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Alotau, Papua New Guinea, Dec 21, 2014 / 01:30 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic bishop of Alotau, Papua New Guinea, has launched an appeal during a severe food shortage following a cyclone engulfing the Catholic diocese.

The Papua New Guinean islands located in the deep South Pacific region north of Australia are a hub for constant typhoons while also sitting on the seismic belt of the infamous “Ring of Fire” plates that cause series of volcanic eruptions and tsunamis that sweep the shores.

A severe tropical cyclone known as ‘Ita’ slammed the remote Melanesian island coast in early April, wreaking havoc and destroying some 1000 houses and many crops in the poorest region of the diocese.  

“At this time thousands of these people are suffering from a severe food shortage,” said Bishop Rolando C Santos C.M., of Alotau, the capital of the country’s Milne Bay Province.

“I am writing to make an emergency appeal for the people the Sudest, particularly, those of St. Alphonsus parish, Nimoa,” Bishop Santos wrote in a Dec. 18 message.

“We are also appealing to the local people, and asking them to bring their donations to the church during these days of the Christmas novena,” he said.

“Fr. Tony Young, MSC, parish priest of Nimoa, has been working hard asking for donations and distributing food,” Bishop Santos further added. “He just ran out of food supplies after distributing relief to about 800 families during the last two weeks.”

The prelate recalled some help provide by Caritas of Papua New Guinea in May, but he emphasized, “It is especially at this time that the people of Nimoa are experiencing a serious need.”  
Explaining his concerns for the citizens, the bishop said that he sought the intervention of the local provincial government of Milne Bay, and “they are now collecting supplies and intend to ship these to Nimoa sometime next week.”

The affected region is dependent primarily on local produce due to poor connectivity of roads and the mountainous region. The Catholic Church and missionaries have played an extensive role in setting up educational schools, promoting vocational skill and capacity development institutes in educating the tribal indigenous population.

The underdeveloped remoteness of the region and poor communication systems keep information of the population partly eclipsed from the outside world.  

Catholic in Papua New Guinea constitute 27 percent of the total population, which is mainly Christian.


London, England, Dec 21, 2014 / 01:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- This Advent, young Catholics in the UK are using video media to challenge their peers to “engage in the life and rhythm of the Church” and seek a deeper relationship with Christ.

Made for Glory, a by-the-youth, for-the-youth faith initiative in the UK, has been releasing a video for every day of Advent. Each video features a reflection from one of several young people based upon that day’s Gospel reading. So far, they've produced 25 videos for their virtual Advent calendar. 

“We’re all thirsting for more of the truth!” said John Withers, team member of Made for Glory, the group spearheading the project. “Advent is packed full of themes that speak right to the hearts of young people: longing, expectance, repentance, joy,” he told CNA in a Dec. 19 e-mail interview.  

“What we’re doing with Made for Glory is nothing revolutionary,” Made for Glory team member Patrick Morton told CNA. “We’re simply trying to help people move from that initial encounter with Christ, into a deeper personal relationship with him.”

The aim of this year’s Advent reflections, Morton explained, is to help “young people engage more with the life and rhythm of the Church by taking Christ's message in the daily Gospels and bringing it into our everyday life, helping us to live the Gospel more actively in the build up to Christmas.”

“At the heart of Advent is the anticipation of Christmas itself… a call to take our faith seriously,” Morton said. “It’s a call to struggle, and work hard, and strive towards holiness; towards Christ. That’s why, in each video, we worked in this practical, apostolic element.”

Withers added that repentance seems to be an Advent theme that resonates strongly with many young people. 

“The message of John the Baptist, which we hear again and again, is repent and believe,” he said. “I have always enjoyed reading about the struggles of the saints because it fills me with such hope; God can transform our lives.”

Many young people in the UK cite Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 visit to the country as a significant moment in their faith, Withers said. The visit “fanned a flame from the spark of faith we had been given.”

Withers himself was present when the now Emeritus Pope addressed 3,000 young Catholics outside Westminster Cathedral in London. A young Catholic from a fairly small parish, Withers remembers being "blown away by the sudden reality of the universality of the Catholic Church.” 

Pope Francis, too, is fanning the flame of faith that Benedict started, Morton said. 

“If Pope Benedict built bridges for Catholics in Britain, then we can firmly say that Pope Francis has single handedly managed to make being Catholic cool.” 

“He’s an out-and-out evangelist, who builds bridges for Christ on foundations of friendship and trust,” he said. “He’s encouraging young Catholics to step up and be counted, to not be afraid, because when we say yes to Christ the joy of the Christian life overwhelms any doubts or fears.” 

Morton added that many young people are done with what the world offers them and are seeking real answers to their deepest questions.

“I think that as society becomes more secular, more relativised, more seemingly absent of definitive truth, then the more passionately young people will seek the truth,” Morton continued. “Young people aren’t satisfied with the soft answer, they want the real thing, they want the truth, however challenging it may be.”

In addition to being contributors to this project, Morton and Withers are also part of the team at the Vocations Centre for the Archdiocese of Southwark in London. The entire Advent video calendar can be viewed on the Made for Glory Youtube channel:


St. Peter Canisius
12/20/2014 11:00:00 PM
An important figure in the Catholic counter-reformation that responded to the 16th century spread of Protestantism, the priest and Doctor of the Church Saint Peter Canisius is remembered liturgically on Dec. 21. His efforts as a preacher, author, and religious educator strengthened the Catholic faith in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and parts of Central Europe during a period of doctrinal confusion. Writing about St. Peter Canisius in 1897, Pope Leo XIII noted similarities between the late 19th century and the saint's own lifetime, “a period when the spirit of revolution and looseness of doctrine resulted in a great loss of faith and decline in morals.� More recently, in a 2011 general audience, Pope Benedict XVI taught that the Jesuit saint found success in ministry by living as “a personal witness of Jesus and an instrument at his disposal, bound to him closely by faith in his Gospel and in his Church.� Peter Kanis – his name later Latinized to “Canisius� – was born in the Netherlands during May 1521. His father Jacob was a wealthy public official, but his mother Aegidia died soon after his birth. Peter began his university studies in Cologne around age 15, and obtained his master's degree before he turned 20. His friends during this period included several men who held to the Catholic faith in opposition to the Protestant doctrines then gaining ground in Germany. Despite his father's preference that he should marry, Peter made a decision in 1540 to remain celibate. Three years later he entered the Society of Jesus under the influence of Blessed Peter Faber, one of the first companions of Saint Ignatius Loyola. He founded the first Jesuit house in Germany, became a priest in 1546, and was involved in a successful effort to force the resignation of Cologne's Archbishop Hermann of Wied after the archbishop's shift from the Catholic faith to Protestant teachings. Only one year after his ordination, Peter accompanied the Bishop of Augsburg to the Council of Trent as a theological adviser. He spent a portion of his time in Italy working directly with Saint Ignatius Loyola, before leaving for Bavaria where he would serve as a university professor as well as a catechist and preacher. This combination of academic and pastoral work continued at Vienna from 1552, allowing him to visit and assist many Austrian parishes which found themselves without a priest. During the mid-1550s Peter's evangelistic journeys took him to Prague, where he eventually founded a Jesuit school along with another in Bavaria, and later a third in Munich. The year 1555, in particular, was a landmark for Canisius: St. Ignatius promoted him to a leadership position within the order, which he held until 1569, and he published the first and longest version of his Catholic catechism. This work, and its two shorter adaptations, went through hundreds of printings and remained in use for centuries Involved in discussions with Protestants during 1557, Peter made a strong case for the Church by showing how the adherents of Protestantism could not agree with one another in matters of doctrine. Meanwhile, he maintained his commitment to religious instruction on the popular level – teaching children, giving retreats, and preaching carefully-crafted, doctrinally-rich sermons to large crowds. Canisius' service to the Council of Trent continued during the early 1560s, though mostly from a distance. He kept up a demanding schedule of preaching and establishing universities, while also working to ensure that the council's decrees were received and followed in Germany after it concluded. His tireless efforts over the next two decades contributed to a major revival of German Catholicism. In the 1580s, he shifted his focus to the Swiss region of Freibourg, spearheading a similar revival there. A mystical experience in 1584 convinced Canisius that he should cease his travels and remain in Switzerland for the rest of his life. He spent his last years building up the Church in Fribourg through his preaching, teaching, and writing. Peter suffered a near-fatal stroke in 1591, but recovered and continued as an author for six years. The Dutch Jesuit saw writing as an essential form of apostolic work, a view supported by the continued use of his catechism long after his death on Dec. 21, 1597. St. Peter Canisius was simultaneously canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1925. In a famous saying, the Jesuit priest revealed the secret behind the accomplishments of his energetic and fruitful life: “If you have too much to do, with God's help you will find time to do it all.�

1 And it came to pass when the king sat in his house, and the Lord had given him rest on every side from all his enemies, 2 He said to Nathan the prophet: Dost thou see that I dwell in a house of cedar, and the ark of God is lodged within skins? 3 And Nathan said to the king: Go, do all that is in thy heart: because the Lord is with thee. 4 But it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying: 5 Go, and say to my servant David: Thus saith the Lord: Shalt thou build me a house to dwell in? 8 And now thus shalt thou speak to my servant David: Thus saith the Lord of hosts: a I took thee out of the pastures from following the sheep to be ruler over my people Israel: 9 And I have been with thee wheresoever thou hast walked, and have slain all thy enemies from before thy face: and I have made thee a great man, like unto the name of the great ones that are on the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and I will plant them, and they shall dwell therein, and shall be disturbed no more: neither shall the children of iniquity afflict them any more as they did before,11 From the day that I appointed judges over my people Israel: and I will give thee rest from all thy enemies. And the Lord foretelleth to thee, that the Lord will make thee a house. 12 And when thy days shall be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son: and if he commit any iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men.16 And thy house shall be faithful, and thy kingdom for ever before thy face, and thy throne shall be firm for ever.

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