OWENSBORO, Ky. (CNS) – Celebrating Mass in a 20-by-25-foot metal outbuilding on Dec. 24, 2021, for the displaced community of Resurrection Parish in Dawson Springs, the image that came to mind for Owensboro Bishop William F. Medley was “there was no room at the inn.” But parishioners did find room in a structure shared by a couple in the parish for Christmas Eve and Masses in the new year as well. “I felt the gratitude that the congregation could be together again – but that they were still stunned,” Bishop Medley told The Western Kentucky Catholic, diocesan newspaper of Owensboro, of the Christmas Eve Mass. The bishop had driven the 90 minutes to Dawson Springs from Owensboro that day, wanting to open the Christmas season with the Resurrection community. Resurrection Church was among the buildings lost to the historic tornadoes that hit western Kentucky during the night of Dec. 10, 2021. The strong winds had torn out windows and ripped off parts of the roof, exposing the interior of the little church to the elements. In the following days, parishioners Donnie and Rhonda Mills offered the use of their outbuilding, which is used primarily as an exercise room, as a substitute church for the time being. The parish gathered for Mass for the first time since the tornadoes on Sunday, Dec. 19. Their second gathering was that Christmas Eve. “Their doors have always been open to everybody,” said Deacon Mike Marsili.
WASHINGTON (CNS) – The 49th annual national March for Life – with a rally on the National Mall and march to the Supreme Court Jan. 21 – will go on as scheduled this year amid a surge in the omicron variant in the nation’s capital. Outdoor events are not affected by the District of Columbia’s vaccine mandate for indoor gatherings, but participants should expect to wear face masks. Indoor events associated with the annual march will have to comply with city COVID-19 restrictions. The national Pro-Life Summit, sponsored by Students for Life, is also scheduled to take place Jan. 22 at Washington’s Omni Shoreham Hotel. The March for Life has canceled its three-day Pro-Life Expo and is combining two planned Capitol Hill 101 panel discussions Jan. 20 into a single event. The organization is still holding its annual Rose Dinner Gala. Participants who are 12 and older attending the panel discussion or dinner will have to provide proof of receiving one COVID-19 vaccination by Jan. 15, or, if they are seeking a medical or religious exemption, they must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of the event. The Pro-Life summit is also requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination following the city’s regulations.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – At his celebration of Mass for the Sunday of the Word of God Jan. 23, Pope Francis will formally install new catechists and lectors. The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, which coordinates the annual celebration, said the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica will include “the conferral of the ministries of lector and catechist.” Pope Francis’ formally instituted the ministry of catechist in May 2021. He often has spoken of the importance of selecting, training and supporting catechists, who are called to lead people to a deeper relationship with Jesus, prepare them to receive the sacraments and educate them in the teachings of the church. The Sunday of the Word of God, instituted by Pope Francis in 2019, is meant to encourage among all Catholics interest in knowing the sacred Scriptures and their central role in the life of the church and the Christian faith. The theme for the 2022 celebration is “Blessed are those who hear the word of God,” a verse which comes from the Gospel of St. Luke.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Living out and proclaiming the Gospel are inseparable aspects at the heart of an authentically Christian life and witness, Pope Francis said in his message for World Mission Sunday. “Every Christian is called to be a missionary and witness to Christ. And the church, the community of Christ’s disciples, has no other mission than that of bringing the Gospel to the entire world by bearing witness to Christ,” the pope wrote in his message for the celebration, which will be held Oct. 23. The theme chosen for the 2022 celebration is taken from the Acts of the Apostles: “You will be my witnesses.” The Vatican released the pope’s message Jan. 6. In his message, the pope reflected on three key “foundations of the life and mission of every disciple,” beginning with the call to bear witness to Christ. While all who are baptized are called to evangelize, the pope said the mission is carried out in communion with the church and not on “one’s own initiative.”
YANGON, Myanmar (CNS) – For Christians in Chin and Kayah states, there were no Christmas and New Year celebrations due to fighting. They have borne the brunt of a decades-old civil war and faced oppression and persecution at the hands of the military, reported ucanews.com. On Dec. 29, Catholics in Kayah’s Hpruso Township held a funeral for 35 civilians – all Catholic – killed by troops and their bodies set on fire Christmas Eve in Mo So village. Ucanews.com reported local sources said the funeral was led by catechists, because the military would not allow a local priest to officiate. The killings shocked the world and drew swift condemnation from Cardinal Charles Bo, who called it a “heartbreaking and horrific atrocity. The fact that the bodies of those killed, burned and mutilated were found on Christmas Day makes this appalling tragedy even more poignant and sickening. As much of the world celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the people of Mo So village suffered the terrible shock and grief of an outrageous act of inhumanity,” he said. Cardinal Bo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar, urged the military “to stop bombing and shelling innocent people, to stop destroying homes and churches, schools and clinics” and to begin “a dialogue.”
DUBLIN (CNS) – After a year at the head of the Archdiocese of Dublin, Archbishop Dermot Farrell said, “Radical change is coming in the church,” which will see a renewal of energy and new forms of ministry. “With a powerful commitment from clergy and lay faithful, across the full range of the life and ministry of parish communities, we are going to experience a renewal of energy and the adoption of new forms of outreach and ministry,” the 67-year-old archbishop told Catholic News Service. He also said he believes change is already happening in the church’s structures all over the Western world. “Pope Francis is offering us a way of being church, the synodal pathway, of walking together more closely and being a church that is hope-filled, despite many challenges.” The leader of the largest Irish diocese, with more than 1 million Catholics and 207 parishes, invited the faithful to “walk this journey together with me – and walk it with hope: a hope that frees us to undertake radical change, a hope that inspires us to be ambitious and a hope encourages us to be brave.” In November, the archdiocese published its “Building Hope Task Force Report,” a strategic plan for pastoral renewal amid major challenges such as a collapse in revenue and priest numbers.
NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) – As Ethiopia celebrated Christmas Jan. 7, Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel of Addis Ababa called for humility, patience and gentleness, while urging the people to remember those suffering from war. Ethiopia is celebrating the birth of Christ under the shadow of a deadly war in the northern state of Tigray. In less than 14 months, the conflict has killed thousands, displaced millions and ignited an international outcry over human rights abuses. Agencies say a huge humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the region, as food, medicine and basic needs fail to reach the people. “As we celebrate the birthday of Jesus, let us remember those who are suffering in war, those who have suffered a moral breakdown, those who have been displaced from their homes and injured, those who have lost their parents and families, by sharing in their pain and grief,” Cardinal Souraphiel said in a message. The cardinal said people needed to get away from pride, hatred and anger for the sake of peace.