ROSLYN, N.Y. (CNS) – Caring for the sick is a vocation and way of life shared by a mother and two daughters serving together at a Catholic Hospital in Long Island, New York. Novlet Davis-Bucknor, 59, is a nurse practitioner in the cardiothoracic department of St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center in Nassau County. Her oldest child, LaToya Bucknor, 39, also a nurse practitioner, works with the critical care team. Another daughter, Shekeya Washington, 31, is a registered nurse in the medical intensive care unit. “It’s good to work together because we always have each other to lean on,” said Novlet, who was born and raised in Jamaica and immigrated at age 26 to the U.S., where a few years later she began her studies to be a nurse. Novlet is the ultimate role model as a mom and professional woman, LaToya and Shekeya told Catholic News Service. “She’s always there for us,” said LaToya. “She’s always loving and showing us that no matter what we go through in life, she’s always going to be there to support us.” “My mom has shown so much ambition and strength,” Shekeya said.
WASHINGTON (CNS) – President Joe Biden announced May 3 he was raising the historically low refugee cap of 15,000 left by the Trump administration, but he also warned that his administration may not be able to meet the new number of refugees it is seeking to resettle in what remains of the fiscal year: 62,500. In a statement, the president said that while the previous cap set by Trump did not reflect the country’s values “as a nation that welcomes and supports refugees,” it may be difficult for his administration to meet the new goal. “The sad truth is that we will not achieve 62,500 admissions this year. We are working quickly to undo the damage of the last four years. It will take some time, but that work is already underway,” he said in the statement. “We have reopened the program to new refugees. And by changing the regional allocations last month, we have already increased the number of refugees ready for departure to the United States.” The announcement was aimed at sending a signal, he said, “to remove any lingering doubt in the minds of refugees around the world who have suffered so much, and who are anxiously waiting for their new lives to begin.” In November, Biden said during a virtual Jesuit Refugee Service event that he would be heading in a dramatically different direction than the previous administration on refugee admissions and said he would raise the ceiling when he took office to 125,000.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Updating the Litany of St. Joseph, approved in 1909, the Vatican has added seven invocations, including two that address the guardian of Jesus and husband of Mary as “support in difficulty” and “patron of refugees.” The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments published the additions May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. The additions were approved by Pope Francis, the congregation said, and drew the new invocations mainly from modern papal texts about St. Joseph, including Pope Francis’ December apostolic letter proclaiming a Year of St. Joseph and St. John Paul II’s 1989 apostolic exhortation, “Redemptoris Custos” (“Protector of the Redeemer”). Since Pope Francis wanted, as he wrote in his letter, “to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal,” the congregation said, it seemed appropriate to update the 112-year-old litany. Providing only the Latin-language version of the invocations, the congregation said it would be up to bishops’ conferences to translate the phrases and to add others if St. Joseph is invoked by their people in a particular way. The Latin phrases are: “Custos Redemptoris” (Protector of the Redeemer); “Serve Christi” (Servant of Christ); “Minister salutis” (Minister of salvation); “Fulcimen in difficultatibus” (Support in difficulty); “Patrone exsulum” (Patron of refugees); “Patrone afflictorum” (Patron of the afflicted); and “Patrone pauperum” (Patron of the poor).
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Catholic Church’s proclamation of new saints demonstrates that it is possible for men and women to live holy lives and that God is present and at work in the world, said the prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. “It’s useful on earth, not for heaven,” said Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, the prefect, when asked, “What is the use of proclaiming saints?” In an interview published May 4 in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, the cardinal noted how the Second Vatican Council spoke of the “universal vocation of holiness. To proclaim saints helps convince us that this vocation really exists, that the Gospel works, that Jesus does not disappoint and that we can trust in his word,” Cardinal Semeraro said in the interview the day after Pope Francis and cardinals resident in Rome held a consistory to approve the canonization of seven men and women. The causes took years, even decades of work: studying the lives and writings of the candidates, verifying the events surrounding the deaths of those who were martyrs and looking at cures submitted as miracles attributed to the candidates’ intercession.
QUEBEC CITY (CNS) – Police have seized large quantities of altar wine in the province of Quebec, creating a situation where buying a bottle is nearly impossible. On April 9, police officers seized sacramental wine from Bertrand, Foucher, Bélanger, Inc. in Montreal, Procure Ecclésiastique, Inc. in Quebec City and Chandelles Tradition MB, Inc. in Saint-Constant. Sandra Dion, spokeswoman for the Quebec City Police Department, said the wine was seized following an investigation. The seizures appear related to laws governing the resale of alcohol within provinces, although some distributors claims they are within the law and have licenses. The altar wine available in Quebec comes from two Californian producers: Mont La Salle Altar Wines and Cribari Premium Altar Wines. However, since the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) – the provincial liquor board – does not sell these products, the wines had to be imported from other Canadian provinces. Although that was the practice for many years, police now says it’s illegal. “Officers from the Montreal Police Department showed up with a warrant,” said Alain Denis, general manager at Bertrand, Foucher, Bélanger, Inc., a store specializing in church goods. The warrant mentioned illegal possession and selling of alcohol. Chandelles Tradition MB did not return calls.
DUBLIN (CNS) – The Irish government said a COVID-19-related ban on Catholics attending Mass will be lifted May 10. Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin made the announcement in an address to the nation April 29 as he revealed a new road map for the reopening of society. Public worship has been banned since Dec. 26 amid increased cases — a move accepted by the Irish bishops’ conference and other faith leaders. However, the government provoked controversy earlier in April when Health Minister Stephen Donnelly made it a criminal offense for a priest to plan a public Mass or a Catholic to leave home to participate in Mass. Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Northern Ireland, head of the Irish bishops’ conference, described this move as both “provocative” and “draconian.” The prime minister announced in a televised address that up to 50 people will be permitted to attend Mass beginning May 10. Up to 50 people will also be able to gather for funerals and wedding ceremonies; however wedding receptions will be restricted to just six people, or 15 people if the reception takes place outdoors.
FRANKFURT, Germany (CNS) – Instead of comfortable footwear, participants in Germany’s third ecumenical convention, or kirchentag, will need stable internet connections. Organizers had hoped to attract more than 100,000 visitors to the approximately 2,000 public events May 13-16, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. With the COVID-19 pandemic, that has changed. “As the people can’t come to Frankfurt, the ÖKT will come to them at home,” said Thomas Sternberg, Catholic president of the convention, using its German acronym. Bettina Limperg, Protestant president of the convention, said when its motto, “Schaut hin” (“Take a look”) was devised in 2020, organizers were still hoping to have an in-person convention. Now most people will be taking a look on computer screens. KNA reported the kirchentag will open on the feast of the Ascension with an ecumenical service on a parking deck with a view of the famous skyline of Frankfurt’s international banking center. It will be broadcast live on German television. The exact location will not be made public beforehand to avoid crowds gathering during the pandemic. The digital program, with about 80 events each day, will focus on 10 main topics, including the church and power, international responsibility and the climate crisis.
Pope prays emergency workers in India find strength to persevere
By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – As India faces a massive surge in new infections and deaths caused by COVID-19, Pope Francis said he was praying for all those affected by the huge health emergency.
With so many in India suffering, “I am writing to convey my heartfelt solidarity and spiritual closeness to all the Indian people, together with the assurance of my prayers that God will grant healing and consolation to everyone affected by this grave pandemic,” he wrote.
Smashing global records, on May 5 more than 412,000 new cases and 3,980 deaths were registered in India in just 24 hours; however, health experts estimate the actual numbers are much higher due to unrecorded deaths and infections. The World Health Organization said India has accounted for 46% of global cases and 25% of global deaths reported in the past week.
In a written message sent May 6 to Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, the pope said he was praying for all those who have become sick, for their families and caregivers and for those mourning the loss of loved ones.
“I think too of the many doctors, nurses, hospital workers, ambulance drivers and those working tirelessly to respond to the immediate needs of their brothers and sisters,” the pope wrote. “With deep appreciation I invoke upon all of them God’s gifts of perseverance, strength and peace.”
The pope also expressed his closeness to the nation’s Catholic communities and thanked them for their “charity and fraternal solidarity carried out in the service of all; I think especially of the generosity shown by so many committed young people.”
He prayed for the faithful who have lost their lives, including “the great numbers of priests and men and women religious,” and asked that “in these days of immense grief, may we all be consoled in the hope born of Easter and our unshakable faith in Christ’s promise of resurrection and new life.”
Meanwhile, UNICEF has warned that the deadly surge in COVID-19 cases in India “is larger and spreading more rapidly than the first,” putting an enormous strain on health and critical care facilities.
“Urgent action is needed to avert further tragic loss of life,” it said on its website, appealing for funding to deliver urgently needed testing equipment, supplies and oxygen products and other services.
The pandemic’s first wave last year resulted in major cuts to public health services in South Asia, costing the lives of an estimated 228,000 children and 11,000 mothers, said George Laryea-Adjei, UNICEF’s regional director.
Essential health services, such as routine inoculations, have been disrupted and even risk being shut down with healthcare staff, equipment and facilities being diverted to addressing the ballooning pandemic, he said in a statement May 4.
Increasing numbers of children are being hurt by the pandemic as they lose parents and caregivers, witness traumatic scenes and lose vital health care, nutritional, education and support services, he said.
The current second wave throughout South Asia has the potential to cause immense devastation, Laryea-Adjei warned saying immediate assistance from the international community was “a moral imperative.”
Church leaders offer prayers after Mexico City metro crash
By David Agren
MEXICO CITY (CNS) – Mexican church leaders offered prayers for the victims of a metro line collapse that left at least 23 dead and more than 70 people injured.
Bishop Andrés Vargas Peña of Xochimilco – which serves three southern boroughs in Mexico City – offered condolences to the victims, while announcing each priest in the diocese would celebrate Mass three times May 4 “for the deceased, the injured and their families.”
The bishop asked parishioners to pray for the victims and also asked diocesan priests in the affected area and hospitals treating the injured to provide spiritual support.
An elevated portion of a metro line in Mexico City collapsed at around 10:30 p.m. May 3, sending two train cars crashing onto a busy thoroughfare below and crushing at least one vehicle. Rescuers worked through the night to free trapped passengers and search for victims.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said the cause of the tragedy remains unclear. Line 12 of Mexico City Metro, where the accident occurred, has been plagued by construction problems since being inaugurated in 2012.
Half the stations in Line 12 were closed in 2014 due to construction issues. A strong earthquake in 2017 also damaged columns on the metro line, but Sheinbaum said repairs were made and the inspections occur daily.
“Absolutely nothing will be hidden,” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said at his morning news conference May 4. “The people have to know the complete truth.”
The Mexico City Metro serves 4.6 million passengers daily, carrying armies of workers from far-flung suburbs to jobs in the Mexican capital.