield before starting major seminary at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in 2000. He also attended Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, where the other two priests also studied, as well as St. Vincent De Paul in Boynton Beach.
"Today is a big day," echoed Flor Ossa, wife of Deacon Tullio V. Ossa, who serves at Most Holy Trinity Parish in Wallingford. As tears welled up in her eyes, Mrs. Ossa explained that she and her husband have served as surrogate parents for Father Castro, whose parents live in Colombia and were unable to attend the ceremony.
"This is the way he wants to serve the Lord," she said of Father Castro. "He loves the Lord so much. It’s his vocation, his mission. He wants to serve the Lord with all his might."
Also emotional was Maria Varon, Father Varon’s mother, who came from Colombia with her husband Henry to see her son ordained. "This is a very special day and very important for our family," she said. "His father is so proud of him for this moment. We love him so much."
After the ordination, a jubilant Father Varon, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in computer systems before beginning his seminary studies, said, "I am so grateful because I deeply believe that the priesthood is a gift from God."
Parents of the newly ordained deacons were also moved by the ordination.
"It’s a very, very special day," said Olinda Santiago, with tears in her eyes, about her son, who was baptized at Our Lady of Fatima in Hartford and received his first holy Communion and confirmation in Portugal. "It’s been a long journey and God has made it possible."
Also traveling a long distance were Deacon Buczek’s mother and brother, who came from Poland for the ordination; and Deacon Piedrahita’s mother and sister. Deacon Piedrahita holds degrees in business administration and finance from Universidad Eafit in Colombia.
Supporting Deacon Agyemang was a large contingent of members of the Ghanaian community, in addition to his family.
"It’s a very precious day because my son is being ordained to the diaconate," said Wial Agyemang, his mother.
She said that she and her husband adopted him in Ghana. "It’s been his dream all his life to be a priest," said his father, Lawrence Bempong.
Born in Waterbury, Deacon Mariano was raised in Naugatuck, receiving his sacraments at St. Francis of Assisi Parish there. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Connecticut and a master's degree in environmental education from Southern Connecticut State University. He worked for 27 years as a middle school science teacher in Fairfield County.
"I feel like I have been walking through the stairs of life and the next is the priesthood," said Deacon Mariano, who graduated magna cum laude from the Angelicum, Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome.
"It was a long journey for him," offered Kathi Jones of Middlebury, a cousin, who added that his parents are deceased. "But he’s so excited. He will do so many good things for people."
Principal concelebrants for the ceremony were Archbishop Emeritus Daniel A. Cronin and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza.
There also were more than 70 priests, nearly 20 deacons and some of the 40-plus men who are studying for the priesthood for the archdiocese in attendance.