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The Annual Appeal contributes to a lasting difference

Salina — If you could make a lasting difference in the life of one person, would you do so?  

We all have an opportunity to make a difference in not just one life but many lives, young and old, by donating to the 2017 Catholic Community Annual Appeal (CCAA). This year’s CCAA,”The Lord is Good to all; He has Compassion on all He has made,” seeks to raise $1 million to help fund the day-to-day operations of our ministries throughout the Diocese of Salina. From subsidizing Catholic schools to funding youth and adult programs, the CCAA helps to educate young and old about their faith.

This year’s CCAA donors are encouraged to make one-time contributions or pledge a gift amount monthly or quarterly through the end of the year. As of Feb. 28, $573,630 has been pledged toward the 2017 goal. The 1,877 gifts received to date represent 10 percent of the households of the diocese. Four parishes already have met or exceeded their goals. But there is so much more to accomplish before the end of the year. 

This weekend, March 11 and 12 there will be an in-pew solicitation for the CCAA to give to people who have not had an opportunity to make a donation to do so. Pledge cards and envelopes will be available in all parishes for those who need them. 

All registered parishioners received a packet with a letter from Bishop Edward Weisenburger in February asking for their prayerful consideration and support of this important appeal. Those who did not receive a packet and would like to receive the above-mentioned packet can call the Office of Development at (785) 827-8746, or they can donate online at salinadiocese.org/development/catholic-community-annual-appeal. At the beginning of the appeal, Bishop Weisenburger shared an audio message at all Masses. The message in English and Spanish also can be found on the diocesan website. 

Here are the ministries that are supported through the appeal, “The Lord is Good to all; He has Compassion on all He has made:”

  • $200,000 for seminarians, deacons, vocations, priests’ continuing education
  • $154,250 for Catholic schools subsidies
  • $109,000 for Catholic education and formation
  • $132,500 for priests’ retirement
  • $126,500 for priests’ health care
  • $ 163,000 for diocesan administration
  • $ 50,000 for five national collections
  • $ 49,000 for Family Life and Natural Family Planning
  • $ 9,000 for Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas
  • $ 6,250 for Respect Life.

Aaron Dlabal, Wilson, to enter seminary in fall

Salina — The newest seminarian for the Diocese of Salina said his entry into the seminary flows from a desire to follow a path of life that helps people.

“During my sophomore year (of high school), I knew I’d been very blessed in my life,” said Aaron Dlabal. “I knew I wanted to be in an occupation to help people. I considered working in science or the priesthood.”

The son of Jim and the late Rosemary Dlabal, he has three siblings: brother Joshua is 25, sister Justine is 23 and brother Ethan, is 16.

Prayer and Action, the diocese’s summer program, that let Dlabal meet other seminarians and receive advice on discernment. 

“The first year, Andy Hammeke said when you find your vocation, you’re at peace with yourself, even if you don’t know what will happen or how to prepare for it, you’ll be at peace,” Dlabal said.

Dlabal, currently a senior at Wilson High School, said he took his question to his quiet, empty hometown church, St. Wenceslaus in Wilson.

“I really felt God calling me,” he said. “I realized that spiritual welfare is above material welfare. The things I really cared about was that people were spiritually well and I wanted to help with that.”

Father Gale Hammerschmidt, co-vocation director for the diocese, said it’s been nearly a decade since a seminarian entered immediately after high school graduation.

During high school, Dlabal has been involved with CYO at his parish, as well as participated in Prayer and Action and Totus Tuus. He is currently on the CYO Diocesan Youth Council.

In the parish, he is a lector, cantor and altar boy. At school, he participates in cross country, track, theater, drama, Scholars Bowl, science club, National Honor Society and Student Council. 

Dlabal will begin his studies at Conception Seminary College in Conception, Mo. in the fall.

Catholic Charities, Salina, open house is March 25

Salina — The public is invited to an open house for the new headquarters for Catholic Charities of Northern Kansas: March 25 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at 1500 S. 9th St. in Salina.

The new building, which will replace the former location at 425 W. Iron Ave, will nearly triple the amount of space for the programs of CCNKS.

“This new location is being configured into a much more workable space for the services Catholic Charities provides today which have immensely changed over time,” wrote CCNKS Executive Director Michelle Martin in a newsletter to volunteers and donors. “The new offices provide greater visibility and easier access to clients.”

Services were provided for nearly 60 years from the offices at 425 W. Iron Ave. The West Iron location housed many services for CCNKS over the years. Most notably, the facility functioned as an orphanage until 1991. 

Two years ago, a donor offered to assist Catholic Charities to purchase a new facility. With the commitment of this anonymous gift and the Salina Diocese 2010 Capital Campaign Yesterday, Today and Forever, the agency purchased another building and began renovations. 

Throughout this process,  donors and businesses have assisted with discounts, in-kind donations and financial gifts (including money raised for the Itemless-Item at the 2016 fundraiser). 

The Open House will allow the public to preview the new location at 1500 S. 9th before services are relocated to the new building.

Catholic high schools join in Mass, prayer prior to games

The Register

Hays — While it’s not unusual for Catholic high schools in Hays, Salina and Hutchinson to play one another in basketball, this year marked the first time the schools joined in Mass and prayer prior to the tipoff.

Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior-Senior High School extended the invitation to both Sacred Heart High Junior/Senior High School in Salina and Trinity Catholic Junior/Senior High School in Hutchinson to celebrate Mass and a prayer service prior to the games.

“It’s more than about sports,” said Joe Hammersmith, principal and boys coach at Trinity. “We have bigger missions as schools — to educate at a higher level. What makes it unique is the spiritual. Sports is only a part of things.”

When Chad Meitner, principal of TMP approached him about the athletes celebrating Mass together and having a prayer service before the Feb. 23 game in Hays, Hammersmith jumped at the chance.

 

“With Catholic schools we wanted to highlight the shared heritage,” Meitner said. “We wanted to make sure it was a game that was unlike any other game.”

He also contacted the administration at Sacred Heart in Salina, expressing the same desire for the Jan. 7 game.

“We need to be able to be sure we practice what we preach when we say we put God first, that the teachings of Christ are most important,” Meitner said. “By taking the time to step aside we showed the students it wasn’t the most convenient or easiest, but it was worth it.”

Derek Dreher, a senior from Trinity said he appreciated the addition of Mass and a prayer service.

“I enjoyed the change this year and that they combined it and made the faith a bigger part of the game,” said Dreher, whose parents Steve ’87 and Kerri ’90 (Brungardt) Dreher are TMP graduates. “I’ve been going to games at TMP since I was in junior high. (Adding Mass before the game) was a whole new feel. It made you down to earth. You’re in the same room as the team you’re going to play in a few hours.”

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  • IMAGE: CNS/Gregory A. ShemitzBy George P. Matysek Jr.WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal William H. Keeler, Baltimore's 14th archbishop, who was an international leader in Catholic-Jewish relations and the driving force behind the restoration of America's first cathedral, died March 23 at his residence at St. Martin's Home for the Aged in Catonsville. He was 86. The archdiocese said the cardinal will lie in repose March 27 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption in Baltimore. His funeral will be celebrated March 28 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, also in Baltimore.Pope Francis, in a papal telegram March 24, sent condolences to Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori and the archdiocese, expressing gratitude for "Cardinal Keeler's years of devoted episcopal ministry" and his "long-standing commitment to ecumenical and interreligious understanding. He called the cardinal a "wise and gentle pastor." "One of the great blessings in my life was coming to know Cardinal Keeler," Archbishop Lori said in a statement March 23. "Cardinal Keeler will be greatly missed. I am grateful to the Little Sisters for their devoted care for the cardinal." Cardinal Keeler was the bishop of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, when he was appointed the 14th archbishop of Baltimore in 1989. Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal in 1994. He retired in 2007. As president of the U.S. bishops' conference from 1992 to 1995, he participated in a wide range of national and international issues. As part of his work with what is now the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Keeler developed a reputation for effectively building interfaith bonds. He is particularly noted for his work in furthering Catholic-Jewish dialogue. He was appointed moderator of Catholic-Jewish Relations for the USCCB. "As a priest, bishop of Harrisburg and archbishop of Baltimore, the cardinal worked to bring the hope of Christ to people's lives," said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston Houston, who is president of the USCCB. "He also built bridges of solidarity to people of other faiths as a leader in ecumenism and interreligious affairs. "Cardinal Keeler was a dear friend. The most fitting tribute we can offer is to carry forward his episcopal motto in our daily lives: 'Do the work of an evangelist,'" Cardinal DiNardo said in a statement. He called the late cardinal "a servant of priestly virtue and gentlemanly manner" who is remembered by the USCCB for "his generosity of spirit in service to his brothers and the people of God." Cardinal Keeler's death leaves the College of Cardinals with 223 members, 17 of whom are from the United States. The College of Cardinals has 117 members under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave. In his statement, Archbishop Lori remarked on "the respect and esteem" in which the cardinal was held by his brother bishops, and praised his leadership in Jewish-Catholic relations and in Orthodox-Catholic relations. Archbishop Lori also said he was known for his "prowess as a church historian" and had a "deep love and respect for the history and heritage of the Archdiocese of Baltimore." Cardinal Keeler was an ardent promoter of the Catholic Church's teaching on the sanctity of all human life. He twice served as chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities and testified at all levels of government on legislation ranging from abortion to euthanasia to capital punishment. Among the cardinal's many accomplishments in the Baltimore Archdiocese, Archbishop Lori highlighted "the wonderful visit of Pope St. John Paul II to Baltimore in 1995, the restoration of the Basilica of the Assumption and the creation of Partners in Excellence which has helped thousands of young people from disadvantaged neighborhoods to receive a sound Catholic education." "When I would visit the cardinal at the Little Sisters of the Poor (in Cardinal Keeler's retirement), I gave him a report on my stewardship and told him many times that we were striving to build upon his legacy -- a legacy that greatly strengthened the church and the wider community," Archbishop Lori said. Born in San Antonio and raised in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, William Henry Keeler knew from an early age he was called to the priesthood. In a 2005 interview with the Catholic Review, Baltimore's archdiocesan newspaper, he recalled visiting his grandfather's farm in Illinois when the local Catholic pastor stopped by for a visit -- pointing to the 4-year-old boy and announcing that he would one day become a priest. He was ordained a priest in Rome July 17, 1955. He served as assistant pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Marysville, Pennsylvania, before taking on other assignments as secretary to Harrisburg Bishop George L. Leech and as a "peritus," or special adviser, during Second Vatican Council meetings in Rome. He later was named vice chancellor and vicar general of the Harrisburg Diocese and named an auxiliary bishop for the diocese in 1979. Four years later he was appointed its bishop. "He was a true churchman whom we are greatly honored to have called a priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg," said Bishop W. Ronald Gainer, head of the diocese since 2014. "His roots and Catholic education in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, prepared him to do great work for the people of God. "This area and diocese benefited significantly from his leadership and passion for service and evangelization," Bishop Gainer said. As a priest and bishop, Cardinal Keeler "worked fruitfully to advance increased cooperation and warmer relationships between different Christian communities, both locally and nationally. ... I thank God for his priestly life and ministry and for his inspiring service to all."Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington called it "a privilege to have known Cardinal Keeler for more than three decades."Besides collaborating on USCCB initiatives, he noted that when he was Pittsburgh's bishop, 1988-2006, and Cardinal Keeler was Harrisburg's bishop, the two worked closely together through the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference. When then-Bishop Wuerl was named Washington's archbishop, and Cardinal Keeler was Baltimore's archbishop, they again had an "opportunity to work on important initiatives through our roles with the Maryland Catholic Conference," Cardinal Wuerl said. The Washington Archdiocese includes some Maryland counties."Cardinal Keeler was a beloved pastor of souls, exemplary leader, and a respected collaborator in ministry," he added in a March 23 statement. "His episcopal motto, 'Do the Work of an Evangelist,' foresaw our efforts now in the new evangelization and his efforts to build bridges among peoples offered us an example that is much needed in today's culture."As Baltimore's archbishop and head of the nation's first archdiocese, the 1995 papal visit to Baltimore -- at Cardinal Keeler's invitation was one of the prelate's proudest moments. St. John Paul II celebrated Mass at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, visited the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, shared a meal at Our Daily Bread and encouraged seminarians at St. Mary's Seminary in Roland Park. A prodigious fundraiser, Cardinal Keeler established what is now known as the Archbishop's Annual Appeal. In 1997, he launched a major capital campaign known as Heritage of Hope that raised more than $137 million from more than 39,000 gifts and pledges. The cardinal also established the Partners in Excellence program, which provides tuition scholarships for children in inner-city Catholic schools. Since its inception in 1996, Partners in Excellence has provided more than $26 million in tuition assistance. One of the cardinal's last major efforts was the $32 million campaign to restore the basilica. After more than two years of construction, the building was rededicated Nov. 4, 2006 -- 200 years after the basilica's cornerstone was laid. More than 240 bishops from across the nation were there for the celebration, marking the first time all the country's bishops gathered in the basilica since 1989 when the archdiocese marked its bicentennial. Father Michael White, pastor of the Church of the Nativity in Timonium and Cardinal Keeler's first priest-secretary in Baltimore, said Cardinal Keeler "put Baltimore on the map in the Catholic Church." Father White noted that in addition to the papal visit, Cardinal Keeler hosted spiritual gatherings in Baltimore in the late 1990s with St. Teresa of Kolkata and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Leaders within the Catholic Church and from other faith traditions regularly visited him in Baltimore and "not a day went by" when bishops from other parts of the country didn't call for the cardinal's advice, Father White said. Cardinal Keeler suffered serious health problems in the latter years of his ministry. He underwent knee replacement surgery in 2005 and had to have brain surgery in 2006 following a car accident in Italy that resulted in the death of a friend, Father Bernard Quinn of Harrisburg. In the early part of his retirement, Cardinal Keeler remained focused on many of the same priorities he had always held: promoting better relations between the Catholic and Jewish communities, celebrating Mass every day and staying in touch with friends. In his final years, one of the U.S. church's great communicators was frustrated by finding it difficult to find the words to express himself. "His final years of illness were lived in silent, Christ-like dignity and acceptance to the will of God," said Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien, Cardinal Keeler's immediate successor in Baltimore, who is grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. Referring to Cardinal Keeler's accomplishments as "monumental," Cardinal O'Brien added that he prays that the cardinal "enjoy a joyful, eternal rest in the Lord he served so generously." - - - Matysek is assistant managing editor of the Catholic Review, the news website and magazine of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.- - -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/Tyler OrsburnBy Barb FrazeWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The railroad runs more than 550 miles through 27 communities in the Brazilian Amazon. It runs so close to people's homes that the houses have cracked, and some people have hearing loss. The trains carry minerals out of the rainforest to the coast. But the tracks separate families from their schools, health centers and fields and, sometimes, the trains stop on the tracks. Sister Jakelyn Vasquez, a member of the Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus who works with communities along the tracks in Maranhao and Para states, said the trains often sit for hours, sometimes an entire day. In early March, a 336-car train stopped on the tracks in one of the villages. Sister Vasquez told Catholic News Service that the closest ramp to cross over the tracks was more than four miles away. So, as local residents sometimes do, a mother and her baby climbed under the train to cross -- and the train began to move. The mother lost her fingers; the baby lost an arm. It was not the first such accident, said Sister Vasquez. Many people have been run over by the train, she said, and they receive no financial compensation from the multinational company than runs the trains and mines -- "just the coffin." Sister Vasquez was one of about a dozen members of the Pan-Amazonian Church Network that visited Washington in March. The group, which included indigenous leaders who testified before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, also met with church and government leaders and the public to help spread the word about what members describe as injustices and human rights abuses. Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, president of the Pan-Amazonian Church Network, or REPAM, as it is known by its Spanish acronym, told CNS that the Amazon "is at the center of the many ecological issues that are debated in our time, and climate change is one of them." The cardinal said that Pope Francis' 2015 encyclical, "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," made it clear that the church "must participate in the defense of the Amazon." "It is the poor who are going to be the most affected by climate and environmental problems," he added. The cardinal told an audience at The Catholic University of America March 23 that when Pope Francis met with the Brazilian bishops in 2013, the pope emphasized that the Amazon was at "a decisive moment for the future." "And that's why the church can't get it wrong in the Amazon," Cardinal Hummes said. Although some people are looking to exploit the Amazon, others are looking to protect it. "It's one of the great lungs of the planet," he said, noting that indigenous people and small-scale farmers who have been living in the region have the wisdom to help keep the planet breathing. The church in the Amazon must "be very prophetic and very brave," which means denouncing bad projects and finding ways for sustainable development, he said. Part of that means teaching communities to stand for themselves. Mauricio Lopez, executive secretary of the Pan-Amazonian Church Network, said the organization has had workshops and seminars in which "Laudato Si'" was presented. He emphasized that the church is not looking to solve the problems for local communities, but to accompany them. At one public meeting in Washington, indigenous community leaders from Colombia and Peru cited constitutions, peace agreements and international documents to illustrate government violations of their rights. Rosildo da Silva, Chauwandawa leader from Brazil, said the government is always changing the laws and promising small-scale farmers that things will get better. "This is a joke," he said at a March 21 forum. "We cannot trust them," because with one hand they offer something, but the other hand does something different. Marco Martinez Quintana, who works with family farmers in southeastern Colombia, said one day a man showed up with papers from the National Agency of Land and claimed he had permission to use about 20 families' land to produce palm oil. Already, he said, thousands of hectares in the region have been committed to palm oil. These small farmers, on the edge of the Amazon, use a process he described as "the edible forest." "It's kind of a supermarket in the jungle," he said. The farmers plant diverse crops that produce food. Once they have fed their cattle, they trade with farmers who do not have room to grow animal feed. The process builds community, he said. He also spoke of a Colombian government decree signed with the U.S. government that says the local farmers cannot use their own seeds, but must purchase genetically modified seeds -- and all the chemicals that go along with them. "Sovereignty is when we are able to sow our own seeds and grow our own food," he said. Cardinal Hummes said he understands the need for the country to grow economically, but he added that agribusiness has had a serious impact on the environment. For instance, new highways allow for goods to be moved and sold, but if they are overused, they can lead to destruction of the forest. He also said there is a public perception that the rainforest does not produce anything, that "in order to produce and be productive, you need to remove the forest." The challenge "is to demonstrate that the forest as it is, the trees as they are -- the forest, the water, the biodiversity, can offer more ... wealth than the forest that is taken out," or mined and farmed on a large scale, he said.- - -Follow Fraze on Twitter: @BFraze.- - -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/Bob RollerBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace met with the country's top diplomat, Rex Tillerson, March 23, for a policy-packed 35-minute conversation about immigration, the Middle East, Africa and the role of the Catholic Church's efforts toward building "the common good." "After some small talk about Texas," the two spoke about the Middle East, about Iraq and Syria, reaching out to Central America and Mexico, and the situation in Africa, said Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, explaining his initial meeting in Washington with Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state, who, like Bishop Cantu, hails from Texas. Bishop Cantu said the meeting was about letting Tillerson know "that our only motive is to help build the common good, that we don't have ulterior motives," and explaining the bishops' peace and justice committee's work in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Far East. Bishop Cantu, as the chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, has spoken for a two-state solution in the Israel-Palestine conflict, against the construction of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, for reducing the United States' nuclear arsenal, and raised concerns about an executive order that targets refugees from some countries with predominantly Muslim populations, which are at odds with stances taken early by the Donald Trump administration. "I have concerns," he said in an interview with Catholic News Service, but said the meeting with Tillerson was about establishing a relationship that can help the church advocate for policy issues to help the common good. "We bring a unique perspective," said Bishop Cantu. "One of our principles in Catholic social teaching is the common good and that goes beyond our own church needs." Bishop Cantu said he talked about the church's efforts in Congo and South Sudan and the need for stability in such places. U.N. agencies said in February that famine and war in the area are threatening up to 5.5 million lives in the region. Because of the church's humanitarian agencies, its solidarity visits, and long-term contact with local governments and populations around the world, the church lends a credible voice, Bishop Cantu said. "He expressed that he was eager to have open lines of communication with us and to listen to our perspective on things," Bishop Cantu said. "The two areas we especially touched on were the Middle East and how to rebuild in Iraq and Syria. And the second topic that he wanted to hear our perspective on is the immigration issue, particularly how to reach out to Central America and Mexico," said Bishop Cantu. He said he emphasized to Tillerson the importance of having countries where religious minorities have a say in the government and of investing in rebuilding countries. The proposed Trump administration budget has been criticized for its plans to slash funding for the State Department up to 28 percent, or $10.9 billion. The cuts would greatly affect the department's Food for Peace Program, which reduces hunger and malnutrition in poor countries, while proposing a $54 billion, or 10 percent, increase in military spending. Bishop Cantu said he left information with Tillerson about the church's concerns with the proposed budget. "We're concerned about the very steep increase in the military budget, the cutting back on foreign aid, we're very concerned about that. I did want to emphasize how important development is in regions that need to be stabilized," he said, "that those are wise investments of time and funds." The meeting also included a discussion about Christians in the Middle East, Bishop Cantu said, "and that Christians don't want to live in a ghetto. ' They believe it's important that they live in an integrated society that is safe and secure," to have a voice in local, regional as well federal government. He said he also emphasized "the fact that the (Catholic) church in the Middle East can act as a voice between the Sunnis and the Shia" and the importance of the church remaining in places such as Iraq and Syria. "Any wise government official wants to listen to the voice of people who have a stake in different areas and to listen to the wisdom of experience," Bishop Cantu said. "We have our brothers and sisters there, the church, who do live there. The fact is that ' we bring a trusted voice."We bring some wisdom to the conversation," he added. "Our vision is to build a society that's stable, that's just, that's peaceful, and ultimately, that's the goal of the state department ... and so I think that's why our voice is valuable to them."- - -Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.  - - -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 EstevesROME (CNS) -- While documentation regarding an alleged miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Oscar Romero is being studied at the Vatican, there is no date scheduled for his canonization, the archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, said. "I must say, in all sincerity, that there is no date. And we understand it well because it involves a process. Blessed Romero's cause is at a decisive phase that is necessary for his canonization," Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas said March 23 during a memorial Mass for Blessed Romero in Rome. Archbishop Escobar, along with the other bishops of El Salvador were making their "ad limina" visits to Rome and the Vatican and anticipated the 37th anniversary of Blessed Romero's death with Mass at Rome's Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. Blessed Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, was assassinated in 1980 while celebrating Mass in the chapel of a local hospital one day after calling on the government to end its violation of human rights against the population. During the nearly two hours Pope Francis spent with the bishops of El Salvador March 20, the pontiff expressed "his warmth and affection" for Blessed Romero, Archbishop Escobar told Catholic News Service after the Mass. "He told us that it would be very good if the places associated with Romero -- his relics, the place where he was killed and where he was born -- would become places of pilgrimage," the archbishop said. During his homily, Archbishop Escobar thanked Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life and the official promoter of Blessed Romero's sainthood cause, for his work throughout canonical process. The alleged miracle involves a pregnant woman in El Salvador who was in in danger of dying, Archbishop Paglia told CNS. "Several friends of this family prayed to Blessed Oscar Romero. And in a short time, the baby was born and the mother is well." Archbishop Paglia also told CNS that officials at the Congregation for Saints' Causes had opened the documentation concerning the alleged miracle and would begin studying it March 24. The congregation's work, he added, is a delicate process, which involves looking at the alleged miracle from both a "medical and theological perspective." "I hope that as soon as possible the results can be given. We cannot say how long it will take," he said. "If the results are positive, it will be presented to the pope and he will decide on the canonization and the date." - - -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/Toby Melville, ReutersBy LONDON (CNS) -- Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, whose cathedral is just a short walk from the scene of the London terrorist attack, called for prayers for the dead and wounded. "Yesterday's attacks in Westminster have shocked us all," he said in a March 23 statement. "The kind of violence we have seen all too often in other places has again brought horror and killing to this city." The five fatalities included Aysha Frade, a 43-year-old Catholic mother mowed down by a car driven by the assailant as he sped over Westminster Bridge toward the British Parliament. Frade was on her way to pick up her children from school when she was killed. After crashing the vehicle into railings, the British-born Muslim ran into New Palace Yard, near Parliament, where he fatally stabbed a police officer before he was killed by police. About 40 people were injured in the attack. "Pray for Aysha Frade, killed by the car on Westminster Bridge," Cardinal Nichols said, adding that her two children attended St. Mary of the Angels Primary School, a Catholic school in West London. "Pray for them and for their father. And please remember the young French students who have been injured. "We remember, too, all who have been injured, and those who care for them," the cardinal continued. "We pray in particular as well for Keith Palmer, the police officer who died, and for his family, thanking God that so many show such brave dedication to keeping our society safe." The cardinal urged people to make their voices become "one of prayer, of compassionate solidarity, and of calm," he said. "All who believe in God, creator and father of every person, will echo this voice, for faith in God is not a problem to be solved, but a strength and a foundation on which depend." Pope Francis sent a message to Cardinal Nichols March 23, assuring the president of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales of his prayer for the nation. Communicated via Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, the message said: "Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and of the injuries caused by the attack in central London, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his prayerful solidarity with all those affected by this tragedy. "Commending those who have died to the loving mercy of almighty God, His Holiness invokes divine strength and peace upon their grieving families, and he assures the nation of his prayers at this time," it said. According to reports in the British media, the "lone wolf" assailant was not on a security services list of about 3,000 people thought capable of mounting an attack, but was described by Prime Minister Theresa May as a "peripheral figure." He was named as Khalid Masood, 52, a petty criminal from the Birmingham area of the English Midlands. The Islamic State group issued a statement March 23 describing the attacker as a "soldier" who had answered its call to attack "coalition countries."- - -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.