Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 21, 1934 when Father James J. Kane offered Madison's first Mass in Madison's Memorial Town Hall.
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20170606T1216 0117 CNS OREGON FUNERAL 800Msgr. Richard Paperini comforts Myhanh Best, wife of Ricky Best, who was killed on a Portland, Ore., commuter train May 26 while defending two girls from an anti-Muslim racist attack. The ceremony was held June 5 at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, following a funeral Mass for Ricky Best at Christ the King Church in Milwaukie, Ore. (CNS photo/Ed Langlois, Catholic Sentinel)PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) -- The morning after police in Portland arrested 14 demonstrators at dueling political protests, about 800 worshippers turned out in a unified show of support for a man whose heroic act transcended division.

Ricky Best was laid to rest in Willamette National Cemetery in Portland June 5 after a funeral Mass at a packed Christ the King Church in the suburb of Milwaukie. On hand were Christians, Muslims, Jews, peace activists and members of a motorcycle club that backs President Donald Trump.

"Many of us consider him a hero. Many of us in the church consider him a martyr," said Msgr. Richard Paperini, pastor of Christ the King.

Best, a 53-year-old city of Portland employee, was one of three men who stepped forward May 26 to defend two teens on a Portland commuter train. The girls, one in a Muslim headscarf and the other black, were the target of an anti-Muslim and racist verbal attack from 35-year-old Jeremy Christian.

When Best -- along with 23-year-old Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and 21-year-old Micah Fletcher -- spoke up, Christian pulled a knife and slashed at the men. Best and Namkai-Meche died and Fletcher was hospitalized. Police apprehended Christian, who has been arraigned on charges of aggravated murder.

One of the girls, 16-year-old Destinee Mangum, attended the funeral with her family.

During the Mass, Best's 19-year-old son spoke to the crowd.

"I look into my father's eyes and I see the love of God made manifest," Erik Best, a Clackamas Community College student, said in a halting voice. "He loved everyone."

The whole family wore white headbands, a symbol of mourning and honor in the Vietnamese tradition of Myhanh, Best's wife.

"We are grateful to Ricky for the example he gave us," Msgr. Paperini said during his homily, citing the Gospel reading from St. John, which said in part: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." He told the Best family that the parish stands with them now and will stand with them in the future.

"He saw the opportunity to love as a privilege," said Msgr. Paperini, who recalled Best once telling him: "It's really not about us, but about our ability to be there for others."

Portland Archbishop Alexander K. Sample, who attended the funeral, said Best fulfilled the call of those who follow Jesus, an act that will live on in memory and change the world for the better. The archbishop said even he asks "why?" when tragedies happen, but over time, "I always see the good God is able to draw out of the most horrible of human tragedies."

He said Best's act of heroism has already borne fruit, drawing together Christians and Muslims in a mutual stand against hate and violence.

Harris Zafar of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Portland told mourners he wishes he could thank Best in the flesh.

"I would thank him for being the father I strive to be and the human being I strive to be," Zafar said. "I would tell him thank you for helping me be able to go home to my kids and say, 'Daddy was wrong. Superheroes do exist.'"

Zafar cited the Quran, which says that if you kill one, it's as if you have killed all; and if you save a life, it is as if you saved all.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley attended the funeral and greeted the family.

As the funeral procession wound up Mount Scott to the cemetery, citizens lined the road, waved flags and saluted.

At the cemetery, more than 50 flag-carrying motorcyclists welcomed the hearse. Best, who served in the Army for 23 years, was buried with full military honors. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown was on hand to help present the casket flag to his wife.

Langlois is managing editor of the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.