GROSSE POINTE FARMS, Mich. (OSV NEWS) – Tears were shed, words of consolation were shared, and memories were cherished the evening of Feb. 14 during two emotional prayer vigils to honor the memory of three Michigan State University students whose lives were cut short during a shooting on the East Lansing campus one night earlier. Two of the students, Brian Fraser and Alexandria Verner, belonged to Catholic parishes in Metro Detroit, while the third, Arielle Anderson, was a much-loved graduate of Grosse Pointe North High School. Father Jim Bilot led hundreds of mourners at St. Paul on the Lake Parish in Grosse Pointe Farms in a prayer vigil that featured a picture of Fraser, 20, a Michigan State sophomore and 2017 graduate of the parish school, surrounded by candles in the sanctuary. “We come to pray, and that is the most important and most powerful thing that we could do at this time,” Father Bilot said. Deacon Christopher Stark led a livestreamed rosary from the parish, while a candlelight vigil took place at Clawson City Park, attended by community members, teachers, students and staff from Clawson High School, where Verner graduated in 2020.

PHILADELPHIA (OSV News) – An unexploded pipe bomb found Feb. 19 near railroad tracks behind St. Dominic Catholic Church in Philadelphia was likely not meant to target the parish, pastor Father Edward T. Kearns told OSV News. “I don’t think it was in connection to us,” said Father Edward T. Kearns, pastor of St. Dominic parish in. “It was behind us, not on our property, (but) on the other side of the railroad tracks … 100 yards from my church.” The pipe bomb posed a potential threat to the Philadelphia freight line at a time when the U.S. is still grappling with the catastrophic impact of a Feb. 3 freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. At the same time, Father Kearns said he plans to meet with staff about increasing security at the church. “I don’t think (anyone) is out to get us,” Father Kearns told OSV News. “But you never know these days. There’s so much anger in the world.”

WASHINGTON (OSV News) – During Black History Month in February, Catholics are being invited to register to attend this summer’s National Black Catholic Congress, which over the years has made history of its own. The National Black Catholic Congress XIII will be held July 20-23 at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Maryland, just outside the District of Columbia. It marks the third time the Washington area has hosted the gathering, and each of those times, key participants included noted figures in U.S. Catholic history. Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory – the archbishop of Washington who was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis in 2020, becoming the first African American cardinal in history – will give the opening keynote speech and celebrate the opening Mass. Early registration for the National Black Catholic Congress XIII ends Feb. 28 and regular registration ends July 15,. For more information, including a schedule of events, and to register, go online to

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Tradition is a source of inspiration for seeking out new paths to take with Jesus and for avoiding the traps of stagnation or impromptu experimentation, Pope Francis said. “Jesus is himself the way, and therefore, both in the liturgical journey (of Lent) and in the journey of the synod, the church does nothing other than enter ever more deeply and fully into the mystery of Christ the savior,” the pope said in his message for Lent, which begins Feb. 22 for Latin-rite Catholics. Released by the Vatican Feb. 17, the text of the pope’s message focused on seeing Lenten penance and the synodal experience both as arduous journeys that lead to the wondrous experience of Christ’s divine light and splendor. “To deepen our knowledge of the Master, to fully understand and embrace the mystery of his salvation, accomplished in total self-giving inspired by love, we must allow ourselves to be taken aside by him and to detach ourselves from mediocrity and vanity,” the pope said. “We need to set out on the journey, an uphill path that, like a mountain trek, requires effort, sacrifice and concentration,” he said. “These requisites are also important for the synodal journey which, as a church, we are committed to making.” “During any strenuous mountain trek, we must keep our eyes firmly fixed on the path; yet the panorama that opens up at the end amazes us and rewards us by its grandeur,” Pope Francis wrote. The text of the pope’s message in English is online at

DAVID, Panama (OSV News) – Pope Francis has expressed sorrow for the victims of a bus crash in Panama, which claimed the lives of 39 migrants transiting the Central American country. In a Feb. 16 telegram to Cardinal José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán of David, Panama – whose diocese includes the site of the crash – Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said: “The Holy Father has received with deep sadness the news of the bus accident … in which several migrants have lost their lives and others were injured.” The tragedy occurred in the early morning hours of Feb. 15 in the western Panama province of Chiriquí. Panama’s immigration director Samira Gozaine told reporters the bus had entered a camp for migrants and the driver was turning the vehicle around when it slid down an embankment. The driver was among the victims, Gozaine said. The deaths were a tragic reminder of the perils faced by migrants traveling through Central America and Mexico on their journey toward the U.S. border.