NEWS.COM.AU REPORT: THREATS of terror attacks on at least four Australian churches prompted police to protect thousands of Coptic Christians during their Christmas Eve services.
Police yesterday surrounded the Coptic Orthodox churches in Sydney after a bomb blast killed 21 people during a New Year's Eve Coptic church service in Alexandria, Egypt.
Coptic Churches around the world are also on high alert as their Christmas Eve services are scheduled for tomorrow.
On Thursday night in Sydney, bomb searches and police helicopters were part of the security measures that soured Christmas Eve celebrations.
Some church officials are worried that an attack may eventuate when least expected on any on of their churches, monasteries or schools in Australia.
A police detail searched St Antonious and St Paul parish in Guildford, in Sydney's west, yesterday afternoon prior to its 7pm Christmas Eve services, a church official told AAP.
During the service, teams of officers surrounded the area while helicopters with spotlights searched the local suburb.Up to 700 parishioners were estimated to be in attendance.
"There were threats to our church - three or four churches in the (Sydney) Coptic church," said the man who asked not to be identified.
He said NSW Police contacted the church this week to say the Guildford site and three others in Sydney had been the target of a terrorist threat.
Archangel and St Bishoy at Mt Druitt, in Sydney's west, St Demiana and St Athanasius at Punchbowl, in Sydney's southwest and St Mary and St Merkorious, at Rhodes, were understood to be on the threat list.
A woman witnessed a police operation in her neighbourhood at Arncliffe, where St Mark Coptic Church is located in Sydney's south.
"The police helicopter is sweeping the suburb with this massive spotlight," the woman told AAP.
All of the churches cancelled their traditional dinners that would normally happen after Christmas Eve services.
The spokesman said yesterday's threat, which resulted in no reported incidents, could have been a diversion.
"They want you to focus on the area that they're not going to be touching," he said.
"And even though the threat was for Christmas Eve, they might do it on a normal Sunday. That's how they work."
Police issued a statement to AAP following yesterday's operations.
"The NSW Police Force is closely monitoring international developments in the wake of the attack on the Coptic community in Egypt," the statement read.
"Police have met with local Coptic leaders and are currently working with them to allay any fears within that community."
Peter Mikhail attended the Guildford service and said the threats soured the service and have put fear into the congregation.
"It was not a nice way to be celebrating Christmas here in a country where you're supposed to be safe," Mr Mikhail told AAP.
He said the traditionally long mass but had to be cut short at police request and people were dispersed immediately.
"We went to church today feeling quite apprehensive thinking 'oh my God' what if something does take place," Mr Mikhail said.
"I'm worried about my wife, I'm worried about my kids."
Read more: http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/terror-threat-on-australian-churches/story-e6frfku0-1225983355994#ixzz1AHlaT4e0
CNA REPORT: The president of the Spanish soccer association, Angel Maria Villar, and the coach of Spain’s national team, Vicente del Bosque, dedicated the country's World Cup trophy to St. James the Apostle on Dec. 27.
The Spanish soccer team won the World Cup in South Africa in July 2010.
Villa spoke at the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago de Compostela and referred to the Spanish soccer team's devotion to the apostle. He recalled that during his last visit to the cathedral in April 2010 he prayed for the success of the team at the World Cup.
“We asked a lot from you, but we trusted that you would hear our prayers. And you did. We are here today with the World Cup in our hands to dedicate it to you, St. James, because you helped us to become world champions,” Villa said.
“We have come here as victors of the World Cup, traveling down different roads from the ones you crossed on your way to Galicia ... Our paths have been different and we have traveled them in faraway lands, 12 hours and thousands of miles away by plane, in South Africa, a land our soccer team barely knew, and yet a land in which our soccer team experienced its greatest glory,” Villa said.
He noted that the 2010 victory was an achievement the country had only dreamed of since 1934. “We had won many other tournaments – almost all of them. We had triumphed in the greatest of soccer matches but not in the World Cup,” he added.
“We put everything we had into it, every human and technological resource at our disposal, as well as an unbeatable group of players, a truly golden generation. We tied up every lose end, and we prayed to you for victory. It was very difficult. We faced great rivals. But we had faith in you, St. James, and in the quality of our players and their coaches.”
On July 11, he continued, “all of our dreams came true. Millions of fans came to watch inspired by a fantastic group of players. We made our way through the World Cup, in suffering and in joy, but always with faith and hope and convinced that in the end, the victory could be ours. And it was.”
For this reason, the players have returned with the trophy they won “through great effort and brilliance,” he continued. “We won it by following the paths you showed us 2,000 years ago. These paths are none other than those of humility, kindness, generosity, solidarity, patience, temperance, faith and hope in what we are doing. Thus we traveled to South Africa and thus we return home to you, in Santiago de Compostela,” Villa concluded.
UCAN REPORT- Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun is inviting Catholics in Hong Kong to a seven-hour prayer gathering to repent and do penance for recent Church “failures” in mainland China.
|Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun|
Those participants who acted against communion with the Pope did so because they have forgotten the nature of the Church and did not respect Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to Chinese Catholics, he said.
“These tragedies were beyond our control. Though we knew things would happen, we did not expect total calamity,” he said.
Hoping the Hong Kong faithful can repent and do penance for what happened, he explained that “we are in the same mystery of Christ. Our brothers fell because we did not pray hard enough and give sufficient support to them. So we should share the failure.”
The gathering to be held on Jan. 14 at the Mary Help of Christians Church will feature adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, reflections, prayers and a Mass.
The organizing committee suggests participants bring water and bread for a penance supper.
Through prayers and penance, Cardinal Zen hopes God will help Chinese Catholics follow their conscience and to share the difficulties and pain of the Church in China.
CBN REPORT; Ohio may have stumbled across the next new voice of America -- a homeless man's golden voice discovered while living on the streets.
Ted Williams became an overnight sensation after a video of him talking like a broadcaster was posted on YouTube.
A Columbus Dispatch reporter discovered Williams as he stood on the side of the road using his incredible voice to collect money on the street.
The video reached more than 4 million views in 24 hours. Now, media outlets across the country are fighting to hire Williams.
Williams said he's been in radio before but fell on hard times after years of alcohol and drug abuse.
He told the CBS "Early Show" that he believes God spared his voice in order to give him a second chance at life.
Williams has been offered a full-time job and a mortgage on a home by Quicken Loans Arena and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
IMAGE SOURCE: CNN.COM
ALL AFRICA REPORT: The Catholic Diocese of Banjul, The Gambia will be hosting the Administration Council of the Pope John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, observers from the Italian and German Catholic Bishops' Conferences, and the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" in Rome, Italy, from 7 to 14 February, 2011, a press release signed by Bishop Robert P. Ellison of Banjul reveals.
Below is the full text of the release:
Up to the end of February 2009, over 100 projects have been approved by the JPII Foundation in The Gambia. During the past twenty-five years, the total amount The Gambia has benefited from the Foundation amounts to one million Euros, equivalent to D32, 000, 000.00 (thirty two million dalasis). A local planning committee has already been designated to start work on the preparations for this important conference. The conference is ours to host and we hope to accomplish this challenge in a way that will do justice to the reputation of The Gambia as a place of welcome, hospitality and competence.The Pope John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel is an organisation of the Catholic Church that was created on February 22, 1984 by the late Pope John Paul II to provide support for the Sahelians affected by drought conditions regardless of race and religion, on the basis of projects submitted according to specific criteria and selected by the Foundation's Projects Committee.
Yours sincerely,Bishop Robert PEllison CSSp Bishop of Banjul
Epiphany of the Lord
Feast: January 6
Saint André Bessette, CSC (French: Frère André; August 9, 1845 – January 6, 1937), born Alfred Bessette and since his canonisation sometimes known asSaint André of Montreal, was a Holy Cross Brother and a significant figure of theRoman Catholic Church amongFrench-Canadians, credited with thousands of reported miraculoushealings. He was declared venerable in 1978 and was beatified in 1982. Pope Benedict XVI approved sainthood for Blessed André on February 19, 2010, with the formal canonization taking place on October 17, 2010. 
Alfred Bessette was born in Mont-Saint-Grégoire, Quebec (then Canada East), a small town situated 40 kilometers south-east of Montreal. He was so frail when he was born that the curé baptized him on an emergency basis and then conditionally the following day. He was from a working class family; his father, Isaac Bessette, was a carpenter and lumberman and his mother, Clothilde Foisy Bessette, saw to the education of her ten children (two others died in infancy). In 1849, with employment scarce and his family living in poverty, Alfred's father decided to move to Farnham (in Quebec) where he hoped to earn a living as a lumberman. Tragically, he lost his life in an accident, crushed by a falling tree, when Alfred was only nine years old. His mother found herself widowed at the age of forty with ten children in her care. She died of tuberculosis within three years, and Alfred found himself orphaned at the age of twelve. Later Brother André would say, "I rarely prayed for my mother, but I often prayed to her." He was sent to live with his mother's sister, Rosalie Nadeau, and her husband Timothée, who attempted to establish Alfred in various trades, but the boy's fragile health (which would afflict him throughout his life) made sustained manual labor difficult. Since he obviously did not have a trade, Alfred began a thirteen-year odyssey wandering from job to job with few belongings and little education. He was barely able to write his name or to read his prayer book.At various times he worked as a tinsmith, blacksmith, baker, shoemaker and wagon driver.
From his earliest days, Alfred exhibited an unusually intense spirituality.He would often spend his scant free time praying before a crucifix or evangelizing his friends, and his many self-imposed penances drew the admiring rebuke of his gentle aunt, who was concerned that the boy was endangering his already poor health.
When he was 20 years old, Alfred joined many Canadians who were emigrating to the United States to work in a textile mill of New England, then operating at full output to supply the needs of the Union army in the American Civil War. Though his health was not robust, he worked doggedly. "Despite my limitations," he said, "There was no one who worked harder than me."hen the Canadian federation was formed in 1867, he returned to his native country.