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Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Pope's homily: Become small to hear the voice of the Lord

(Vatican Radio) In order to hear the voice of the Lord, you need to make yourself small. That was the message of Pope Francis in his homily at the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Friday morning, as the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Lord has chosen us, He has “mixed Himself up with us in the journey of life,” and has given “His Son, and the life of His Son, for our love.” In the first Reading, taken from the book of Deuteronomy, Moses says that God has chosen us “from all the nations on the face of the earth to be a people peculiarly His own.” Pope Francis explained how God is praised because “in the Heart of Jesus He gave us the grace to celebrate with joy the great mystery of our salvation, of His love for us”; that is, celebrating “our faith.” In particular, the Pope dwelt on two words contained in the reading: “to choose,” and “smallness.” With regard to choosing, the Holy Father said it is not we who have chosen God, but rather, God has made Himself a “our prisoner”:

“He has attached Himself to our life; He cannot detach Himself. He is strongly yoked! And He remains faithful in this attitude. We were chosen for love and this is our identity. ‘I have chosen this religion, I have chosen…’ [we might say]. No, you have not chosen. It is He Who has chosen you, has called you, and has joined Himself to you. And this is our faith. If we do not believe this, we don’t understand the message of Christ, we don’t understand the Gospel.”

For the second word, “smallness,” Pope Francis recalled how Moses said that the Lord had chosen the people of Israel because it was “the smallest of all nations”:

“He was enamoured of our smallness, and for this reason He has chosen us. And He chooses the small: not the great, the small. And He is revealed to the small: ‘you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.’ He is revealed to the little ones: if you want to understand something of the mystery of Jesus, lower yourself: make yourself small. Be mindful of being nothing. And He not only chooses and reveals Himself to the little ones; He calls the little ones: ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.’ You that are the smallest – because of suffering, because of fatigue – He chooses the little ones, He is revealed to the little ones, and He calls the little ones. But the great, does He not call them? His heart is open, but the great do not recognize His voice because they are not able to hear it because they are full of themselves. To hear the voice of the Lord, you must make yourself little.”

And thus we come to the mystery of the Heart of Christ, which is not a “holy card” for the devout: the transfixed Heart of Christ is “the heart of revelation, the heart of our faith, because He made Himself small, He has chosen this way”: that of humbling Himself, of emptying Himself “even to death on the Cross.” It is, the Pope said, “a choice for smallness, so that the glory of God might be manifest.” From the Body of Christ transfixed by the soldier’s lance, “blood and water” flowed out, the Pope reminded us; and “this is the mystery of Christ” in today’s celebration of “a Heart that loves, that chooses, that is faithful,” and that “is joined to us, is revealed to the little ones, calls the little ones, makes itself little”:

“We believe in God, yes; yes in Jesus too, yes… ‘Is Jesus God?’ [someone asks.] ‘Yes,’ [we respond]. This is the manifestation, this is the glory of God. Fidelity in choosing, in joining Himself and making Himself little, even for Himself: to become small, to empty Himself. The problem of the faith is the core of our life: we can be so much, so virtuous, but with little or no faith; we must start from here, from the mystery of Jesus Christ, Who has saved us with His faithfulness.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily with the prayer that the Lord might grant us the grace to celebrate in the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, “the great acts, the great works of salvation, the great works of redemption.”

Listen: 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope to Serra International: Keep moving forward with courage

(Vatican Radio) “Keep moving forward with courage, creativity and boldness.” Those were Pope Francis’ words to Serra International whom he met on Friday on the occasion of their 75th convention.

Listen to our report: 

To quote St John Paul II, Serrans “accept as their responsibility the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life”, and on Friday, his successor to the See of Peter,  Pope Francis said that above all else a Serran, “is a special friend whom the Lord has brought into the lives of seminarians and priests.”

The Holy Father made the comment during an address to the 600 participants attending the 75th Convention of Serra International taking place in Rome this week.

Speaking about friendship, the Pope said friends stand at our side, they listen to us closely, and can see beyond mere words; they are merciful when faced with our faults; they are non-judgmental. 

This, Pope Francis commented is, “also the kind of friendship that you seek to offer to priests.”  The Serra Club, he added,  “helps foster this beautiful vocation of being laity who are friends to priests.” 

The Holy Father noted another phrase that is used to describe the Serrans, that is Siempre adelante!  or Keep moving forward!  Like you, the Pope went on to say, “I believe that this is a synonym for the Christian vocation.”

Vocation, Pope Francis said “is an invitation to go forth from ourselves, to rejoice in our relationship with the Lord, and to journey along the ways that he opens up before us.”

But he stressed, “we cannot make progress unless we take a risk, and have the courage to dare, not to let fear stifle creativity, not to be suspicious of new things, but instead to embrace the challenges which the Spirit sets before us, even when this means changing plans and charting a different course.”

In conclusion, the Pope invited those gathered to keep moving forward with courage, creativity and boldness.  “Do not rest on your laurels, he said, but be ever ready to try new things.” 

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope to ROACO recalls suffering of Eastern-rite Christians

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday met with members of ROACO, (Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches) who have been holding their 90th plenary assembly in Rome this week.

The meeting brings Church leaders from countries across the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe together with donor organisations which raise funds for Christians in the Eastern-rite Churches.

Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:

The four day meeting has been focused on the difficult situation of Christians in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Holy Land, as well as reflecting on the training of priests and seminarians in all the Eastern-rite Churches.

In his message to participants, Pope Francis thanked them for their constant work of charity and solidarity over the past half century in support of Latin and Eastern-rite communities under the care of the Vatican’s Congregation for Oriental Churches.

Persecution and emigration

These Churches of the Middle East, as well as in Eastern Europe, he said, have often suffered from “terrible waves of persecution and pain”. Emigration has also significantly weakened the presence of these Churches in places where they flourished for centuries.

Freedom has now returned to some of those regions, the Pope said, but others, particularly in Syria, Iraq and Egypt, are still devastated by “wars and absurd violence perpetrated by fundamentalist terrorism.” These experiences are a source of both suffering and salvation, he said, as we experience the Cross of Christ.

Temptations of social status

Speaking about the formation of priests and seminarians, Pope Francis noted the dedication and heroic witness of so many prelates. But he also warned about the temptations of seeking social status that is associated with the priesthood in some parts of the world.

The Congregation for Oriental Churches and donor agencies must continue to support projects and initiatives which build up the Church in an authentic way, the Pope said. We must remember we are living stones, built around Christ as our corner stone, he added.

Witness to the Gospel

Finally, the Pope remembered all those Christians – Catholics, Orthodox or Protestant – whose blood continues to be spilled because of their witness to the Gospel. When Eastern-rite Christians are forced to emigrate, he said, they must be welcomed in their new countries and allowed to continue their worship according to their own traditions

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Mass: Discern and denounce evil, care for others

(Vatican Radio) A shepherd must be passionate, must know how to discern and how to denounce evil. Those were Pope Francis’ words during Mass on Thursday at the Casa Santa Marta, where he focused on the figure of the Apostle Paul and then turned his attention to the example offered by Don Milani. Like the parish priest of Barbiana, the Pope said, one should take care of one’s neighbour.

"The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep," said Pope Francis during his homily, drawing inspiration from the readings of the day and dwelling on the characteristics that a shepherd should have. The Pope noted in Saint Paul, the figure of the "true shepherd", who does not abandon his sheep unlike a "mercenary". The first quality, therefore, the Holy Father indicated, is that St Paul  is "passionate". Passionate,  he added, "to the point of telling his people, 'I feel for you all a kind of divine jealousy'." He  is "divinely jealous," the Pope commented.

The true shepherd knows how to discern, on guard against at the seduction of evil

A passion therefore becomes almost "madness", "stupidity" for his people. "And this – the Pope added - is that which we call apostolic zeal: he cannot be a true shepherd without this fire." A second characteristic, he continued, the pastor must be "a man who knows how to discern":

"He knows what seduction in life is. The lying father is a seducer. The Shepherd, is not. The shepherd loves. Instead, the snake, the father of lies, is a seducer. He is a seducer trying to turn away from fidelity, because that divine jealousy of Paul was to bring the people to a single groom, to keep the people loyal to their bridegroom. In the history of salvation, in Scripture many times we turn away from God, disloyalty towards the Lord, idolatry as if it were a maternal infidelity. "

You must know how to report evil, not be naïve

The Shepherd’s first characteristic, then, "is to be passionate, zealous, zealous". The second feature is, "someone who knows how to discern: to discern where the dangers are, where the graces are... where the real road is". This, the Pope said, "means he always accompanies his sheep: in beautiful moments and even in bad moments, even in moments of seduction, with patience he brings them to the fold." And the third feature: is "the ability to denounce":

"An apostle cannot be naive: 'Ah, it's all right, let's go ahead, eh? It's all right ... Let's party, everyone ... everything is possible ...'. because there is the fidelity to the only groom, to Jesus Christ, to be defended. And he knows how to condemn it: that concreteness, to say ' no,' like the  parents say to the baby when he starts to clap and goes to the electric socket to put his fingers in : 'No, no! It's dangerous!'. But, I think so many times of that 'tuca nen' (do not touch anything ndr) that my parents and grandparents told me at those moments where there was a danger. "

Take care of others  as Don Milani did

 "The Good Shepherd – Pope Francis said - can denounce, by name and surname" as St. Paul did.

The Holy Father returned to his visit to Bozzolo and Barbiana, this week, referring, "to those two good shepherds of Italy." And speaking of Don Milani, he recalled his "motto" when he "taught his boys":

"I care. But what does it mean? They explained to me that he wanted to say 'I care'. He taught that things were to be taken seriously, against the fashion motto at that time that was 'I do not care,' but said in another language, which I dare not say here. And so he taught the kids to move on. Take care: take care of your life, and this no! '"

Paul's apostolic zeal, was passionate, zealous. Man, commented the Holy Father knows how to discern because he knows the power of seduction and knows the devil seduces.

The Pope then concluded with a prayer "for all the shepherds of the Church, for Saint Paul who intercede before the Lord, for all of us pastors in order to serve the Lord."

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope donates funds to support aid projects in South Sudan

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has pledged to donate about half a million dollars to support Church-run education, healthcare and agricultural projects in South Sudan.

At a press conference in the Vatican on Wednesday, Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the office for Integral Human Development, led a panel of speakers giving details of those humanitarian projects, run by Caritas and by missionaries from different religious institutes. The cardinal also outlined numerous initiatives that the Holy See has taken to stop the war, which flared across the country in 2013.

Listen to Philippa HItchen's report:

Pope Francis may have postponed a planned visit to war-torn South Sudan this year, but he’s clearly more determined than ever to raise awareness about the need to support those suffering from conflict and starvation.

Over half the population doesn’t have enough food to eat, a million and a half people have fled their homes, thousands are suffering from a cholera epidemic and untold numbers are victims of killings, rapes and other violent crimes.

Faces behind the statistics

But beyond the shocking statistics of this largely forgotten war, it’s vital to remember the individual victims – that’s why aid workers have started a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #southsudanwecare

Among those speaking at the Vatican press conference was Sr Yudith Pereira-Rico, from Solidarity with South Sudan, an organisation founded by male and female religious congregations over a decade ago:

We don’t talk about numbers, we talk about individuals who are suffering….any time a young man or woman in South Sudan clicks this hashtag they will know how many people care.....this moral support is very important"

Part of the pope’s donation will go to support a college in Yambio run by Solidarity with South Sudan to train teachers, nurses, midwives, farmers and community leaders. As well as learning vital job skills, the students from many different ethnic groups learn about the values of diversity and collaboration, an important sign of hope for the country which gained independence in 2011.

Caritas and Comboni missionaries

Other beneficiaries of the initiative entitled ‘The Pope for South Sudan’ include two hospitals run by Comboni missionaries and an agricultural project, run by Caritas, to provide livelihoods for 2.500 families in the dioceses of Yei, Yambio and Torit. Michel Roy, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, told journalists that while peace must be the priority for South Sudan, the international community must also do more to save lives of those dying from hunger and disease

The UN has launched an appeal, right now it is half funded, there’s a real need for the international community to engage more, much more. This cannot be just another forgotten conflict, like Darfur…”

Holy See mediation efforts

Asked about Vatican initiatives to try and stop the fighting, Cardinal Peter Turkson said he had been personally involved in two mediation efforts to bring together warring leaders President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar. Amid concerns that the conflict was spreading across the region, the nuncio in Kenya also met with Machar last December to urge the parties to come to the negotiating table.

Planned peace pilgrimage

So far, these attempts have failed to bring peace, but Cardinal Turkson stressed the Holy See continues to do all it can to stop the fighting in South Sudan. That’s a key condition before a planned visit to the region by the pope and by Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, can take place. While they had hoped to travel together in October to endorse peace efforts of all Christians in the region, that trip has been postponed until at least 2018.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope to NFL Hall of Famers: foster fair play, teamwork

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received a delegation from the National Football League’s Hall of Fame on Wednesday.

Addressing the 43-member delegation representing the trustees and members of the organization that honors the great players in the history of the premier professional American football league, the Holy Father spoke of sport as a bridge-builder that can be a powerful tool in creating a culture of encounter, especially by fostering virtues of fair play, teamwork, and pursuit of excellence.

Click below to hear our report

“Our world,” said Pope Francis, “and especially our young people, need models, persons who show us how to bring out the best in ourselves, to use our God-given gifts and talents, and, in so doing, to point the way to a better future for our societies.”

Pope Francis concluded expressing the hope that the delegates’ visit to Rome might help them grow in gratitude for gifts received and inspire them to share those gifts ever more generously in shaping a more fraternal world.

(from Vatican Radio)

Corpus Christi

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June 18, 2017

Clergy assignments

Bishop Paul D. Sirba has announced the following clergy assignments, effective July 12, 2017.

Father Seamus Walsh: pastor of St. John, Grand Marais, and Holy Rosary, Grand Portage, to retirement.

Father William Fider: pastor of St. Lawrence, St. Joseph, and Holy Family, Duluth, to retirement.

Father Ryan Moravitz: pastor of Immaculate Heart, Crosslake, and St. Emily, Emily, to pastor of St. Lawrence, St. Joseph, and Holy Family, Duluth.

Father Blake Rozier: parochial vicar of St. James, Duluth, to pastor of Immaculate Heart, Crosslake, and St. Emily, Emily.

Father Drew Braun: pastor of St. Mary, Cook; St. Martin, Tower; and Holy Cross, Orr, to pastor of St. John, Grand Marais, and Holy Rosary, Grand Portage.

Father Nicholas Nelson: parochial vicar of Blessed Sacrament, Hibbing, to pastor of St. Mary, Cook; St. Martin, Tower; and Holy Cross, Orr.

Father Francis Kabiru: pastor of St. Agnes, Walker, and Sacred Heart, Hackensack, to administrator of St. Michael, Duluth.

Father Timothy Lange: parochial vicar of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Mary Star of the Sea, Duluth, to pastor of St. Agnes, Walker, and Sacred Heart, Hackensack.

Father Jeremy Bock: seminarian to ordained priest and parochial vicar at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Mary Star of the Sea, Duluth.

Father Beau Braun: seminarian to ordained priest and parochial vicar at Blessed Sacrament, Hibbing.

Father Steven Langenbrunner: seminarian to ordained priest and parochial vicar at St. James, Duluth.

Bishop Paul Sirba: June brings great celebrations and chances to grow in faith

You are cordially invited to attend the ordination of Deacons Jeremy Bock, Beau Braun, and Steven Langenbrunner to the priesthood on Friday, June 9, at 4 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary in Duluth. If you have never been to an ordination before, please come! I still encounter many lifelong Catholics who have never been to an ordination. It is an extraordinary liturgical experience. Consider this an open invitation to attend.

The evening before the ordination, June 8, 2017, we will be hosting a holy hour for the ordinandi at the Cathedral from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., to which you are also invited.

Bishop Paul Sirba
Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua

By sacred ordination a sacrament is conferred on priests through which, “by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, they are signed with a special character and are so configured to Christ the Priest that they have the power to act in the person of Christ, the Head” (Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Ministry and Life of priests, no. 2).

Thank you for your ongoing prayers for vocations to the priesthood, permanent diaconate, religious life, and holy marriages in our diocese. Please pray for all the priests who are moving to a new assignment and those who are retiring from active ministry as well. We thank them for their service to us and ask God to bless them and the parishioners who, likewise, are experiencing transition at this time.

On the day of Pentecost, when the 50 days of Easter had come to an end, Christ’s promised sending of the Paraclete is manifested. The Holy Spirit is given and communicated as a divine person. The feast of Pentecost reveals the mystery of the Trinity. We believe in one God in three divine persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. “By his coming, which never ceases, the Holy Spirit causes the world to enter into the ‘last days,’ the time of the Church, the Kingdom already inherited though not yet consummated” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 731-732).

As Catholics, we make the transition from the Easter season to what we liturgically describe as Ordinary Time. This season, which lasts until the First Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2, is really anything but ordinary. The quotation from the Catechism which reflects on the Holy Spirit’s activity in the Church during the last days is most certainly not humdrum or boring.

Our daily life in our world should remind us of the passing nature of things. The tumult we experience shouldn’t scare or paralyze us as Catholics but rather open our hearts and minds to the eternal truths of our great faith and to action. Ordinary Time is an opportunity for us to grow in our faith, hope, and charity and to serve our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Liturgically, the Church grounds us in a cycle of spiritual life with the great feasts of the Most Holy Trinity on June 11, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ on June 18, and the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, June 23, on which day the Holy Father asks for a world day for the sanctification of priests.

We are invited by God, the Holy Spirit, to trust in the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Son, and to receive the merciful love of God the Father, as we begin this new month of June and Ordinary Time. We are loved into action by our mother, the Church, to enter the last days with hope and joyful expectation of the Lord’s return in glory.

Bishop Paul Sirba is ninth bishop of the Diocese of Duluth.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

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June 11, 2017