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Group from Salina Diocese attends Convocation

What an incredible experience! The nation’s bishops were privileged to interact with some wonderful Catholic people. In my case, not only did I get to know better some of those doing wonderful ministries in parishes throughout our diocese, but I also got to listen to some incredible speakers on the national level.

The background to the Convocation was Pope Francis’ wonderful Encyclical, Evangelium Gaudium. It is there that Pope Francis points out that there are three focuses to evangelization and ministry. The first is that which we typically associate with parish life: Mass and Sacramental ministries, along with parish community events. This focus of ministry grounds the life of practicing Catholics and leads us more deeply into communion with our triune God.  

A second focus of evangelization is to those who no longer practice the Catholic faith regularly. They remain a part of our church, perhaps in an imperfect communion, but they are a part of us. Reaching out to them is critical to the wellbeing of the body of Christ — the Church. 

A third focus of ministry is on those who have no relationship with Christ. This is what most Catholics associate with the term evangelization. For us to preach the Gospel to them, especially by living joyful lives that witness to God’s love and mercy, is crucial. In one way or another the Convocation spoke to each of these levels of ministry and fruitful ideas for evangelization flowed. 

There was a host of different breakout sessions each participant could go to. Like most diocesan representations, our group chose to split up so that the eight of us could cover as many of the topics as possible. I focused on contemporary culture and media, vocations to priesthood and religious life  and the concerns of rural life in America. 

If there were one significant take-away for me, it would be that I don’t want to face God one day never having invited at least one person into the joys and life that I know as a Roman Catholic. What an incredible blessing it would be for our diocese if every member, in the remaining weeks of summer, invited one person who has no church to consider becoming Catholic. After all, there isn’t one community in our diocese that doesn’t have unchurched people. Our RCIA groups would flourish, our parishes would grow, and the body of Christ would be more complete. Success, however, isn’t the key. 

The key is to be an instrument of God’s grace by issuing the invitation. So — if you’re willing — look around, and trust me, you’ll find that person Jesus wants you to invite to the Church. Let go of the fear of rejection or failure. Be the evangelizing Catholic that Christ calls you to be today.­

Annual men’s conference to focus on mission of men

Hays — Catholic men aren’t wimps.

That’s one topic that will be addressed by Dr. Ray Guarendi at the sixth annual Salina Diocesan Men’s Conference on Saturday, Aug. 12 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.

Dr. Guarendi is the father of 10, is a clinical psychologist, author, professional speaker and national radio and TV host.  “In my experience as a psychologist, I’ve seen a lot of wimpy men,” he said. “They let their wives carry the domestic load, the discipline load and the Church load.  “I can’t tell you how much a wife complains about men not standing up and being men. The women are not happy about carrying all of that load.”  Dr. Guarendi will also talk about his reversion to the Catholic faith in his talk “The Logic of Being Catholic.”

The day-long conference will begin at 8 a.m. with the Rosary. Other aspects of the conference include Eucharistic adoration, Reconciliation, Mass with Bishop Edward Weisenburger, lunch, and Q&A.  Capuchin Father John Lager, who is the national chaplain of Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), will also present two talks: “Living in Integrity and with Purpose” and “Being a Christian Man in a Secular and Superficial World.”

The theme for the conference, which is open to all men high school and older, is “Men on a Mission.”  “My experience is that if there isn’t a clear direction or mission we are called to keep our eyes on, it’s easy to be distracted and manipulated by culture. It’s easy to get lost,” Father Lager said.

In addition to FOCUS, he is the co-founder of Marked Men for Christ, an international men’s ministry.  “The whole purpose is how do we continue to deepen our own personal spirituality and prayer life,” Father Lager said. “How can we be leaders in our families and parishes and marketplace in today’s world? Without a clear vision of a mission, that will never happen.”

A native of Angelus, Father Lager attended minor seminary in Victoria. His intention was to study for the diocesan priesthood, but the seminary formation drew him to the Capuchin life.

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Celebrating the beauty of family

The Register

Salina — He was from a big family; she was from a small one.

Santos Bonilla grew up with nine siblings. Marlene, who he married in 1969, grew up with three siblings.  “The family was a joke that he wanted a small family and I wanted a large family,” Marlene said. “We had five kids, so we both got our wish.”  In advance of the 2017 Natural Family Planning Awareness Week, which is July 23-29, the Bonillas sat down to talk about the year’s theme, which is “It’s time! Say ‘Yes’ to God’s plan for married love.”

Early in their marriage, Santos said they were introduced to Natural Family Planning (NFP), which is defined as methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

 

They had three children by the time they encountered NFP while they were living in Topeka.  “I thought NFP was kind of crazy because I didn’t know what it was,” Santos said. “I thought they were trying to control me. I thought ‘They’re not going to control me.’   “She started learning it and I was rather resistant because I didn’t know much about my own religion.”  The couple was involved with adult education, which is where the concept was introduced to them.  “We learned it from other Catholics,” Marlene said.

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Now accepting applications for century farm award

Wilson — On Sunday, August 20, the Salina Diocese Catholic Rural Life Commission will sponsor the annual Catholic Rural Life Day. Rural Life Day is at 3 p.m. Aug. 20 at St. Wenceslaus Parish.  

The highlight of the observance is the presentation of the Msgr. John George Weber Century Farm Awards. Any Catholic family who has been in charge of a farm, owned, or operated a farm for one hundred years or more is eligible for the award. 

The 2017 awards are primarily for the parishes in the East Central Deanery, however, any Catholic family in the diocese who meets the criteria for the Century Farm Award may apply. 

The plaque is a nice remembrance of our ancestors and a great way to foster our Catholic heritage and faith. The award ceremony will be followed by refreshments and socializing. 

The stories of the families for the Century Farm Award reflect the growth of the faith and the Church in our diocese. The family story affects and reflects the story of their local parish as well. 

The Rural Life Commission serves the mission of the Church by promoting the care of God's creation and the welfare of the people who depend on it. 

For additional information, please visit http://salinadiocese.org/rural-life, or call Father Rich Daise (785)-462-2179 or Father Brian Lager (785)-434-4658.

Natural Family Planning is empowering, unifying for marriage

For The Register

“NFP? That’s just the Catholic Church’s version of birth control, right?”

“You use NFP? You must want a dozen kids!”

“NFP isn’t a guaranteed method of preventing pregnancy, so you might want to consider an additional method of birth control.”

How many times have you heard, or worse, expressed, any of those statements? I’ve been on the receiving end of such comments (unsurprisingly, I heard the last one from my former OB/GYN) numerous times in the 12 years I’ve been married, and even prior to that as my husband and I were learning the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning (NFP) during our engagement. It doesn’t get any easier to hear the tone of incredulity or shock in the voices of those with whom I’m discussing NFP or my husband’s and my use of it, but I have become much more confident in explaining why we use it. I’d like to share three of those reasons with you here in the hope that it will either confirm what you know and already practice or, if you are not currently utilizing this tool, entice you to give NFP a closer look.

First, NFP is empowering and personal in a way that no birth control can ever be. When taught and learned properly, NFP gives the couple knowledge about the woman’s body — the signs and cycles that make her and her fertility unique. For my husband and me, knowing how my body is supposed to work, how God intended it to work, is a powerful tool and brings a different level of intimacy to our marriage. It not only aids us when it comes to planning our family, but it helps us gain a clear picture of my overall reproductive health. I have friends who have credited NFP with helping them discover health problems or with helping their doctor figure out how to treat those issues. Knowledge is power! 

It further empowers us by teaching that regardless of what our national culture would have us believe, we really can be in control of our sexual desires and delay gratification! (Bet you’ll never hear that from Hollywood!)   

Conversely, conventional birth control methods — pills, IUDs, diaphragms, condoms, etc. — are wholly impersonal and are marketed (dare I say, used?) as a fix for something that isn’t broken or to simply make controlling your sexual desires less worrisome. They take meaning away from the act of love that God designed sex to embody and reduce it to merely a physical act that now has a commercial element. Yes, commerce enters into the birth control picture because you have to pay someone else for a product that will help you gain control over your fertility — a bandaid for something that isn’t broken — or let you give in to whatever your body desires whenever the urge strikes. 

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New family life event planned

The Register

Salina — Families are invited to gather July 28 and 29 to join in praise and worship music, Eucharistic adoration and an inspiring message.  This is the first year for Prayer and Praise for Children and Families, which is sponsored by the Office of Family Life.  “In our rural diocese it is difficult to sponsor diocesan wide events with much success due to the large geographical size,” said Corey Lyon, Director of the Office of Family Life. “Many parishes sponsor family events, but it is important for the diocese to organize family events as well to provide opportunities for the faithful to appreciate their belonging to something beyond just their local community.”

In order to cover a larger geographic region, an event is planned in both Colby and Salina.  Mike and Kelley Burns will provide praise and worship music for both events. The Burns’ live in Columbia, Mo., with their four children, ages 3 to 13, two dogs and six chickens. 

Married for 14 years, the duo met while singing in the church choir in college. Mike is a pharmacy manager and Kelley is the part-time director of a local non-profit focused on music education. The couple continues to sing and play music at church as well as volunteer with National Marriage Encounter.

“Our hope is to provide an opportunity for families to pray and worship and draw closer to the heart of Jesus together,” Lyon said. “The young people of our diocese who attend Steubenville Conferences, NCYC, the Diocesan CYO Convention, or other similar events have an opportunity to experience Praise and Worship and eucharistic adoration in a large group. Often, adult Catholics do not often have access to this experience. These can be very powerful moments that draw many people to conversion and are often not long forgotten.”

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Annual Catholic Charities fundraiser is July 23

The Register

Salina — Supporters have the chance to double their donation for the 12th Annual Catholic Charities Fundraiser. Donations up to $100,000 will be doubled, thanks to a multitude of anonymous donors, said Eric Frank, Director of Development for Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas.

“This is the largest donation match we’ve had to date,” Frank said. “Only God can make things like this happen. Now, more families in crisis­ can get the help they need to improve their lives.”  The annual fundraiser contributes to a large portion of the organization’s annual operating budget. The event will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m. July 23 at the Salina Country Club, 2101 E. Country Club Rd., Salina. Seating is limited for the event, and an RSVP is required.

This will be the second year the event is at the Salina Country Club.  “We saw many new faces at the event last year,” Frank said. “Some stated we’re advancing the event to another level.”  Catholic Charities hit the next level, only in terms of location, but last year’s fundraiser raised the most to date — more than $294,000. This year, Frank said the goal is to hit the $300,000 mark.

In April, Catholic Charities celebrated the grand opening of its new location at 1500 S. Ninth in Salina. An anonymous donor and the “Yesterday, Today and Forever” Campaign paid for much of the facility, Frank said. Yet there are a few items left to pay for, as well as the ongoing general operating expenses. 

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Featured Events

Catholic News Headlines

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Pascal Rossignol, ReutersBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The martyrdom of a French priest killed a year ago while celebrating Mass was an event that "has transformed me as a bishop," Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen said. Father Jacques Hamel's life -- "simple and exemplary -- questions me as a pastor and shepherd on how to consider the life of priests, on what I expect from them in terms of efficiency. I must tirelessly convert, to pass from this request for efficiency to admiration for their fruitfulness," the archbishop said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. Father Hamel was murdered July 26, 2016, when two men claiming allegiance to the Islamic State stormed his parish church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen. After taking several hostages, the attackers slit Father Hamel's throat and seriously injured another parishioner. Witnesses say that in his final moments, the beloved 85-year-old parish priest tried to push away his attackers with his feet, saying "go away, Satan." Following a standoff, police killed the attackers, ending the hostage situation. Despite the violent nature of Father Hamel's death at the hands of terrorists claiming to be Muslims, his martyrdom instead has drawn the Catholic and Muslim communities in the diocese closer together, Archbishop Lebrun said. "This tragic event shared by others has brought me closer to the local society in its diverse components: naturally to the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and then to the other municipalities in the area," the archbishop said. "And from now on, I am bound to the Muslim community and to the other communities of believers in the territory of my diocese." Father Hamel's martyrdom drew the attention of Pope Francis who celebrated a memorial Mass for him Sept. 14, 2016, with Archbishop Lebrun, Roselyne Hamel, Father Hamel's sister, and 80 pilgrims from the diocese. When Archbishop Lebrun presented the pope with a photo of Father Hamel, the pope asked him to place it on the altar and after the Mass told the archbishop, "You can put this photo in the church because he is 'blessed' now, and if anyone says you aren't allowed, tell them the pope gave you permission." Archbishop Lebrun told L'Osservatore Romano that he then spoke with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, regarding the opening of Father Hamel's sainthood cause and the possibility of accelerating "the process to take advantage of the elements of proof which are the testimonies of the other victims of the attack, who are mainly elderly." The first meeting in the process for Father Hamel's sainthood cause took place May 20, and the results of the local investigation into his life should be completed and ready for Vatican review from one to three years from now, the archbishop said. Meanwhile, Father Hamel's life and martyrdom remains "an extremely powerful event" that has united the diocese, priests, the church in France, people within the territory and the Muslim community, Archbishop Lebrun said. "Father Hamel has sown peace," he said. - - - Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2017 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/Sashenka Gutierrez, EPABy David AgrenMEXICO CITY (CNS) -- The Mexican bishops' conference does not believe an explosive device detonated outside its offices -- adjacent to the country's most visited religious site, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe -- is an attack on the Catholic Church. The motive for the July 25 explosion remains a mystery, though some in the conference said it reflected the violence suffered by society at large in a country with soaring homicide rates and a decade-long drug cartel crackdown. "This act invites us to reflect emphatically, to reconstruct our social fabric to provide better security for all citizens," Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso Miranda Guardiola of Monterrey, conference secretary-general, told media the day of the explosion. Humberto Roque Villanueva, Mexico's undersecretary for population, migration and religious matters, called the explosion "a message of hate," during an interview with the newspaper El Universal. "I believe it is the regrettable need for priests to be very close to those in conflict ...," Roque said, "but I do not see that it is an orchestrated action, nor is it in itself a deliberate action or joining other actions against the Catholic Church." A statement provided to Catholic News Service by Armando Cavazos, bishops' conference media director, said an explosion occurred July 25 at around 1:50 a.m. outside the main entrance to its offices in northern Mexico City. The type of device used remained unknown, and detectives were investigating the explosion, the statement said. Mexican media reported the device was a Molotov cocktail. "It appears this is not the first case that has occurred in this area of CDMX," the statement said, using Mexico City's abbreviation. The bishops' offices occupy a busy strip across the street from the sanctuary of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The area is swarmed by pilgrims and tourists during the daytime and is transited by commuters in rush hour. Bishop Ramon Castro Castro of Cuernavaca released the first images of the detonation via Twitter early July 25. "I believe this reflects the situation in Mexico," said Bishop Castro, who has spoken against violence affecting his diocese, just south of Mexico City. Other bishops expressed similar sentiments, though one prelate took the attack as a signal to tread carefully. "In this context of intimidation, destabilization, putting people up against the wall, this violence against a building that has a special symbolism is understood because it is the episcopal conference's," Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo told the newspaper El Norte. "They're tell the bishops: 'Stay quiet, stay still and don't move,'" said Bishop Vera, who has displeased the governing party in his northern state by denouncing a June election there as rigged. Mexico recently suffered its most murderous month in 20 years with 2,234 homicides recorded in June. Mexico City also has experienced an upswing in crime, according to federal statistics. The violence engulfing Mexico has not left the Catholic Church untouched, even though census data shows 83 percent of the population professing the faith. At least 18 Mexican priests have been murdered over the past five years, according to the Centro Catolico Multimedial, for reasons that confound Catholic officials. - - -Copyright © 2017 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/Peter Nicholls, ReutersBy Simon CaldwellMANCHESTER, England (CNS) -- Pope Francis is praying for the parents of Charlie Gard after a U.S. doctor told them nothing could be done to help their son. Chris Gard and Connie Yates announced in London's High Court July 24 that they had ended their legal struggle to take their baby overseas for treatment after a U.S. neurologist, Dr. Michio Hirano, said he was no longer willing to offer Charlie experimental nucleoside therapy after he examined the results of a new MRI scan. Their decision means that the child, who suffers from encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, will receive only palliative care and most likely will die before his first birthday Aug. 4. Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said in a July 24 statement that Pope Francis, who had taken a personal interest in the case, "is praying for Charlie and his parents and feels especially close to them at this time of immense suffering." He said: "The Holy Father asks that we join in prayer that they may find God's consolation and love." The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales also issued a statement July 24 in which they expressed their "deepest sympathy and compassion" for Charlie and his parents. "It is for Charlie, his parents and family that we all pray, hoping that they are able, as a family, to be given the support and the space to find peace in the days ahead," the statement said. "Their farewell to their tiny and precious baby touches the hearts of all who, like Pope Francis, have followed this sad and complex story. Charlie's life will be lovingly cherished until its natural end," the statement continued. A July 24 statement from the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, a bioethical institute of the Catholic Church in the U.K. and Ireland, said it was now time "to remember the preciousness of the child at the heart of this case, and to allow his parents to be with him until he passes from this life." "If further treatment may no longer be worthwhile, Charlie's life is inherently worthwhile, having the dignity and irreplaceability of every human life, and this will remain so even in the coming days," it said. Charlie's parents, who live in London, had fought for eight months for medical help that might have saved the life of their son. They raised 1.3 million pounds (US$1.7 million) to take him abroad for treatment, but the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London had argued that Charlie was beyond help and that it was not in his best interests to be kept alive, triggering a protracted legal battle with the parents that led to interventions from U.S. President Donald Trump and from the pope. At a news conference July 25 in Rome, Mariella Enoc, president of the Vatican children's hospital, Bambino Gesu, said the hospital had partnered with Hirano to study Charlie Gard's case. The hospital agreed with Hirano that the child's illness had proceeded too far for treatment, which might or might not have worked six months earlier. But "the plug was not pulled without having tried to respond to a legitimate request by the parents and without having examined fully the condition of the child and the opportunities offered by researchers on an international level," the hospital said in a statement. The lesson learned, Enoc told reporters, was that scientific research must continue and that much more attention must be given to the relationship between researchers, physicians, patients and their families. In a statement to the court, Charlie's parents said: "We are about to do the hardest thing that we'll ever have to do, which is to let our beautiful little Charlie go. ... Put simply, this is about a sweet, gorgeous, innocent little boy who was born with a rare disease, who had a real, genuine chance at life and a family who love him so very dearly, and that's why we fought so hard for him." "Had Charlie been given the treatment sooner, he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy," they said. "We have always believed that Charlie deserved a chance at life." "One thing that does give us the slightest bit of comfort is that we truly believe that Charlie may have been too special for this cruel world," they continued. Concluding the statement, the couple said: "Mummy and Daddy love you so much Charlie, we always have and we always will, and we are so sorry that we couldn't save you. We had the chance but we weren't allowed to give you that chance. Sweet dreams baby. Sleep tight our beautiful little boy." - - -Copyright © 2017 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/Joshua Roberts, ReutersBy Carol ZimmermannWASHINGTON (CNS) -- After the Senate voted July 25 to proceed with the health care debate, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, urged senators of both parties to "work together to advance changes that serve the common good." The statement from Bishop Dewane, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said the health care reform proposals currently under consideration would "harm millions of struggling Americans by leaving too many at risk of losing adequate health coverage and continue to exclude too many people, including immigrants." "We are grateful for the efforts to include protections for the unborn, however, any final bill must include full Hyde Amendment provisions and add much-needed conscience protections. The current proposals are simply unacceptable as written, and any attempts to repeal the ACA (Affordable Care Act) without a concurrent replacement is also unacceptable," he said in a July 25 statement. During the procedural vote on the Senate floor, 50 Republicans voted yes and two GOP senators -- Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska -- voted no, along with the Senate's 48 Democrats. The tiebreaking vote was necessary from Vice President Mike Pence, as president of the Senate. The vote to debate health care legislation took place after months of ongoing discussion and leaves Senate Republicans with a few options, including completely replacing the health care law, or voting for what has been described as a "skinny" repeal that would remove parts of the Affordable Care Act. They also could pass a measure that would repeal the current law without implementing a replacement. As votes were being cast, all eyes were on Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who returned to the Senate floor just days after being diagnosed with brain cancer, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, who had not assured the Senate of his vote prior to the tally. Just prior to the procedural vote, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, majority leader, urged fellow senators not to let this moment slip by. "All we have to do today is to have the courage to begin the debate," he added as protesters yelled in the background: "Kill the bill, don't kill us." "Shame." "Will we begin the debate on one of the most important issues confronting America today?" he asked before answering: "It is my hope that the answer will be yes." Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, minority leader, stressed that Democrats had been "locked out" of the recent health care debate and he warned that the Republican plan will "certainly mean drastic cuts" in Medicaid and would cause many to lose health care insurance. McCain urged his colleagues to "trust each other" and "return to order" after casting his vote to move the debate forward. In his July 25 statement, Bishop Dewane said, "There is much work to be done to remedy the ACA's shortcomings" and he called on the Senate to make the necessary changes. He also stressed that "current and impending barriers to access and affordability under the ACA must be removed, particularly for those most in need. Such changes can be made with narrower reforms that do not jeopardize the access to health care that millions currently receive," he added. - - - Carolyn Mackenzie contributed to this report. Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim. - - -Copyright © 2017 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/Junno Arocho EstevesBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While Rome reels from one of its worst droughts in decades, the Vatican is doing its part to conserve water by shutting down the city-state's 100 fountains. The office governing Vatican City State announced July 25 that the drought has "led the Holy See to take measures aimed at saving water" by shutting down fountains in St. Peter's Square, throughout the Vatican Gardens and in the territory of the state. "The decision is in line with the teachings of Pope Francis, who reminds us in his encyclical 'Laudato Si'' how 'the habit of wasting and discarding' has reached 'unprecedented levels' while 'fresh drinking water is an issue of primary importance, since it is indispensable for human life and for supporting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems,'" the office said. The prolonged drought has forced officials from the Lazio region of Italy to halt pumping water from Lake Bracciano, located roughly 19 miles north of Rome. Less than usual rainfalls in the past two years have steadily depleted the lake, which provides 8 percent of the city's water supply. In an interview with Italian news outlet Tgcom24, Nicola Zingaretti, the region's president, said the lake's water level has "fallen too much and we risk an environmental disaster." While the drought already forced Rome city officials to shut down some of Rome's public drinking fountains in June, it may lead to strict water rationing for the city's estimated 1.5 million residents. City officials may also take the Vatican's lead and shut down water pouring down from Rome's many ancient fountains. Pilgrims and visitors alike have marveled at the majestic fountains of St. Peter's Square that have cascaded water for centuries since their construction in the 17th century. While the source of water was once provided from an ancient Roman aqueduct, the two fountains, as well as 10 percent of Vatican City State's 100 fountains "recirculate water currently," Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service in a July 25 email. Others, he added, "will eventually be transformed in order to recirculate" the same water rather than let it be wasted by running into the drainage or sewer system. Burke told CNS that the Vatican's move to switch off the fountains located within its territory is "a way to show a good example" in conserving water as the city deals with the crisis. "We're not going to be able to solve Rome's water problem this summer, but we can do our part," Burke said. "This is the Vatican putting 'Laudato Si'' into action. Let's not waste water." - - - Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2017 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.