INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) – It was a time of Scripture, prayer, music and fellowship. It also was a night to honor the late co-founder of the National Black Catholic Men’s Conference. But for those teenagers and adults from across the United States in attendance, Franciscan Father Agustino Torres’ message Oct. 13 was simple, yet powerful: “The Lord has sent me to bless you.” Father Agustino, who ministers for his order in the New York borough of the Bronx and is founder of the Hispanic youth ministry Corazon Puro, was the keynote speaker on the first night of the four-day conference at St. Rita Church in Indianapolis. The gathering drew about 300 people. It was the first in-person gathering since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The priest said he ministers to people in the inner city, and the heart of his mission is trying to bring them hope. With that hope he also delivers his blessing, much like the blessing he offered to the attendees. “This blessing is meant to be shared, this blessing is meant to be given, this blessing brings joy,” he said. “This blessing brings life, this blessing heals. … And I love sharing the blessing because someone has shared the blessing with me.”
WASHINGTON (CNS) – For the world-renowned emblems of the Catholic faith, such as St. Teresa of Kolkata, elevation to sainthood comes fairly quickly following their deaths. For many others, the sainthood cause is a slow process that sometimes lurches to a stop. One example is Venerable Nelson Baker, the Buffalo, New York, priest who died in 1936 and is the only Civil War veteran with a sainthood cause. Father Baker, who served at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Buffalo after his ordination in 1876, was beloved in his lifetime for his charitable efforts for the poor, including serving thousands of meals during the depths of the Great Depression. Dubbed by local newspapers as “the padre of the poor,” he built the Basilica of Our Lady of Victory in Lackawanna, New York, an orphanage, a maternity hospital, a trade school and a home for infant care. The charitable work he began exists today as OLV Charities. Our Lady of Victory institutions include Homes of Charity, Baker Victory Services and Our Lady of Victory Elementary School. Born in 1842, Father Baker entered the priesthood after operating a successful feed and grain business with a partner. Before that, he served in the 74th Infantry of the New York State Militia, a unit that organized in the summer of 1863 and was stationed in Central Pennsylvania, although it didn’t see combat.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – During the month of November, Pope Francis is asking people to pray for children who are suffering because of poverty, war and exploitation. “Let us pray for children who are suffering, especially for those who are homeless, orphans and victims of war. May they be guaranteed access to education, and may they have the opportunity to experience family affection,” the pope said in a video released Oct. 31. In the video message released by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, the pope explained his November prayer intention: “For children who suffer.” “An abandoned child is our fault,” the pope said in the message. “Each marginalized child, abandoned by his or her family, without schooling, without health care, is a cry! A cry that rises up to God and shames the system that we adults have built,” he insisted. Pope Francis noted that there are millions of boys and girls around the world living “in conditions very similar to slavery.”
LIMA, Peru (CNS) – The church in Latin America and the Caribbean is called to be a missionary church that heeds the cry of the poor and excluded; a synodal church where women, young people and laypeople have greater roles; and a church that is evangelized even as it evangelizes, according to the final document of the church’s First Ecclesial Assembly held a year ago in Mexico. The document of reflections and pastoral challenges resulting from the assembly was released by leaders of the Latin American bishops’ council, CELAM, Oct. 31 during a news conference at the Vatican. The conference was livestreamed on various platforms. The publication reflects a desire for a church that “goes out to the periphery … a Samaritan church … a church that builds fraternity, which is grounded in love, in the encounter with those who suffer most,” Archbishop José Luis Azuaje of Maracaibo, Venezuela, president of Caritas in Latin America and the Caribbean, said in a video message at the presentation. The document is the fruit of a monthslong process that included a “listening” period from April to August 2021, during which some 70,000 people throughout the region provided input, followed by the weeklong assembly Nov. 21-28. That process, which echoed the methodology used for the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon in October 2019, made the ecclesial assembly “a practical laboratory” for the Synod of Bishops on synodality, which began with listening sessions this year, to be followed by meetings in Rome in 2023 and 2024, said Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos of Trujillo, Peru, CELAM president.
BANGKOK, Thailand (CNS) – Catholic bishops in Asia have committed themselves to engage with governments, nongovernmental agencies and civil organizations to respond to issues affecting the church and society in their work for a better Asia. “We believe that peace and reconciliation is the only way forward. We have envisaged new pathways for our ministry based on mutual listening and genuine discernment,” the bishops said in a statement issued Oct. 30, at the end of a two-week general conference. Ucanews.com reported the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences organized its first general conference as a part of its golden jubilee celebrations that brought together 20 cardinals, 120 bishops, 37 priests, eight nuns, and 41 laypeople. The conference, with the theme “Journeying Together as Peoples of Asia,” sought to reaffirm the federation’s work of the past 50 years aiming to “revitalize the church and envision new pathways of service.” One of the paths they identified was “bridge-building” among religions and traditions and also “principled engagement with governments” and nongovernmental agencies on issues of human rights, eradication of poverty, human trafficking, care of the earth, and other common concerns. “The escalating violence and conflicts” in Asia call “for dialogue and reconciliation,” the bishops said without naming any issue or any nation.