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Lahore, Pakistan, Sep 1, 2014 / 04:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An inter-religious women’s group in Pakistan has appealed to the United Nations to offer support and protection for those suffering in Iraq and Gaza.

Organized under the patronage of the Council for Interfaith Dialogue in the Archdiocese of Lahore, Pakistan, an inter-faith group of more than 50 women - including lay and religious - gathered Aug. 26 for a special prayer service, offered for the deceased Christians and Muslims in Iraq and Gaza.

Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap, national coordinator of the Council for Interfaith Dialogue, led the prayer service. He was joined by Advocate Shabnam Nagi, chair of the women’s wing of the council.

The interfaith women’s group appealed to United Nations, as well as to heads of the countries involved and of other states and rival groups, asking them “to take immediate steps to stop killings of innocent Christians in Iraq and Muslims in Gaza including children, women, youth and elderly people.”

The women expressed horror at the violence the has ravaged Gaza and Iraq, voicing prayerful solidarity with the suffering victims of persecution, particularly the vulnerable minority religious groups choked under the escalated attacks in recent weeks.

In addition, the gruopoffered prayers for an end to violence and killing. Members told CNA that their earnest prayer is that the “earth may not become redder with the blood of innocent human-beings.”

During the prayer service, participants lit candles in the memory of the deceased in Iraq and Gaza.

“The Council for Interfaith Dialogue in Archdiocese of Lahore is working untiringly to promote inter-faith harmony between the communities through workshops, conventions and collaborating in inter-religious events,” local catechist Asif Nazir told CNA.

“Peace and development cannot be achieved by hatred but by a common collaborative action, which is need at this hour, especially in our country.”

Recently, the interfaith dialogue council hosted an inter-religious banquet with the Islamic community during Ramadan to promote dialogue, friendship and harmony in the Archdiocese of Lahore.
 

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Denver, Colo., Sep 1, 2014 / 12:24 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Some 500 Catholic leaders and their pastors from across the United States met recently at the first-ever Amazing Parish conference in Denver to brainstorm and swap ideas about improving parish life.

The newly-founded Amazing Parish movement seeks to provide resources to pastors and parish leaders so they can create a thriving parish life. The conference, held Aug. 27-28 at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, featured Catholic speakers and workshops on topics such as parish leadership teams, formation programs and evangelization.

For a movement that is just starting out, interest in the conference was widespread and the overall response very positive.

“Would it be wrong to say it’s been amazing?” quipped Matt Manion, president of the Catholic Leadership Institute and a speaker at the conference.

“But it’s really been an excellent experience of Church, of prayer, and of people who are open to new ideas and new ways of serving God through the parish,” he told CNA.

Many of the speakers, like Manion, are Catholics serving in leadership roles for big companies who are adapting tricks of the trade of company leadership to practical ideas for parish leadership.

“The church is larger than maybe any company that these kind of guys work with, so we have to be strategic,” said Amazing Parish staff member Chris Stefanick. “We have to have the best practices and good team building skills and so I think what we’re given is really unique here and it’s been received really well.”

Stefanick is also a social media evangelist at reallifecatholic.com and helped host the conference, which filled to its 500-person capacity before it was even officially advertised.

“Both that and how it’s been received, it just confirms that it’s meeting a very huge need in the Church,” he said.

Attendees of the conference represented a wide range of parish experiences, from rural, spread out areas to parishes containing thousands of registered families and several other Catholic churches within a square mile.

Father Cory Sticha made the trip from St. Mary’s in Malta, Montana with his parish director of religious education and a member of his parish council.  He pastors an area three times the size of Rhode Island but only has around 200 registered families in his parish.

The best part about the Amazing Parish movement, he said, is the resources.

Everyone at the conference received a binder with guiding questions and planning sheets for each of the seven foundational parts needed to create an amazing parish. There are several formation talks and free resources on the website as well, and attendees of the conference also received a free DVD set of formation talks that would normally be priced around $100.

“For us in a smaller parish, having a lot of resources that are low-cost – free or relatively cheap – is a big deal,” Fr. Sticha told CNA.

“A bigger parish that has 7,000 families, they don’t think about that, that’s not a big deal to them.  It is for us.”

For St. Clements in Chicago, the challenges at the parish level look a little different. With about 4,000 registered parishioners, the Lincoln-park area church also sees a lot of young adults that hop around to the multiple parishes in the area.

“People are bouncing around all over, not just in our parish, so in a sense we don’t really know anybody,” said Pastor Fr. Ken Simpson.

On the other hand, the parish is very open to new ideas.

“We’re a place that’s pretty open to change. It’s not like, ‘Why are you doing this?’” he said, “It’s, ‘When are you going to do it?’ which is a real advantage.”

During the conference, parish representatives were encouraged to focus on those things that made their parishes unique and how they could work with those characteristics.

Tim Weiske, a parishioner at St. Clements, said he thought a good goal to focus on for their parish was forming their large young adult population.  

“I see our job as preparing these young adults for the next parish they’re going to be a part of,” he said.

Fr. Simpson also said that the conference brought to light the regional differences in parish life and presented a chance to collaborate.

“There’s a whole different set of resources and experiences west of the Mississippi,” he observed. “It’s very interesting to me how the East and West are developing in different ways, and it’s cool that we’re here together to (experience) this.”

For Stefanick, the biggest hope he had for the parishes in attendance was that they come away with a clarity of vision and practice for their parish.

“The way we do parish ministry gets so convoluted, so bogged down under tasks, that we don’t even know what we’re about anymore,” he said. “And it becomes so complex for us that it just burns people and ministries out. So we need to put a greater simplicity around what we do, so that we can focus and do the few things that we’re able to do with our finite nature, well.”

Because of the huge response, Stefanick said the conference is likely to be split up into 2-4 regional conferences in the near future. Parishes interested in checking out the movement can visit the website at amazingparish.org.
 

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Seeing the Face of Christ in the Poor

Each Sunday, we hear St. Vincent’s name mentioned along with St. Louis and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne during the Eucharistic prayers. St. Louis we know was the King of France. We know St. Rose was a teacher and brought education to all children, especially the Native American Indians. We have heard of St. Vincent and we know he is associated with the poor and that the St. Vincent de Paul Society provides resources to those in need. St. Vincent was involved in the formation of priests and set up missionaries to go out among ordinary people and tell them about Jesus. About 150 years after his death, his missionaries came to the St. Louis area. They asked his intercession on their great mission of reaching out to the people in the wilderness of St. Louis, asking him to be our patron. 

In 1581, St. Vincent de Paul was born to poor farmers. He was the third son and learned how to tend the animals. His father thought this would be good for him, but Vincent was smart and everyone noticed. The neighbors convinced his father to send him to school and let one of his other brothers tend the animals. Therefore, Vincent went away to school. He got along very well and taught others. His teaching ability would become an asset to him and allow him many opportunities to bring others to Christ. Although, he lived almost 500 years ago, St. Vincent had a very interesting life. While making a journey by boat to a new city where he was assigned, St. Vincent was captured by pirates and sold into slavery. After years as a slave, his master decided to help him escape and chose to go with him. St. Vincent’s Christian example would lead his master to repent and return to the Catholic Church. 

The St. Vincent de Paul Chapel at the Cardinal Rigali Center

Everywhere St. Vincent lived and worked the example of his life would bring others to Christ. He was a tutor in a very rich household. He affected the parents of the children he tutored. In the 1500’s, dueling was the answer to any offense. Honor was everything. One day, the father of his students was in church praying before going off to duel. St. Vincent convinced the father that taking another’s life in a duel was cruel and God did not approve. The father amended his ways and followed the example of St. Vincent. The father and mother became St. Vincent’s greatest supporters and after the mother’s death, the father would go on to become a priest. 

This was the effect St. Vincent had on people. People would change their behaviors and amend their ways to live according to the church doctrines and follow the ways of Christ. St. Vincent had no desire to be rich or famous. Although he had influential friends, he was happy to stay working with the poor in every community. In a time when people lived extravagant lives with no regard to how the poor people lived, he would remind them of the vast differences in lifestyles. He found priests to be missionaries and formed Lady’s Charities. While volunteering for these charities, wealthier women would work alongside not so wealthy women to feed and shelter the poor. They founded hospitals and orphanages. Where there was a need, St. Vincent found ways to go to these people and meet them where they were. One day he decided to visit the prisoners who served their sentence rowing the large ships. The inhumane way in which these prisoners were treated saddened and shocked him. He appealed to the ship owners and gained permission to take care of these men. It was difficult work, but St. Vincent managed again to con-vert souls and bring more people to the Church. He said to his followers, “Love makes us see God and nothing else but God in each of those whom we love.” St. Vincent gave his life for others and taught everyone by his exam-ple. 

Each month our Pope has special intentions. He has general and missionary intentions. In September 2012, he asked God to send: “Help for the poorest Churches that Christian communities may have a growing willingness to send missionaries, priests, and lay people along with concrete resources to the poorest Churches.” On September 27, we celebrate St. Vincent de Paul’s feast day. This is an appropriate time to ask God to help the poorest. St. Vincent would approve, he once said, “By mutual support the strong will sustain the weak, and God’s work will be accomplished.” St. Vincent wants everyone to be an example of Christ in the world. To love all people as God loved us. --- Alethea Paradis, M.T.S.

 

St. Vincent de Paul's Legacy

Jesus said, “this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 15:12) As Christians we are called by these words of Christ to love and care for one another. The greatest way to outwardly express our love for one another is through charity- by donating our time, talent, and treasures to those in need.

There are many ways to get involved in the Catholic ministries in the Archdiocese of St. Louis that help the poor,
abused, neglected, elderly, disabled and lonely in our community, and one way is through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. 

“Serving Christ’s needy is the first purpose of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.”

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul provides services in crisis intervention, housing, criminal justice ministry, transportation, and health.

Photo courtesy of svdpstlouis.org

Most parishes have a Society of St. Vincent de Paul conference, which are “chapters” of the Society. To find volunteer opportunities with your parish SVDP conference, you can call your parish office or look at the list of SVDP conferences.

To volunteer or donate to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul call 314.881.6000 or donate online.

 

Read more about the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.


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Martyrs of September
9/2/2014 12:00:00 AM
The September Martyrs are a group of 191 faithful Christians who were martyred at the hands of the French Revolution on September 2 and 3, 1792. After refusing to take an oath in support of the civil consititution of the clergy, an act condemned by the Vatican which placed Catholic priests under the authority and control of the state, these priests and religious brothers and sisters were imprisoned in a Carmelite convent and then massacred in the space of two days by bloodthirsty revolutionary mobs.They were beatified on October 17, 1926 by Pope Pius XI. Among the martyrs were Louis and Francis de la Rochefoucauld, the bishops of Saintes and Beauvais respectively, Apollinaris of Posat, John Francis Burte, Charles de la Calmette, Augustine Ambrose Chevreux, Andre Grasset de Saint Sauveur, John Mary de Lau, Severin Girault, Julian Massey, and Louis Barreau de la Touche.
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First Reading - 1 Cor 2:10B-16
9/2/2014 12:00:00 AM
10B For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God; that we may know the things that are given us from God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the learned words of human wisdom; but in the doctrine of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined. 15 But the spiritual man judgeth all things; and he himself is judged of no man.16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that we may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 
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