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Mercy Mass Aug. 21 in Salina, Aug. 28 in Colby

By The Register

Salina — A priest designated a “Missionary of Mercy” by Pope Francis will give the homily at the Year of Mercy Mass at 4 p.m. Aug. 21 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Father Chuck Tobin from Missouri will give the homily at the Mass. Prior to the Mass, confessions will be offered at 3 p.m. and a rosary will begin at 3:30 p.m.

“By being designated, he’s been identified as a resource preacher and teacher about the Year of Mercy,” said Father Steve Heina, director of the Office of New Evangelization. “The whole Year of Mercy and everything about these celebrations is all about hope — to communicate and to celebrate the great hope that comes to us in Jesus crucified and risen from the dead.”

Father Tobin, a retired priest from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., is one of more than 1,140 religious deacons and priests that were appointed as a Missionary of Mercy.


Mercy_Mass from Salina Diocese on Vimeo.


“I have a sense of being a witness,” Father Tobin said in an interview after his appointment. “And you know, the priests I was there with, the ‘old battered priests,’ are really good confessors, because they have lived it. Actually, all of us are called to that kind of life: to be caring, compassionate and understanding. This commission, this mandate, is really a call to all our priests to be shepherds in the confessional.”

In addition to preaching at the special Year of Mercy Mass, Father Tobin will preside at the 12:30 p.m. Spanish Mass on Aug. 21 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.


Seminarians immersed in Spanish

The Register

Pittsburg — While a Spanish language immersion program might conjure pictures of Mexico or South America, the reality of the Spanish language immersion experience seminarian Andy Hammeke and Deacon Leo Blasi are on is a different story.

The seminarians spent the summer in Pittsburg, a town of about 20,000 in southeast Kansas at Pittsburg State University, immersing themselves in the Spanish language. 

From when they wake in the morning until 7 p.m. they were only allowed to communicate en Español. The strict “no English” rule is essential; they are completing two semesters of Spanish in eight weeks.

“It’s like drinking from a fire hose,” Deacon Blasi said of the experience.

The men have about five hours of class per day, then spend the afternoon and evening hours studying and preparing for the next day.

“It seems like you’re moving through things quickly and by the time you start figuring it out, you have moved onto something else,” Hammeke said. “One good thing about the program is it provides us plenty of time in the afternoon and evening to study. The fast pace forces you to keep up with studying.”

Bishop Edward Weisenburger said the diocese began sending seminarians to the program about three years ago. The program, which was developed by the Diocese of Wichita about a half a dozen years ago, also provides ongoing spiritual formation for the men.

In all, the immersion program includes eight seminarians —­ the two from the Salina Diocese, three from the Wichita Diocese, two from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau Missouri and one from the Diocese of Springfield, Ill.


College students encourage co­­ntinuing faith

The Register

Attending college for the first time often involves moving away from home and experiencing many new freedoms.

While broadening a student’s world view is valuable, three college upperclassmen encourage college freshman to commit to living their Catholic faith, even while away at college.

Courtney Farmer Hunter Kee Tracie Thibault


Courtney Farmer is a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in theology at Benedictine College in Atchison. She is from Russell and spent the summer working at Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas in Salina.

Hunter Kee is a senior majoring in nursing at Washburn University in Topeka. He is from Beloit and spent the summer working as a CNA in the Mitcell County Hospital in Beloit.

Tracie Thibault is a junior majoring in biology at K-State in Manhattan. She is from Salina, and spent the summer leading Prayer and Action in Hays and Junction City.

Father Fred Gatschet is the campus minister of the Comeau Catholic Campus Center at Fort Hays State University in Hays, a post he has held for 16 years.

“Parents are just scared to death. They are afraid their kids will go off to college and go off the road to debauchery,” Father Gatschet said. “They want to know how to keep their kids Catholic and alive.”


Two from Salina Diocese become FOCUS missionaries

The Register

Salina — Two recent college graduates from the Salina Diocese will become FOCUS missionaries on college campus, aiding students in their spiritual journey.

Sarah Stratman of Bennington and Becca Kohl of Hays will begin their first year with Fellowship of Catholic University Students as missionaries.

FOCUS was established in 1998 as a pilot program at Benedictine College in Atchison with two staff members and 24 students. FOCUS is now on more than 125 campuses with more than 550 missionaries nationwide.

Stratman, who graduated in May from K-State with a degree in nutrition and health, will be a missionary at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The assignment at KU is full circle. A friend of hers mentioned FOCUS had a presence at KU and was impressed with the joy of the missionaries.

“She asked me if I’d ever thought about being a FOCUS missionary; that planted the seed,” Stratman said.

During her junior year of college, she attended SEEK, the FOCUS national convention. The idea was further nourished while serving as a staff member of Prayer and Action in 2015.

“(Prayer and action) really changed my life and made me see that we are all made to be saints and made for greatness,” Stratman said. “It inspired me not to live mediocrity anymore.”

During her senior year, she explored several post-graduate options but none seemed like the right fit.

“Then I went to the FOCUS interview weekend. I had never felt so much peace about anything before,” Stratman said. “I knew if they called I would without a doubt say yes.”

Kohl, who graduated in May from Fort Hays State University with a degree tourism and hospitality management, will serve as a missionary at Mt. St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md. 

During her freshman year of college, Kohl said she was involved in leadership with a protestant group on the FHSU campus.

“They asked me about the Catholic faith and I realized I better find out the answers,” she said. 

She became involved in the Comeau Catholic Campus Center at FHSU, which led her to attend the SEEK conference.

“My freshman year, I had a protestant mentor who walked with me in my faith,” Kohl said. “I thought ‘There should be a Catholic version of this!’ FOCUS is that, but so much more.”


Couple shares journey through sterilization and back to NFP

The Register

Editor’s Note: Due to the intensely private nature of sterilization, we have changed the couple’s names to respect their privacy because they live, work and have family in the Salina Diocese.

Three years and two children into their marriage, Sarah and Thomas felt the easiest way to avoid another pregnancy was for Thomas to undergo a vasectomy. 

“We were pregnant five months into our marriage,” Thomas said. 

Their second child was born four moths after their two-year wedding anniversary.

To say life happened all at once would be an understatement. A young couple, they married when Sarah was 19. Thomas was 24. She was working to finish college and he was working to provide for the young family.

“Our hands were really really full really really fast,” Sarah said.

While Sarah was raised Catholic and Thomas converted upon their marriage, the couple was only vaguely familiar with Natural Family Planning (NFP). According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, NFP is defined as “The general title for the scientific, natural and moral methods of family planning that can help married couples either achieve or postpone pregnancies. NFP methods are based on the observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy.

“Since the methods of NFP respect the love-giving (unitive) and life-giving (procreative) nature of the conjugal act, they support God's design for married love.”

 “We used NFP for a short time but after (our oldest) was born, but life was so overwhelming,” Sarah said. 

She was also a full-time college student, in addition to being a wife and new mother.


Iluminando préstamos de día de pago

Nuestro Santo Padre designó 2016 como Año Jubilar de la Merced. Desde los tiempos bíblicos, una de las características de un Año Jubilar ha sido la cancelación de las deudas que estaban más allá de la capacidad de los pobres para pagar. Liberación de la psicológica y material “prisión” de la deuda es la metáfora perfecta de la misericordia de Dios.

En consonancia con el espíritu de la misericordia, me gustaría invitar a todos los ciudadanos de Kansas a tomar las palabras del Papa Francisco 'a pecho para que, juntos, confrontemos y tocemos a una forma particular de pobreza injusta que afecta a decenas de miles de nuestros hermanos y hermanas: préstamo de día de pago endeudamiento. Para hacer frente a esta situación, en palabras del Papa Francisco, significa que debemos comenzar con datos concretos acerca de la industria. Tocar esta pobreza, construyendo sobre la quota del Santo Padre, significa resistir la tentación de voltiar los ojos lejos del sufrimiento de nuestros vecinos; encogiéndose de apagado como el resultado de la irresponsabilidad financiera o la ignorancia que no tiene nada que ver conmigo.

Comenzando con hechos concretos, debemos tomar nota que abusar de los pobres al prestar dinero a las personas en crisis en asombrosamente altas tasas de interés es una práctica que fue condenado o restringido por todas las civilizaciones. Este comportamiento abusivo fue reconocido como destructivo y corrosivo para las comunidades y la sociedad. Sin embargo, con la moderna industria de préstamo de día de pago, lo que estaba correctamente etiquetada reprobable y depredador ahora se presenta como amigable, seguro y legítimo; De hecho, se presenta como un servicio financiero altruista. El hecho es que nada podría estar más lejos de la verdad. Entonces, ¿qué es la verdad?


Illuminating payday lending

“In Imitation of Our Master, we Christians are asked to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it.”  (Pope Francis)

Our Holy Father designated 2016 as a Jubilee Year of Mercy. Since biblical times, one of the hallmarks of a Jubilee Year has been the cancellation of debts that were beyond the ability of the poor to pay. Liberation from the psychological and material “prison” of indebtedness is the perfect metaphor for God’s mercy.

In keeping with this spirit of mercy, I would like to invite all Kansans to take Pope Francis’ words to heart so we may, together, confront and touch a particular form of unjust poverty afflicting tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters:  payday loan indebtedness. To confront this situation, in the words of Pope Francis, means we must begin with hard facts about the industry. Touching this poverty, building on the Holy Father’s quote, means resisting the temptation to turn our eyes away from the suffering of our neighbors; shrugging it off as the result of financial irresponsibility or ignorance that has nothing to do with me.  

Beginning with hard facts, we must note that abusing the poor by lending money to those in crisis at astonishingly high interest rates is a practice that was condemned or restricted by every civilization. This abusive behavior was rightly recognized as destructive and corrosive for communities and society. However, with the modern payday loan industry, what was correctly labeled reprehensible and predatory is now presented as friendly, safe and legitimate; indeed, it is presented as an altruistic financial service. The fact is nothing could be further from the truth. So what is the truth?


Women’s conference, ‘Growing in Faith,’ is Aug. 20

By The Register

Colby — The biennial convention of the Salina Diocesan Council of Catholic Women will be Saturday, Aug. 20 at Sacred Heart Church in Colby. 

The convention, themed “Growing in Faith,” includes Mass celebrated by Bishop Edward Weisenburger at 11 a.m.

The trilogy of conference speakers includes Tony Brandt and Chris Stewart, founders of Casting Nets Ministries, and musician Noelle Garcia.

Brandt and Stewart will address how women can evangelize within their homes and families.

“I look at how much good my wife does in evangelization and what good she does with other ladies in the parish,” Brandt said. “(Women) have a unique role at home but also with other women in their parishes for evangelization.”

Brandt and Stewart are husbands and fathers who speak about the seven pillars of evangelization. Their topic is: “Growing your Faith by Sharing Your Faith.”

“Evangelization isn’t just Protestant/Catholic stuff,” Brandt said. “It’s evangelizing people in the pew, our family at home, our children and our spouses. This is what the church is. The church don’t have a mission, the church is a mission.”


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Catholic News Headlines

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Jonathan Bachman, ReutersBy Richard MeekBATON ROUGE, La. (CNS) -- Water lapped at the heels of Father Michael Galea, steady rain an arduous reminder of Mother Nature's unfinished business. With a sadness in his voice, Father Galea, pastor at Holy Rosary Church in St. Amant, estimated that as many as 90 percent of his parishioners were impacted during the recent historic flooding that touched nearly every corner of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. "It's going to change the whole dynamic of Holy Rosary as a parish as we know it," Father Galea told The Catholic Commentator, the diocesan newspaper. "It's not going to be the same. And we are going to lose quite a bit of people if they choose to move away. "But hopefully with love and compassion and a lot of hugs we can become a family all over again. That is what is most important is for us to be together again." Coming together as a family, whether it is a community, church parish or simply a family dinner, is a question many are asking in the wake of the floods that in some area dumped 20 inches of rain in as many hours. The carnage is stunning. In Central, it is estimated 27,000 out of 28,000 people were impacted, leaving some to speculate if the suburban community will be able to recover. In Livingston Parish, a civil jurisdiction, at least 75 percent of residents suffered some type of water damage, with most of the destruction major. Residents in the civil jurisdictions of East Baton Rouge, Ascension and Tangipahoa parishes also were forced to dig out. Much of Zachary was damaged, as the wide swath of destruction seems endless. In the aftermath many residential streets appeared to be mere passes surrounded by mountains of debris. And the stench permeates one's pores, a smell that eventually subsides but never leaves. Schools were closed, many for weeks, and businesses were struggling to reopen. Curfews were enacted in civil parishes throughout to lessen the threat of looting in the impacted areas. Some estimates are as high as 100,000 homes damaged, with thousands fleeing to evacuation shelters. The floodwaters claimed 13 lives, and many others survived only after being rescued from their rooftops, reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina 11 years ago. "We were straight up survival mode," said Tim Hasenkampf, a Baton Rouge fireman who lives in Port Vincent and lost his house because of flooding. "It's been tough," added Hasenkampf, who along with his friend spent hours in their private boats rescuing people from their homes in the area. According to Joe Ingraham, chief financial officer for the Baton Rouge Diocese, six churches took on water and the parish schools at two of those also were damaged. Cristo Rey Baton Rouge Franciscan High School, which opened in August, was inundated with 4 feet of water and has to relocate. Although the damage was widespread and costly, Ingraham managed to see the silver lining in the storm clouds that blanketed the area for nearly a week. "It could have been worse, when you see four churches out of 71 severely damaged," Ingraham said. "The worst thing is the damage to our parishioners and their homes." He said St. Alphonsus and Immaculate Conception were the most severely damaged, each with likely at least $1 million in damage. Those two churches along with St. Anne and Holy Rosary each had flood insurance for up to $500,000 per building, Ingraham said. Although St. Anthony and St. Jean Vianney did not have flood insurance because they were in areas that previously had never experienced any type of flooding, they are covered under a policy through the diocese. The storm, which first began to unleash its nearly weeklong fury Aug. 12, packed a one-two wallop that drove water into areas that had never experienced flooding. Initially, torrential rains from the slow-moving system initially caused street flooding, which also forced water into homes. But the greater damage came in the days that followed as area rivers overflowed their banks and flowed unfettered into neighborhoods, businesses and even major thoroughfares. At one point, Interstates 10 and 12, the two main arteries in and out of Baton Rouge, were closed. Along I-12, some motorists were trapped in their cars for more than 30 hours, presenting a unique opportunity for ministry for Father Jamin David, pastor at St. Margaret of Scotland Church in Albany. After surveying the 20 acres encompassing the parish grounds, Father David's focus shifted to the stranded motorists, who were without food, water or even a bathroom. "We opened up our facilities to everyone," Father David said. "It became a humanitarian effort. Really, it was the multiplication of the fishes." He said one stranded motorist was a caterer initially headed to Abita Springs, less than 40 miles from Albany. The caterer asked if she could use the parish's stove to cook the food she had with her so it would not go to waste. "We opened up the kitchen and fed about 500 people," Father David said, adding that the 20 acres around St. Margaret were fine but many of their parishioners have suffered major flooding. Even as the waters continued to rise, donations, in the form of cash, clothes, gift cards, cleaning supplies and other necessities began to filter in from all over the world. On Aug. 23, the Knights of Columbus donated $200,000 to the diocese and another $30,000 to the Knights' Louisiana State Council. In an ironic twist, a tractor-trailer from the University of Alabama dropped off a truckload of supplies at the Catholic Charities Diocese of Baton Rouge's warehouse. Pilots for Patients, a Louisiana-based volunteer pilot organization, flew in three Cessna planes loaded with supplies for the diocese to distribute. - - - Meek is editor and general manager of The Catholic Commentator, newspaper of the Diocese of Baton Rouge.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via EPABy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After a strong earthquake struck central Italy and with the early news reporting many deaths and serious damage, Pope Francis turned his weekly general audience Aug. 24 into a prayer service. While the pope and some 11,000 pilgrims and tourists recited the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary in St. Peter's Square, six Vatican firefighters were on their way to the town of Amatrice, about 85 miles east of Rome, to help search for victims under the rubble. The pope sent six Vatican police officers to join them the next day. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.2 quake had an epicenter close to Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict and home to a monastery of Benedictine monks, who are attracting a growing number of visitors because of their solemn prayer life and beer brewing business. The monks and their guests were all safe, but the monastery and Basilica of St. Benedict suffered serious structural damage. Smaller temblors -- at least two of which registered more than 5.0 -- continued even 24 hours after the main quake. By early Aug. 26, Italian officials said the death toll had reached 267, and 260 people were hospitalized with quake-related injuries. Rescuers had been able to pull 238 people out of the rubble. When Pope Francis arrived in St. Peter's Square for his general audience just six hours after the main quake, he set aside his prepared audience talk and instead spoke of his "heartfelt sorrow and my closeness" to everyone in the earthquake zone, especially those who lost loved ones and "those who are still shaken by fear and terror." "Having heard the mayor of Amatrice say, 'The town no longer exists,' and knowing that there are children among the dead, I am deeply saddened," Pope Francis said. Assuring the people in the region of the prayers and "the embrace of the whole church," the pope asked the crowd at the audience to join him in praying that "the Lord Jesus, who is always moved by human suffering, would console the brokenhearted and give them peace." Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, asked U.S. Catholics also to pray the rosary for the victims in Italy, as well as for the victims of other natural disasters, including those suffering because of the flooding in Louisiana. "Knowing all too well the personal toll of natural disasters in our own country, let us join with the Holy Father in prayer for everyone suffering from Louisiana to central Italy," the archbishop said in a statement Aug. 24. Bishop Domenico Pompili of Rieti, the diocese that includes Amatrice, said he received a phone call from Pope Francis at 7 a.m. the morning of the earthquake. The quake and first big aftershock were felt in Rome and woke the pope up, he said, adding that Pope Francis said he had celebrated Mass for the victims shortly after 4:30 a.m. Caritas Italy and its diocesan affiliates mobilized immediately with volunteers rushing to the impacted towns, helping with the search and rescue operation, providing food and blankets and helping to staff the tent cities erected by the Italian government outside the damaged towns. The Italian bishops' conference immediately pledged 1 million euros ($1.1 million) for relief efforts and asked all parishes to take up a special collection at Masses Sept. 18 to aid the victims. In Amatrice, one of the hardest-hit towns, the bodies of three nuns and four of the elderly guests they host in the summer were pulled lifeless from the rubble Aug. 25. Three nuns and two of the elderly were rescued at home run by the Handmaids of the Lord. Many of the small towns in the region have few residents who live there all year. But in the summer, people return to their families' native towns to visit grandparents and escape the heat of the big cities. The victims of the quake included dozens of children who were spending the last weeks of August with their grandparents. Government officials said an estimated 14,000 people were left homeless by the quake. In addition to houses and apartment buildings turned into rubble, dozens of churches and convents in the region crumbled or were heavily damaged. At the Benedictine monastery in Norcia, the 15 monks and five guests were already awake when the first quake hit, Benedictine Father Benedict Nivakoff told Catholic News Service. Aug. 24 is the feast of St. Bartholomew and "on feast days we get up earlier" to pray, he said. Within a half hour of the first quake, Father Nivakoff said, the square outside the monastery was filled with people "because it is the safest place in town -- around the statue of St. Benedict." While no buildings collapsed, "the facade seems to have detached" from the rest of the basilica and major repairs are likely, he said. The monks announced later Aug. 24 that two Benedictines would stay in Norcia, sleeping in tents outside the city walls, but the rest of the community would move temporarily to Rome as a "precautionary measure" as the aftershocks continued. Assisi is just 45 miles from Norcia and, according to Franciscan Father Enzo Fortunato, the quake was felt strongly at the convent and basilica that suffered major damage from an earthquake in 1997. While the quake woke all the friars, many of whom ran to the Basilica of St. Francis, no damage was visible, he told ANSA, the Italian news agency.- - -Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Robert DuncanBy Cindy WoodenROME (CNS) -- Blessed Teresa of Kolkata was a woman who truly felt wed to Jesus, and the freedom she experienced in loving him led her to radical poverty, a courageous outreach and an immense love for the poor, said the superior general of the order Mother Teresa founded. "She was very happy to be a woman and to be a mother to so many souls," Missionaries of Charity Sister Mary Prema Pierick told Catholic News Service. "Her freedom of loving opened the doors of hearts and avenues of service, which maybe were not so common, especially in sharing the radical poverty of the poor," said the blue-eyed, German-born sister, who was elected superior general in 2009. Mother Teresa, who will be canonized Sept. 4, began her order in the 1940s, walking into the slums of Kolkata, "having no convent walls to protect her," Sister Prema said. "But it was love for Jesus and love and compassion for the suffering of the poor that brought her to do what she did." At the main Missionaries of Charity house in Rome -- a whitewashed oasis above the roar of traffic around the Circus Maximus and near the crush of tourists at the Colosseum -- Sister Prema spoke of how natural it was that Mother Teresa would be declared a saint during the Year of Mercy. Mother Teresa is "an icon of mercy," she said. "Even people who would have no faith would see the compassion and the mercy which Mother spread around her. She would not leave a suffering person without giving attention to them. On the contrary, she would go out to search for them and try to bring them to the realization that they are loved and they are appreciated." A growing number of Missionaries of Charity continue Mother Teresa's work around the world. According to Sister Prema, the number of sisters has increased from 3,914 at the time of Mother Teresa's death to 5,161 as of Aug. 5. The number of Missionary of Charity brothers has grown by 53 to 416. When Mother Teresa was alive, her order was working in 120 countries; today they are present in 139 nations. Like millions of people around the world, Sister Prema believed Mother Teresa was "a living saint." She was beatified in 2003 -- six years after she died. The time it took for her sainthood cause to make its way through the exacting Vatican process "have been years of going deeper into understanding who she is," her successor said. As it turned out, the years were especially important in coming to understand Mother Teresa's spiritual thirst and what she described as "the darkness" of feeling unloved by God. Sister Prema, who first met Mother Teresa in 1980, said the founder's spiritual pain was something she kept well-hidden from all except her spiritual directors. "In all things, Mother did not draw attention to herself but gave herself completely to others, forgetting about her own pain," Sister Prema said. Her continuing prayer and work, even with the experience of God being so far away, "speaks about her faith, her faithfulness to the commitment she had taken and to the person to whom she was wed: Jesus." The "darkness" became part of Mother Teresa's ministry, the grace that gave it power. "It was part of her mission to the poorest of the poor, especially sinners who experienced their unwantedness and their rejection. Sharing their experience of darkness and of being away from God made her an instrument of grace for them," Sister Prema said. "And she had great compassion for those who did not know God and did not experience the love of God for them." Speaking in the sisters' garden, with blue-trimmed white saris drying on a clothes line, Sister Prema said Mother Teresa's persistence in prayer and works of mercy, even when she felt God was far from her, is a lesson for all believers. "Prayer is something we want to be faithful to rather than to be successful at," she said. And while the phrase "corporal and spiritual works of mercy" may sound old-fashioned to some people, Mother Teresa demonstrated the enduring power of those expressions of love, Sister Prema said. "However you phrase it, it is always modern because you are imitating Jesus and his compassion." The vast majority of people Mother Teresa tended to, caressed and accompanied were not Christian, Sister Prema said, but for her, they were Christ in disguise. Called, like all Christians to spread the Gospel, Mother Teresa "helped people to find Jesus in their own hearts and experience that love that God has for them just by the experience of her motherly attention and intense interest in their personal lives." "She had a great desire that all souls would get to know and love Jesus," Sister Prema said. But at the same time, "she knew that conversion is the work of God. The acts of charity and mercy, which she performed, came because of love for Jesus and for others." "God has to do the work of conversion," she said. "It's not a human work to convince a person to believe what I believe. It's a grace which a soul receives and for which we can pray." - - - Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. 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  • By Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When nonviolence is the basic approach of political decisions and public policy, it promotes the restoration and consolidation of peace, the Vatican said. In his message for the Jan. 1 celebration of World Peace Day, Pope Francis will offer reflections on the importance of nonviolence as a political choice, the Vatican said in a statement Aug. 26. "Nonviolence: A style of politics for peace" is the theme the pope chose for World Peace Day 2017, the Vatican said. A papal message on the theme will be sent to heads of states around the world in December. Pope Francis' frequent references to a "third world war in pieces" highlight the "serious negative social consequences" of violence, the Vatican statement said. "Peace, by contrast, promotes socially positive consequences and it allows the achievement of real progress. Therefore, we should act within what is possible, and negotiate ways of peace even where they seem tortuous and impractical," the Vatican statement said. By recognizing the rights and equal dignity of every person, the statement continued, nonviolence as a political method can "constitute a realistic way to overcome armed conflicts." "In this perspective, it becomes important to increasingly recognize not the right of force but the force of right," it said. In choosing nonviolence as the World Peace Day theme, the Vatican said, Pope Francis wants to indicate a "path of hope" in a world that needs to learn to settle disputes through negotiation rather than resorting to conflict fueled by the "scourge" of illegal arms trafficking. "It does not mean that one nation can remain indifferent to the tragedies of another. Rather it means a recognition of the primacy of diplomacy over the noise of arms," the Vatican statement said. - - - Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • By Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI said in an interview that he felt a "duty" to resign from the papacy because of his declining health and the rigorous demands of papal travel. While his heart was set on completing the Year of Faith, the retired pope told Italian journalist Elio Guerriero that after his visit to Mexico and Cuba in March 2012, he felt he was "incapable of fulfilling" the demands of another international trip, especially with World Youth Day 2013 scheduled for Brazil. "With the program set out by John Paul II for these (World Youth) days, the physical presence of the pope was indispensable," he told Guerriero in an interview, which is included in the journalist's upcoming biography of Pope Benedict. "This, too, was a circumstance which made my resignation a duty," the pope said. An excerpt of Guerriero's book, "Servant of God and Humanity: The Biography of Benedict XVI," was published Aug. 24 in the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica. Pope Benedict said that although he was moved by the "profound faith" of the people of Mexico and Cuba, it was during his visit to the two countries in 2012 that he "experienced very strongly the limits of my physical endurance." Among the problems with committing to the grueling schedule of an international trip was the change in time zones. Upon consulting with his doctor, he said, it became clear "that I would never be able to take part in the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro." "From that day, I had to decide in a relatively short time the date of my retirement," he said. Guerriero noted that while many believed the pope's retirement was a defeat for the church, Pope Benedict continues to seem "calm and confident." The retired pope said he "completely agreed" with the journalist's observation. "I would have been truly worried if I was not convinced -- as I had said in the beginning of my pontificate -- of being a simple and humble worker in the Lord's vineyard," he said. The retired pope added that while he was aware of his limitations, he accepted his election in 2005 "in a spirit of obedience" and that despite the difficult moments, there were also "many graces." "I realized that everything I had to do I could not do on my own and so I was almost obliged to put myself in God's hands, to trust in Jesus who -- while I wrote my book on him -- I felt bound to by an old and more profound friendship," he said. The retired pontiff spends his days in prayer and contemplation while residing at the Mater Ecclesiae monastery in Vatican City. For 19 years, different contemplative orders took turns living in the monastery with a mission focused on praying for the pope and the church. Benedict said that upon learning that the Visitandine nuns would be leaving the residence, he realized "almost naturally that this would be the place where I could retire in order to continue in my own way the service of prayer of which John Paul II had intended for this house." Among the visitors Pope Benedict receives is Pope Francis, who "never fails to visit me before embarking on a long trip," he said. Asked about his personal relationship with his successor, Pope Benedict said they shared a "wonderfully paternal-fraternal relationship" and he has been profoundly touched by his "extraordinarily human availability." "I often receive small gifts, personally written letters" from Pope Francis, he said. "The human kindness with which he treats me is a particular grace of this last phase of my life for which I can only be grateful. What he says about being open toward other men and women is not just words. He puts it into practice with me." Pope Francis, who wrote the book's preface, expressed his admiration for the retired pope and said his spiritual bond with his predecessor "remains particularly profound." "In all my meetings with him, I have been able to experience not only reverence and obedience, but also friendly spiritual closeness, the joy of praying together, sincere brotherhood, understanding and friendship, and also his availability for advice," Pope Francis wrote. The church's mission of proclaiming the merciful love of God for the world, he added, has and continues to be exemplified in the life of Pope Benedict. "The whole life of thought and the works of Joseph Ratzinger have focused on this purpose and -- in the same direction, with the help of God -- I strive to continue," Pope Francis wrote. - - - Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.