Diario salvadoreño describe milagro del beato Romero

Por Rhina Guidos
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Representantes de la iglesia en El Salvador dijeron que esperarían un tiempo antes de dar más detalles sobre un milagro, aprobado por el Vaticano, que ha avanzado el camino para la canonización del beato Óscar Romero, pero un periódico salvadoreño publicó el 8 de marzo una nota de una mujer de 35 años que dijo que la oración de su esposo, pidiendo por la intercesión del beato Romero, le salvó la vida.
El periódico El Diario de Hoy, que publica la versión ElSalvador.com por internet, dijo que una mujer llamada Cecilia había tenido en agosto del 2015 problemas con su embarazo. Después de dar a luz, se le diagnosticó el síndrome HELLP, una condición potencialmente mortal que afecta a algunas mujeres embarazadas y daña el hígado.
La nota del periódico dice que un médico le dijo al esposo de Cecilia que su hígado y un riñón estaban dañados y, “si cree en algo, en un dios, pídale por ella, porque, así como está, lo más seguro es que se muera”.
El esposo dijo que se fue a su casa a rezar, abrió una Biblia que su abuela le había dado, vio una tarjeta con la imagen del beato Romero, y aunque había tenido una “aversión” por las oraciones de su abuela al arzobispo salvadoreño asesinado, rezó por su intercesión, según el periódico.
Aunque Cecilia estaba en coma, se recuperó por completo, dijo el periódico.
Los esposos le dijeron al periódico que sabían que era un milagro y decidieron no contarle nada a nadie, pero eventualmente confiaron en su párroco, quien aseguró la documentación para enviarla al Vaticano. El 7 de marzo, el Vaticano anunció que se había aprobado el decreto del milagro atribuido a la intercesión del beato Romero.
El beato Romero fue asesinado el 24 de marzo de 1980, mientras celebraba Misa tras varias denuncias públicas de violencia contra ciudadanos civiles, incluso muchos pobres, en el país centroamericano. Había hablado en contra de la injusticia hacia los pobres que llevaría a El Salvador a un conflicto que duraría 12 años y dejaría más de 70,000 muertos. Fue beatificado el 23 de mayo de 2015.
En una reunión el 6 de marzo con el cardenal Angelo Amato, prefecto de la Congregación para las Causas de los Santos, el papa Francisco firmó formalmente el decreto reconociendo el milagro necesario para avanzar la causa de santidad del beato Romero. No se ha anunciado ninguna fecha para su canonización.

Una joven mujer sostiene una imagen del Beato Oscar Romero durante una procesión del 7 de marzo en su honor en San Salvador, El Salvador. El Papa Francisco ha despejado el camino para la canonización del Beato Romero, quien fue asesinado a tiros el 24 de marzo de 1980, mientras celebraba misa. (Foto CNS / Rodrigo Sura, EPA)

Encuentro regional avanza el proceso de identificación de las prioridades del ministerio

Por Tom Tracy
MIAMI (CNS) – El director y presidente de Catholic Relief Services, Sean Callahan, dijo a varios cientos de líderes hispanos recientemente que son una parte vital de la futura “voz global” de la iglesia y del discipulado misionero.
“La afirmación que ves en las carteleras todo el tiempo es ‘Cuando ves algo, di algo.’ Pero para los discípulos misioneros, debe ser ‘Cuando ves algo, haz algo,'” dijo Callahan. “Necesitamos ser percibidos como los hacedores y hay una gran oportunidad en este momento para que la Iglesia Católica sea una fuerza por el derecho y la justicia en un país de personas que quieren justicia,” dijo.
Callahan, un veterano de 28 años de CRS, habló el 23 de febrero a más de 340 líderes hispanos reunidos de entre unas 30 diócesis que forman parte del Encuentro Regional del Sureste. Grupos de toda la región cinco se reunieron en Miami del 22 al 24 de febrero en Miami.
Una delegación de la Diócesis de Jackson asistió, llevando los resultados de las prioridades pastorales. Delegada Danna Johnson de Pontotoc San Cristóbal, dijo que la formación de la fe sigue siendo crítica.
“En el área de ‘Desarrollo de liderazgo y capacitación pastoral,’ una de las estrategias que se identificó como región fue la de incrementar la disponibilidad de programas de formación pastoral dirigidos a los latinos en los dos idiomas (inglés y español) o más, dependiendo de las necesidades de cada parroquia. Uno de los programas más éxitos en la región es el programa de educación teológica online en español CAMINO y también en inglés STEP, ambos del Instituto McGrath para la Vida de la Iglesia de la Universidad de Notre Dame. Diócesis como las de Carolina del Sur y Lexington, Kentucky han implementado este programa y les está dando muchos buenos resultados. Me entusiasma el hecho de que esta estrategia está muy conectada con una de las prioridades del Plan Pastoral de nuestra diócesis, ‘Formación de discípulos comprometidos,’” agregó Johnson.
Maria Isamar Mazy, feligresa de la Catedral de San Pedro en Jackson, sentía orgullo de tener la oportunidad de ser parte de una misión tan importante en la Iglesia. “Estos tres días me ayudaron a ver más a fondo las realidades y necesidades de nuestra Iglesia, no solo de aquí en la diócesis. Me dio mucho gusto y orgullo poder formar y ser parte de ese momento histórico para nosotros los hispanos en este país, no me queda duda de que nuestras voces son escuchadas.”
La hermana María Elena Méndez, MGSPS, asociada en la Oficina del Ministerio Hispano de la Diócesis de Jackson, siente que hay mucho que celebrar, pero aún queda mucho trabajo por hacer. “El Encuentro Regional me ayudó a incorporarme en el camino que otros han hecho para dar voz e identidad a los hispanos en este país desde la Diócesis de Jackson donde desarrollo mi misión pastoral como Misionera Guadalupana del Espírito Santo. Descubrí también los muchos dones, capacidades, talentos y retos que tenemos dentro de la sociedad y la Iglesia de los Estados Unidos. Estar a cargo del Proceso del V Encuentro en la Diócesis y, ser pate del equipo de la Región V, me ayudó a ver que hay mucho que celebrar y mucho que trabajar aun en nuestra comunidad. Ver nuestras necesidades reflejadas en los documentos regionales fue impresionante, porque no somos los únicos que estamos trabajamos para su transformación.”
Delegada Susana Becerril, feligresa de Nuestra Señora de las Victorias en Cleveland apreció la diversidad que se muestra en el V Encuentro. “El V Encuentro significó para mí un despertar a la realidad que miles de personas enfrenan día con día. Fue un Encuentro con la gran diversidad que existe en nuestro mundo. Me gustó mucho convivir con personas tan diferentes, cada uno/a con un origen y costumbres tan bonitos que me hicieron apreciar aún más mi cultura, ellos me enseñaron que están orgullosos/as de sus orígenes, tradiciones, y sobre todo, de su fe.”
Debido a que se han llevado a cabo encuentros a niveles parroquiales y diocesanos, se llevarán a cabo encuentros regionales en todo el país hasta junio. Lo que ha sido un proceso general de reflexión y acción de cuatro años culminará con el V Encuentro Nacional de la Iglesia Católica de los E.E.U.U., se celebrará el 20 al 23 de septiembre en Grapevine, Texas.

(Tracy escribe para el Florida Catholic, periódico de la Arquidiócesis de Miami.)

MIAMI – Participants in the regional Encuentro pray the Way of the Cross for Life during the Feb. 22-23 gathering. (Photo courtesy SEPI)

Eva Gonzalez, Hispanic ministry director from the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., speaks Feb. 23 with Susana Becerrie of Jackson, Miss., at the Southeast Regional Encuentro. Held for the church's episcopal regions V and XIV, the gathering took place Feb. 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church's parish complex. On hand were 340 leaders from among some 30 dioceses in the Southeastern U.S. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy) See ENCUENTRO-REGIONALS-SOUTHEASTERN Feb. 26, 2018.

Piarist Father Rafael Capo, director of the Miami-based Southeastern Pastoral Institute, talks with Eva Gonzalez, Hispanic ministry director from the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., Feb. 23 during the Southeast Regional Encuentro for the church's episcopal regions V and XIV. Held in Miami Feb. 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish complex, it drew 340 leaders from among some 30 dioceses in the Southeastern U.S. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy) See ENCUENTRO-REGIONALS-SOUTHEASTERN Feb. 26, 2018.

Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, speaks Feb. 23 during the Southeast Regional Encuentro for the church's episcopal regions V and XIV. Held in Miami Feb. 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish complex, it drew 340 leaders from among some 30 dioceses in the Southeastern U.S. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy) See ENCUENTRO-REGIONALS-SOUTHEASTERN Feb. 26, 2018.

Retired pope calls criticism against Pope Francis ‘foolish prejudice’

By Junno Arocho
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – On the eve of the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ election, retired Pope Benedict XVI defended the continuity of the church’s teaching under his successor and dismissed those who criticize the pope’s theological foundations.
In a letter sent to Msgr. Dario Vigano, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for Communication, Pope Benedict applauded the publication of a new book series titled, “The Theology of Pope Francis.”
“It contradicts the foolish prejudice of those who see Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical formation, while I would have been considered solely a theorist of theology with little understanding of the concrete lives of today’s Christian,” the retired pontiff wrote.
The Secretariat for Communication released a photograph of the letter in which the final lines of the first page were blurred. While Pope Benedict said early in the letter that he hoped the 11 volumes would put an end to the “foolish prejudice” against Pope Francis, in the blurred lines the retired pope said he could not write a complete theological reflection on the 11 volumes because he had not read them and would be physically unable to do so in time for the presentation of the volumes to the public.
Msgr. Vigano read from the letter, including the blurred lines, during a presentation of the 11-volume series March 12.
The Vatican press office did not say why the lines were blurred, but said the Vatican never intended to publish the complete text. In fact, the second page of the letter – except for Pope Benedict’s signature, is covered by books.
Before reading the letter, Msgr. Vigano said he sent a message to Pope Francis and Pope Benedict regarding the publication of the book series.
He also asked if Pope Benedict would be “willing to write a page or a page and a half of dense theology in his clear and punctual style that (we) would have liked to read this evening.”
Instead, the retired pontiff “wrote a beautiful, personal letter that I will read to you,” Msgr. Vigano said.
Pope Benedict thanked Msgr. Vigano for having given him a copy of “The Theology of Pope Francis” book series, which was authored by several notable theologians.
“These small volumes reasonably demonstrate that Pope Francis is a man with profound philosophical and theological formation and are helpful to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament,” he wrote.
Pope Benedict has made no secret of his affection for and admiration of Pope Francis.
During a Vatican celebration for the 65th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s priestly ordination June 28, 2016, the retired pope expressed his sincere gratefulness to Pope Francis, saying that his goodness “from the first moment of your election, in every moment of my life here, touches me deeply.”
“More than the beauty found in the Vatican Gardens, your goodness is the place where I live; I feel protected,” Pope Benedict said.

(Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.)

U.S. Catholic schools pray, march during National School Walkout

By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Catholic school students across the country prayed with their school communities for school shooting victims or joined marches protesting gun violence March 14 during the National School Walkout, a student-led response to the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. All schools in the Diocese of Jackson were out for Spring Break.
In the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, more than 100 Highland Catholic middle school students, teachers and parents gathered on the school’s front steps in St. Paul for 17 minutes of silence and prayer. They lit 17 blue candles in memory of those who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and held signs in honor of each deceased individual.
“We’re honoring the lives that were lost,” said seventh-grader Maddie Haider. She and fellow middle school student Lily Anderson organized the prayer service. Students also wrote petitions, which were prayed in the gym following the time of silence outside.

Student Stefania Lutus lights a votive candle during a solidarity and remembrance service at St. Francis Preparatory School in the Queens borough of New York March 14. The 2,500-student high school community gathered to pray for the victims of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and for an end to gun violence. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz) See CATHOLIC-SCHOOLS-WALKOUT-PRAYER March 13, 2014, and SCHOOL-WALKOUT-DON-BOSCO March 14, 2018.

“We’ve been learning about Catholic social teaching and the life and the dignity of the human person,” Anderson said. “After that shooting, we just felt that it needed to be fixed and thought that we’d do something about it.”
Other Catholic schools around the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis held similar observances March 14. Providence Academy in Plymouth also offered a symposium after school for juniors and seniors to discuss gun violence.
The decision to hold a prayer service for peace in the wake of the Florida school shooting was an easy one for students at Christian Brothers College High School in St. Louis. Determining the place to have the service was even easier – the Blessed Mother Grotto, in front of Our Lady of Peace.
The prayer service was organized by students and led by the school’s campus minister, Dominican Father DePorres Durham, who told students this was the chance to recognize their pain and anxiety and “give voice to our suffering after the senseless act of another school shooting.”
The students and staff members who attended the prayer service, many wearing hoodies on a chilly but sunny morning, circled around the grotto on a high point of the campus overlooking the football stadium. They listened as the names of 27 schools impacted by shootings were read aloud and then were silent before reading reflections and praying the Our Father.
The presenters urged students to write a commitment to action and place it in a basket in the chapel. The suggestions included reaching out to someone at the school who may be experiencing difficulties or is picked on, expressing love and care to a family member, and more.
Danny White, a senior, said the prayer service was intended to show unity. “This was not about political action,” he said. “This was about standing in solidarity. As a Catholic school, we stand in solidarity through prayer and offering guidance from God.”
Father Durham said the grotto was selected because it is “a prayer place” and a site that has a long school tradition. “While this is obviously a very complex problem, one way we can begin is to simply treat each other better,” the campus minister said. “It begins with recognizing the dignity of everybody we live with and that we are responsible for each other.”
Students at Cardinal Ritter College Preparatory High School in St. Louis took to the streets for about an hour in support of the Parkland students.
Wearing orange arm bands or orange shirts, students, faculty and staff members marched about three-quarters of a mile carrying posters with messages such as “#StopTheViolence,” “Enough is enough” and “Blessed are the children.”
Posters remembered the victims in Florida and victims of gun violence in St. Louis. Freshman Malachi Davis made a poster with a photo of 17-year-old Nicholas Dworet from Parkland, accompanied by snippets of Nicholas’ plan after high school to pursue competitive swimming this fall in college.
The poster project drove home the harsh reality that Dworet “was really dead,” Davis said, adding that creating the poster “was hard. He didn’t deserve to lose his life. … I’m sure he didn’t wake up in morning thinking, ‘I’m going to die today.'”
He likewise couldn’t imagine the shooter “waking up thinking that he’s going to shoot another person and take their life. … It’s really sad. It makes me really think about life,” he added.

Presentation Academy students stand arm in arm on the sidewalk in downtown Louisville, Ky., after walking out of class at 10 a.m. March 14 to call attention to gun violence. They were among thousands around the nation who participated in a National School Walkout. (CNS photo/Marnie McAllister, The Record) See CATHOLIC-SCHOOLS-WALKOUT-PRAYER March 13, 2014, and SCHOOL-WALKOUT-DON-BOSCO March 14, 2018.

Students at Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey, made prayer the focal point of their gatherings during the National School Walkout.
“Let’s pray for God to empower us to be the voices for those who cannot speak,” said Eileen Hart, moderator of the Celebrate Life Club at Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.
Trenton Bishop David M. O’Connell joined the students in prayer and said he was “deeply moved” to do so.

(Contributing to this report was Matthew Davis in St. Paul, Joseph Kenny in St. Louis and Jennifer Mauro in Trenton.)

Mississippi abortion ban signed, blocked

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Not even 24-hours after Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a new abortion ban into law, a federal judge issued an injunction against it. On Monday, March 19, Governor Bryant signed into law the most restrictive state abortion bill in the nation because it banned abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The owner of the state’s only abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, filed suit immediately after Bryant signed the bill, claiming it is unconstitutional. An attorney for the clinic said a woman who was 15-weeks pregnant was scheduled for an abortion in the afternoon of March 20. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves granted a 10-day injunction, asking both sides to file briefs on whether he should next issue an injunction or open a trial in this case.
“We Catholic bishops of Mississippi wish to reaffirm the sacredness of human life from conception until natural death,” said Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson and Bishop Louis F. Kihneman III of Biloxi in a Feb. 8 statement. “With Pope St. John Paul II, we recognize abortion as ‘a most serious wound inflicted on society and its culture by the very people who ought to be society’s promoters and defenders.'”
The bishops issued their joint statement after the Mississippi House passed the measure 75-34 in February. The state Senate passed H.B. 1510 March 6 in a 35-14 vote.

Ron Leaderhook stands at the gate of Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Monday, March 19, at the same time Governor Phil Bryant signed into law the nation’s toughest abortion ban. Leaderhook, a member of Dayspring Baptist Church in Clinton, is part of the 40 Days for Life group who regularly pray and offer support to women at the clinic– the last abortion clinic in the state. (Photo by Maureen Smith/Mississippi Catholic)

In commending the state’s lawmakers, Bishops Kopacz and Kihneman also criticized lawmakers in Congress who let the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act fail in the House of Representatives.
In a March 16 podcast, Bryant had anticipated the suit against the new law but said he expects to win in court, no matter how high the case goes in the courts.
“We will go to the (U.S. Court of Appeals for the) 5th Circuit – which is traditionally more conservative on appeal – than some of the others around the nation. And if we go all the way to the Supreme Court, we are willing to do that,” he said.
The Supreme Court has ruled in the past against abortion laws involving babies who could not survive outside the womb, which would include the Mississippi ban.
“We are protecting the unborn children in this state, many of whom are minorities, many of whom are female, obviously who are, at 15 weeks, moving in their mother’s womb. They are kicking, they have developed taste buds, their eyelids are moving, their hands and feet have been formed,” Bryant said.
“This is a human being at 15 weeks and we are going about protecting women and minorities from being torn apart by one of these later term abortions,” he added.
The law does not exempt pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. There are only two exceptions to the ban: if an unborn child has health problems that would make him or her “incompatible with life” outside of the womb at full term, or if a pregnant woman’s life or a “major bodily function” is threatened by continuing the pregnancy.
The Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life organization, praised Bryant and state lawmakers “for their commitment to making Mississippi ‘the safest place in America’ for unborn children and their mothers.”
The organization’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, described Mississippi as being “at the vanguard of the growing momentum to bring our laws back into line with basic human decency. It is one of 20 states that have passed popular, compassionate legislation to stop cruel late-term abortions after five months.”
She continued, “Our nation’s permissive regime of abortion on-demand at any point in pregnancy established in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton has made the United States a global outlier and does not reflect the will of most Americans – especially where late-term abortions are concerned. Absolutely nothing was settled.”
Dannenfelser called the status quo on abortion “unjust” and “untenable.” “It is in states like Mississippi where the greatest progress toward righting it is being made,” she added. “It is about time the courts caught up.”
The afternoon the bill was signed, a member of the 40 Days for Life prayer team stood at the entrance to Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Ron Leaderhook, a member of Dayspring Community Church in Clinton, said he tries to show the love of God to everyone he meets there, whether it be staff or clients.
This is not the only abortion case making its way through the nation’s court system.
A case before the Supreme Court will consider if a California law that went into effect in 2016 violates the U.S. Constitution by requiring the state’s 200 crisis pregnancy centers to inform their clients, in specific detail, about the availability of free or low-cost abortion and contraceptive services and provide a referral number for them.
The law in question, called the Reproductive FACT Act, says centers must post such notices in areas where they will be clearly seen on paper that is “at least 8.5 inches by 11 inches and written in no less than 22-point type.” Centers also are required to disclose in their advertisements if they have medical personnel on staff. Some centers provide counseling and offer supplies of diapers, formula, clothes and baby items. Centers that fail to comply are subject to fines of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

(Catholic News Service contributed to this story.)

Immigrants, advocates navigating post-DACA-deadline landscape

By Mark Pattison
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The last government shutdown – well, threatened shutdown, anyway – seems so long ago.
The nine-hour “funding lapse” of Feb. 9, like the three-day shutdown that began Jan. 20, hinged on how Congress was going to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that President Donald Trump said he would end March 5. He also called on Congress to pass a measure to save the program, created in 2012 by President Barack Obama via executive order.
In the January shutdown, Democratic lawmakers backed down on their threat to keep the government closed until a DACA deal was reached. In the February funding lapse, Democrats and Republicans agreed to conduct a debate and vote on DACA in the weeks to come, as a six-week continuing resolution to keep the government funded through March 23 was overshadowed by the $1 trillion spending package of which it was a part.
The congressional sidestepping of DACA prompted the U.S. bishops to declare a “National Call-In Day to Protect Dreamers” for Feb. 26, one week before the program’s expiration date. The day resulted in thousands of phone calls to lawmakers.
That, in turn, was overshadowed by the Supreme Court declining that same day a request by the administration to bypass federal appellate courts and rule on whether the administration has the right to shut down DACA.
The justices’ action wiped out the March 5 deadline date, leaving DACA up and running at least until the high court accepts the case for the appeals court – and possibly renders a decision – or until Congress finally deals with it. The high court’s action only keeps DACA intact for those currently with DACA status; two federal judges have blocked Trump, saying the administration must continue to accept renewal applications for the program. The rulings do not make DACA available to those who had not already applied for it.
While the exact path ahead is unclear, at least there is a path.
“I think a lot of people feel a little insecure, they don’t feel safe and they’re unsure what’s going to happen because things are up in the air,” said Michelle Sardone, director of strategic initiatives for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network.
“They’re feeling fear about whether or not to apply: ‘Will the government use information they have on me to use against me?’ If you submit your application with the application fee, will it be adjudicated or … will it be a waste of your money?” Sardone said. “Each person has a particular case. They should go to an accredited legal services provider to find out the best situation for them and for their family.”
“We just buried a man in his 60s who came from Ireland in a house with no electricity, no plumbing. He came over to the U.S. without a trade, became a pipe fitter and a coach,” said Mary Harkenrider, a member of the Southside Catholic Peace and Justice Committee in Chicago, which sponsored a forum March 1 to show support for the city’s DACA holders.
In talking to Catholic News Service, she used the example of this Irishman to illustrate what immigrants bring to this country.
“As a coach and a family man, he affected people throughout the city and across the country and at his funeral there were thousands of people who pay respect to this immigrant, who came to this country without a STEM education or highly advanced skills,” Harkenrider added. 
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Some arguing for the reform of U.S. immigration laws say preference should be given to the highly educated immigrants.
She added: “We would be amiss without the talents of the immigrants in our communities. … whether it’s the Irish or the Polish or the Hispanic. I think we have to continue to recognize our history and build on it.”
Chicago, Harkenrider said, is “a city of immigrants.”
Nor is Chicago the only town that can claim that mantle. Camden, New Jersey, is such a town. Mexican-born Monica Perez Reyes, 20, has lived there since her parents brought her to the United States at age two. They entered the country without legal documents. She has kid sisters born in the United States who are U.S. citizens. As for Perez, “I’m good for two years” with DACA.
She admits to frustration with Congress, though. “I’m kind of offended. They’re sort of playing around with my future,” she said. “And the manner they’re handling it, one day they may say they’ll do something to make it better like have a path to citizens, ship, but the next day they say they’re going to terminate it altogether.”
Perez added, “I know some people are scared, but I’m not necessarily scared unless something is set in stone. I have a plan A, a plan B, a plan C. If worse comes to worst, I have a plan; I’ll have to go to Mexico and make my new life there.”
She was accepted to study art at a California college, but her status as an immigrant without documents left her ineligible to receive scholarship money. So Perez is attending community college in Camden while planning to major in art therapy, working to make money to pay her tuition.

Activists and recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, march up Broadway in New York City Feb. 15 during the start of their “Walk to Stay Home,” a five-day 250-mile walk from New York to Washington to demand that Congress pass a clean DREAM Act to save the program. (CNS photo/Shannon Stapleton, Reuters) See SCOTUS-DACA and DACA-CALL-IN-ADVOCATES Feb. 26, 2018.

Another such town of immigrants is Pasadena, Maryland. Hector Guzman, 19, also born in Mexico, was brought here by his parents, he said, when he was a year old. A soccer goalie and midfielder, a German scout recommended he go to England to try out for professional soccer there. He had to decline. “I could get there on my Mexican passport, but I couldn’t come back,” he said.
Guzman has his own plan B. Like Perez’s, it involves going to a community college and working as a butcher and chef to pay tuition. He’ll add landscaping work as the weather warms. He’s starting up a small business already. At some point, he said, he’d like to open a restaurant, maybe several of them, “and maybe have a ranch or a farm.” He said the DACA process was easy.
Patricia Zapor, a CLINIC spokeswoman, said a January check of DACA applications showed the government was still processing applications from 2016. Renewals ordinarily took two to three months; Zapor said without DACA, immigrants in the country without legal permission cannot legally work in the United States.
Guzman said he’s not worried. “My parents are a little worried,” he said. An older sister, who like him has DACA status, “doesn’t act like she’s worried,” he added.
With the days winding down until Trump’s original March 5 deadline, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said the upper chamber would debate a banking bill in early March, making no mention of DACA – deferred action, indeed.
How to deal with this interim period is “tricky, right?” said Ian Pajer-Rogers, communications and political director for Interfaith Worker Justice, which has more than 30 affiliated worker centers around the country.
“We have taken the position that only a clean DREAM Act will do with no riders or add-ons from the right – no wall, no border security measures. We’ll continue that. Where that leaves us with the party in power and the party that is trying to negotiate for our people, the Democrats, is less clear.” 
The DREAM Act he referred to stands for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. The bill is what gives DACA recipients the “Dreamer” name.
Anxiety among DACA families cuts both ways, he said. “What I’ve seen among the undocumented folks is a very willingness to self-sacrifice. Among the DACA recipients I’ve worked with they don’t want to trade their parents’ safety and security for their own. … I think you find the parents who are willing to say the opposite, almost. They’re willing to see more enforcement and risk detention if their kids are safe. We’re really going for the starting point that all are protected.”
“The more pressing thing might be the (Feb. 26) Supreme Court ruling,” Pajer-Rogers said, “that folks who are in detention can be detained indefinitely without bond. So if there’s something on the mind of workers today, it’s probably that.”

Coping with school shootings: surreal part of U.S. students’ routine

By Carol Zimmermann
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Students in schools across the country have to navigate their way around classes, exams, relationships, cliques, cafeteria food and crowded hallways.
They also have to think about what they would do if someone with a gun came into their school, which seems all the more possible after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The students there now enter brand-new terrain that only students from schools where mass shootings have taken place have any idea about. When classes resumed at Stoneman Douglas on a modified schedule Feb. 28, they faced all their usual routines and challenges right up against the horrific memories of the fear and loss of just two weeks before.
At first, many of these students channeled their raw grief into gun control activism. They gave speeches at vigils and numerous television interviews; they marched and planned bigger marches. They challenged political leaders and businesses associated with the National Rifle Association to do more to stop the carnage they had witnessed. They coined a movement name – #NeverAgain – and spread its message on social media.
But these students – for all their passion and eloquence on camera – also have admitted to reporters that they have a hard time sleeping, or don’t want to be alone or are afraid of sudden noises.
And all of that and more is straight out of books and studies on post-traumatic stress symptoms after what they just experienced.
“What these students have gone through is unfathomable. I think it will be incredibly difficult to cope and move on,” said Rachel Annunziato, an associate professor of psychology at Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York. She said each student will have to find the support they need and to try different coping strategies. For now, she said: “the activism they are showing is heroic and may well help with coping as it could decrease a sense of helplessness and it also strengthens their support network. ‘
The high school has provided grief counselors to students and families since the shooting took place and Annunziato said that will need to continue.
“Some people, miraculously, are very resilient,” she said, but others can have a harder time and need help to connect with others to find healing.
She also told Catholic News Service that the impact of this shooting extends far beyond Parkland, as also was proven by research after the 9/11 terrorist attacks when those impacted by the events were not just the people who directly experienced it. For example, her own 7-year-old sons in New York have talked about the school shooting in Florida and said the students are scared.
In the Diocese of Jackson, School Superintendent Catherine Cook sent a letter to all schools to send to parents. “Please know that the safety of your children, faculty, staff and visitors to our schools is of the utmost importance and steps have been taken to keep them free from harm. Be assured that any and all threats of violence against an individual and/or the school community are taken seriously and will be investigated. School administration consults law enforcement and legal counsel, as needed, to apply appropriate measures for the safety of all,” it reads. The letter urges parents not to believe rumors and assures them they will receive communication from the schools if a threat should arise.
The day after the shooting, the National Catholic Educational Association issued a statement with a link to a prayer service in response to a school shooting and articles about how to talk to kids about these events and turning to God in times of tragedy.
As students nationwide – and particularly in Parkland – consider moving forward, there is one person with particular insight into this situation.
Frank DeAngelis, principal at Columbine High School from 1996 to 2014, was principal at the Littleton, Colorado, school during the 1999 school shooting that killed 12 students and one teacher. Recently retired, he is now an international speaker about school violence and its impact on communities.
USA Today reported that he already has given some advice to Ty Thompson, the Stoneman Douglas principal, telling him: “It’s the things you don’t even think about, things that will trigger the emotions. Teachers won’t know what to expect. It’s a day-by-day experience.”
And the day before the Florida shooting, DeAngelis, who is Catholic, gave a talk at Gregorian Court University, a school founded by the Mercy sisters in Lakeland, New Jersey.
He told students and faculty not only about the horror of the 1999 school shooting but also of the long and difficult road to recovery afterward, even for him.
He said he struggled with survivor guilt – and still does. He wasn’t even sure he would make it after the shooting but was urged on by his pastor, Msgr. Kenneth Leone of St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Littleton.
The priest, who is now retired, told Angelis he had a “spiritual imperative” to rebuild the community. That inspired him at first to stay at the job until 2002, when all the students in the freshman class of 1999 graduated, but he ended up continuing as principal until 2014, when the children who were in their earliest school year in 1999, graduated.
At the New Jersey college, the retired principal said a key aspect to finding healing at the high school so marred by tragedy was reaching out to those who felt marginalized.
To illustrate that each student was “loved and included and that they were an indispensable link,” he gave each one a link in a chain that they forged together.
Today, he said, the chain remains for all to see in a prominent place in the school.

(Contributing to this report was Lois Rogers, who writes for The Monitor, newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton.)

Regional Encuentro advances process of identifying ministry priorities

By Tom Tracy
MIAMI (CNS) – The head of Catholic Relief Services told several hundred Hispanic leaders from the U.S. Southeast recently that they are a vital part of the church’s future “global voice” and missionary discipleship.
“The statement you see on signs all the time now is ‘when you see something, say something,’ and to be a missionary disciple it is ‘when you see something, do something,'” said Sean Callahan, president and CEO of CRS, the U.S. Catholic Church’s overseas relief and development agency.
“We need to be seen as the doers, and there is a great opportunity right now for the Catholic Church to come together and be more of a force for right and for justice in a country of people who want justice,” he said.
Callahan, a 28-year veteran of CRS in his second year of leadership at the Baltimore-based agency, spoke Feb. 23 to more than 340 mostly Hispanic leaders gathered from among some 30 dioceses that are part of the Southeastern Regional Encuentro comprising church’s episcopal regions V and XIV.
A delegation from the Diocese of Jackson attended, taking with them the results of parish-level and diocesan gatherings identifying the priorities of the Diocese of Jackson. One of the delegates, Danna Johnson from Pontotoc St. Christopher Parish, said faith formation remains critical.
“In the area of ‘leadership development and pastoral training,’ the strategy that was identified as a region is to increase programs of pastoral formation for Latinos in both languages (English and Spanish) or more, depending on the needs of each parish,” said Johnson. “The online theological education program in Spanish CAMINO and in English STEP from the University of Notre Dame is one of the most successful pastoral programs in the region. Dioceses from South Carolina and Lexington, Kentucky, have implemented these programs and are getting great results. I am excited that this regional strategy is connected with one of the priorities of Pastoral Plan of our Diocese of Jackson, which is ‘the life-long formation of intentional disciples,'” Johnson added.
Groups from all across region five met in Miami February 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish’s sprawling complex just west of Miami International Airport.
Since 2015, CRS has been one of four major sponsors of the encuentro, which is described as the most important and comprehensive initiative in Hispanic ministry ever undertaken by the Catholic Church in the United States. The initiative involves an estimated 1 million pastoral leaders, 175 dioceses and numerous church organizations, parishes and lay ecclesial movements.
Now that parish- and diocesan-level encuentros have taken place, regional encuentros will be going on around the country through June. What has been an overall four-year process of reflection and action will culminate with the U.S. Catholic Church’s Fifth National Encuentro, or “V Encuentro,” to be held Sept. 20-23 in Grapevine, Texas.
The U.S. church’s First National Encuentro was in 1972. For the upcoming V Encuentro, 163 dioceses and archdioceses and more than 2,500 parishes across the country are involved.
Callahan told the Florida Catholic, Miami’s archdiocesan newspaper, that the gathering in South Florida represented a significant moment of encounter for CRS and U.S. Hispanic Catholic leadership, and that CRS is interested in listening as the encuentro participants discuss and define their future role as Hispanic Catholics in America.
“This is the first encuentro we have been so involved with this intimately,” he said. “As we have seen the U.S. becoming more and more Hispanic, we thought it would be important for us to understand what people feel the direction of the church should be, and then how can we be a part of it,” he said.
“And one of the strengths (of this partnership) is bringing the voice of the American people overseas to people in difficult situations and letting people know that they are not alone and that people here care about them and share that solidity,” he said of the work of CRS. “We want to see where that part of the church comes out in this encuentro process.”
“In many cases, people are being forced out from where they are, and our job is to allow people to stay where they want to stay with safety and security for their family with the right to employment,” he said. “The Northern Triangle is one area that we really want to intervene and reduce violence and give people other opportunities,” Callahan said of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Venezuela, he added, is a key country where there is a lot of turmoil, the inflation has gone up, the people are in a dire situation, “and so we work with Caritas International and Caritas Venezuela as a lead organization so we can provide greater assistance to the people of Venezuela,” he said.
CRS now works in some 110 countries and assists 137 million people annually, he noted, adding that large scale migration trends from Africa into Europe will continue to be a source of humanitarian challenges in the coming decades.

(Tracy writes for the Florida Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Miami.)

Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, speaks Feb. 23 during the Southeast Regional Encuentro for the church's episcopal regions V and XIV. Held in Miami Feb. 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish complex, it drew 340 leaders from among some 30 dioceses in the Southeastern U.S. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy) See ENCUENTRO-REGIONALS-SOUTHEASTERN Feb. 26, 2018.

Eva Gonzalez, Hispanic ministry director from the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., speaks Feb. 23 with Susana Becerrie of Jackson, Miss., at the Southeast Regional Encuentro. Held for the church's episcopal regions V and XIV, the gathering took place Feb. 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church's parish complex. On hand were 340 leaders from among some 30 dioceses in the Southeastern U.S. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy) See ENCUENTRO-REGIONALS-SOUTHEASTERN Feb. 26, 2018.

Piarist Father Rafael Capo, director of the Miami-based Southeastern Pastoral Institute, talks with Eva Gonzalez, Hispanic ministry director from the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., Feb. 23 during the Southeast Regional Encuentro for the church's episcopal regions V and XIV. Held in Miami Feb. 22-24 at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish complex, it drew 340 leaders from among some 30 dioceses in the Southeastern U.S. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy) See ENCUENTRO-REGIONALS-SOUTHEASTERN Feb. 26, 2018.

MIAMI – Participants in the regional Encuentro pray the Way of the Cross for Life during the Feb. 22-23 gathering. (Photo courtesy SEPI)

Nation, Wold and Vatican news

NATION
Florida school shooting an act of ‘horrifying evil,’ says Miami archbishop
MIAMI (CNS) – Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski urged community members to come together “to support one another in this time of grief” after a shooting rampage Feb. 14 at a Broward County high school left at least 17 people dead. “With God’s help, we can remain strong and resolute to resist evil in all its manifestations,” the archbishop said in a statement. “May God heal the brokenhearted and comfort the sorrowing as we once again face as a nation another act of senseless violence and horrifying evil.” In a late-night telegram to Archbishop Wenski, Pope Francis assured “all those affected by this devastating attack of his spiritual closeness.” “With the hope that such senseless acts of violence may cease,” he invoked “divine blessings of peace and strength” on the South Florida community. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called for prayer and healing and urged all work for a society “with fewer tragedies caused by senseless gun violence.” Law enforcement officials identified the shooting suspect as 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons from the school where he opened fire, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

U.S. bishops who’ve seen gun violence up close call for end to ‘madness’
WASHINGTON (CNS) – Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput knows all too well the pain left behind after incidents like the 2018 Valentine’s Day shooting that has so far taken 17 lives at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. As archbishop in Denver, he took part in the funerals of Catholic high school students killed by fellow classmates at Columbine High School almost two decades ago. The Feb. 14 Florida killings, which authorities suspect were perpetrated by Nikolas Cruz, a former classmate of many of the dead, seemed to bring back the pain of April 20, 1999. “I sat with the parents of children murdered in the Columbine High School massacre, and buried some of their dead,” Archbishop Chaput said in statement released a day after the Florida high school shootings. “Nothing seems to change, no matter how brutal the cost. Terrible things happen; pious statements are released and the nation goes back to its self-absorbed distractions.” The Washington Post reported Feb. 15 that an analysis of online archives, state and federal enrollment figures, and news stories revealed that “more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus” since the massacre perpetrated by senior high school students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine.

Archbishop: Church’s Christian anthropology is basis for social teachings
INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) – The Catholic response to today’s widely debated societal issues – from abortion to immigration to racism – must be rooted in the church’s fundamental teaching about human dignity and the “destiny of the human person,” said the archbishop of Indianapolis. In a pastoral letter addressed to the clergy, religious and lay Catholics of central and southern Indiana issued Feb. 14, Ash Wednesday, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson said he explores a number of issues widely debated in society from the perspective of Christian anthropology, which he described as “the way Christians view human dignity and the end or purpose of human society.” Catholics’ response to issues such as immigration, abortion, racism, religious liberty and drug abuse, Archbishop Thompson said, should be “deeply rooted in the church’s understanding of the origin, nature and destiny of the human person as revealed in Jesus Christ. Where we come from, who we are and where we are headed as individuals and as diverse communities of people,” he noted, “determines our rights and responsibilities in human society.”

WORLD
South African bishops: Zuma’s resignation was long overdue
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) – Jacob Zuma’s resignation as president of South Africa is long overdue, the country’s bishops said, noting that his scandal-plagued presidency fostered corruption and dereliction of duty at all levels of government. “The fact that Mr. Zuma has been allowed to hold on to the highest position in the land despite long-standing and overwhelming evidence of his unfitness for office has done immense harm to our country’s international reputation, to its economy and, especially, to its poorest and most vulnerable citizens,” said the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Zuma, 75, resigned Feb. 14 after nine years in office. In a televised address to the nation, he said he disagreed with the way the ruling African National Congress had pushed him toward an early exit, but would accept its orders. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was confirmed as president until 2019 general elections. While for some Zuma’s resignation “may be a painful event, we call on all to accept his decision as part of our democratic process,” the bishops’ conference said in a statement issued by its president, Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town.

VATICAN
Vatican denies report Pope Benedict has degenerative disease
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Vatican denied that retired Pope Benedict XVI has a degenerative neurological disease or paralyzing condition after his brother, 94-year-old Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, told a magazine that Pope Benedict had a debilitating disease. In an interview published Feb. 13 in the German weekly entertainment magazine, Neue Post, Msgr. Ratzinger said Pope Benedict suffered from a nerve disease that was slowly paralyzing him. “The greatest concern is that the paralysis could eventually reach his heart and then everything could end quickly,” Msgr. Ratzinger was quoted as saying. “I pray every day to ask God for the grace of a good death,

Oath of fidelity marks next step to ordination

NEW ORLEANS – Deacon Aaron Williams and Deacon Nick Adam sign their Professions of Faith and Oaths of Fidelity as required by Canon Law in the chapel at Notre Dame Seminary on Sunday, Feb. 4 along with other members of their seminary class. Seminary Rector Father James Wehner witnessed the oaths. This is one of the last steps men take before priestly ordination. See below for details on their ordinations. (Photos courtesy of Notre Dame Seminary)