CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: TUES. APRIL 26, 2011: HEADLINES-
Bishop Peter Li Hongye of Luoyang died shortly after suffering a heart attack while presiding over the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, April 23.
“The heart attack came suddenly when Bishop Li was blessing the holy water for baptism. The ambulance corps refused to rush him to hospital as they assessed the unconscious old man could not be saved,” a Church source said.The 91-year-old “underground” prelate who was not recognized by the government passed away at 10:30 pm, after he received sacrament of the anointing of the sick.
His funeral is scheduled for April 29 at his hometown Gong county, about 50 kilometers east of Luoyang.
Though government officials are discouraging Catholics from attending the funeral, Church sources expect the security would not be as tight as in funerals of underground bishops in northern China.
According to the diocese’s obituary, Bishop Li was born into a Catholic family in 1920 and entered the seminary at the age of 17. After being ordained a priest in 1944, he served in a parish until he was arrested because of his faith in 1955.
Upon his release in 1985, he returned to work in the diocese. He was consecrated secretly as the Bishop of Luoyang two years later. He was detained in 2001 and placed under house arrest at the Mother of God church in downtown Luoyang until he suffered from heart disease in 2004, after which he returned to his home town to convalesce.
Due to a lack of clergy, financial support and religious venues, Luoyang is one of the least developed dioceses in China. It currently has about 10,000 Catholics, served by 18 underground and one “open” priests.
Most churches were not returned to the Church or were demolished due to city redevelopment. The Mother of Christ church, which was rebuilt in 2005, is the only religious venue of the “open” community in the diocese. Underground Catholics usually attend Mass at home.
Luoyang in central Henan province was one of the four ancient capitals of China. Thirteen dynasties made the city as their capitals. Italian missionaries set up a mission point at Luoyang in 1908. The Holy See erected the area as prefecture apostolic in 1929 and elevated it into a diocese in 1946.
LifeSiteNews.com REPORT – In August of last year Jessica Council – a beautiful, 30-year-old mother of one – noticed that she had a sore throat. At around the same time, she also began to suspect that she was pregnant.
When after two weeks the sore throat had not gone away, Jessica decided to have it checked out. Her doctor told her that it was probably a thyroid goiter, and ultimately nothing to be too concerned about. Just to be sure, however, he had a test done, which he said confirmed his initial suspicions. Everything would be ok, he said.
But everything was not ok. The doctor had misread the test.
Around November 15th, Jessica began having trouble breathing. On November 21st she landed in the emergency room. Then, on November 22nd, her throat closed up so tightly that she could not breathe, at which point doctors managed to insert a tube down her throat, and put her on a ventilator.
The following day, November 23rd, Jessica was informed that she had cancer. By then, she also knew for certain that she was with child.
Thus began a journey that would put the faith and pro-life convictions of Jessica and her husband, Clint, to the ultimate test.
“It was worth every day”
Jessica and Clint met at Greenville College School. In a lengthy interview with LifeSiteNews.com, Clint said that he had spotted the gorgeous redhead sitting one day in the university dining hall, and asked if he could join her. She refused. But Clint didn’t give up.
(Read the complete interview with Clint here)
In fact, it took Clint a year and a half of pestering before Jessica agreed to go on a date; the couple married two and a half years after that. “I guess when you know you know,” he said. “I had to work really hard for her, but it was worth every day.”
The pair moved to Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina, where they had a son and worked at a Christian charity as youth mentors. Life was good: they were young, in love, healthy, and enjoying life.
Clint points out that his wife always took meticulous care of herself. “She’s always been extremely, extremely healthy,” he said. “Watched what she ate very carefully. Tried to honor God with her body. Exercised regularly.”
For this reason, the last thing either of them expected was the cancer that struck last August.
No more options
Clint describes his wife’s reaction to the news of the cancer in her throat as “a mixture of fear and surprise.” As for himself, he says he felt “just every emotion you can think of … except for joy. I was a basket case.”
But, of course, Jessica wasn’t the only one threatened by the cancer: she was pregnant, and any treatments she underwent would almost certainly harm, and possibly even kill her unborn child.
On November 25th, the hospital’s OB/GYN offered the couple an abortion. Clint says Jessica never hesitated. “That was never an option,” he said. “That is black and white.”
But what was less black and white was whether or not to accept treatments: while the oncologist said chemotherapy would likely kill the baby, the OB/GYN disagreed, saying the baby would probably survive, but suffer brain damage.
“Jessica looked at me, and it took her a few seconds,” says Clint, “and she shook her head ‘no.’” She also refused radiation therapy because of its similar risks.
“We really didn’t have a lot of treatment options after that,” said Clint, pointing out that surgery was never an option because of where the cancer was.
“She did not wake up”
The treatment question came up again when the baby reached the third trimester. At that point, says Clint, the decision was much more difficult, with the doctors claiming that the risks were minimal because the baby was almost fully developed.
However, Jessica still refused the treatments for the sake of her unborn child – a decision that Clint says left her doctors “very confused.”
Clint confides that neither he nor his wife felt doctors were being completely straightforward about the risks. But he also says that his wife had another reason for refusing the treatments.
“She knew she was going to die anyway,” he says. “She didn’t share that with me until almost when she died. ... But I think she knew, and she was thinking she was going to give this baby every chance she could.”
Although the couple found some success with alternative methods to stem the cancer’s growth, including a strict diet of organic vegetable juices and supplements, without more aggressive treatments it was only a matter of time before the cancer got the upper hand.
A 23-week miracle
On the night of February 5, Jessica went to sleep with a headache and nausea. “She did not wake up,” says Clint.
The following day the hospital declared Jessica brain dead, and Clint gave the doctors the go-ahead to deliver by C-section. On February 6, little “Jessi” was born, weighing only 1 lb 3 oz.
Doctors had thought that Jessica was 25 weeks pregnant, but after they delivered the baby they realized that she was likely only about 23 and a half weeks along – the absolute threshold of viability.
“I can only testify to God’s grace on that, because Jessica died right when the baby was viable for life outside the womb,” says Clint. Doctors say baby Jessi is doing well.
Clint describes the whole experience as “emotionally brutal,” and admits that despite his firm Christian and pro-life convictions, it was the farthest thing from easy to take the path that he and his wife did.
“Yes, I did struggle,” he says, “because in the Bible the one person that we’re commanded to love more than myself, this was her. I did struggle.”
“Sometimes it’s easier to be selfless as far as whatever happens to you,” he points out, “but when it comes down to losing the one you love more than anything else, it’s very difficult.”
It was also difficult for their two-and-a-half-year-old son. Clint recounts that after Jessica went into the hospital, his son was unable to see her for about a month, and during that time he wouldn’t even look at or speak to his father. But after he got to visit his mother, “he started doing better,” says Clint.
After Jessica’s death the boy suffered a period of acute “separation anxiety,” although his father says he has begun to adjust.
As for Clint himself, barely two months after his wife’s death, he says that he is operating on autopilot, staying busy with work and caring for his two children.
At this point he pauses. “I’m going to be very open,” he says, remarking that he wants to do whatever he can to help others who might be in a similar situation. “For about the first month, I could not - and I mean that as in a literal inability - I could not read my Bible, I could not pray.”
He describes the feeling as akin to that of a child being disciplined by a parent: “Even though I knew cognitively that the relationship was there, I knew [God] loved me, I accepted all these things from a mental standpoint. I felt nothing, spiritually.
“And it’s not about the feelings, but the delight in God was completely gone for about a month. I was functioning solely on what I knew to be true from a mental standpoint.”
Now, however, he says he has moved beyond that first stage, and has begun to pray again, including for other people.
Nevertheless, he says there will probably come a time when he will have to drop everything, and properly mourn the loss of his wife.
“God be praised”
Even though the weariness and the suffering is palpable in Clint’s voice, in speaking to him one detects something else as well – a deep resignation born not of despair, but of an authentic, rooted faith that accepts that this suffering was ultimately meaningful, and that there are worse tragedies even than death.
In a note penned less than two weeks after Jessica’s death, and posted to a blog about her struggle with cancer, Clint wrote the last words many would expect to hear from a man who has just lost a young wife whom he dearly loved.
“God is to be praised, my Friends,” he said. “Do not doubt God; do not be angry with Him for me.
“I am privileged to have had a Wife who was so full of the love of the Father. Rejoice with me, Brothers and Sisters. God has blessed Jessica in taking her to place of perfect peace and no pain. I must be thankful for the time that I had with her rather than ungrateful for all the things we never got to do together. We must give thanks in all things for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ.
“Grace and Peace to all.”
- The England and Ireland-based St. Barnabas Society gave over $160,000 to help Anglican priests make the transition into the Catholic Church.
“It is a very generous gesture and one that will be widely appreciated,” Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols said on April 15. “It is a concrete expression of the generosity which the Holy Father asked us to show towards those who are seeking full communion in the Catholic Church.”
About 20 priests and 600 lay people from around England were expected to enter the Church this past weekend. Five former Anglican bishops and their wives were among the first to join the Our Lady of Walsingham Ordinariate, this past Jan. 15.
Many of the priests left behind their former Anglican parishes and salaries in the move and are having to rely on the ordinariate for financial support. On April 15, Our Lady of Walsingham announced that that it had received $160,000 (100,000 pounds) from the St. Barnabas Society.
The organization said it viewed financial assistance to new Catholics as vital, since many will lose not only their jobs but also their homes as well. The money will be distributed among the clergy and religious in response to their individual needs in the period between their reception into the Catholic Church at Easter and their ordination at Pentecost.
The St. Barnabas Society is funded by donations from Catholic congregations, individuals, and estates. Over the year, it has helped other former clergy and religious from a variety of denominations who have become Catholic.
The second stage of his visit, the General Father will attend the Annual Meeting of the Conference of Major Superiors of Jesuits of Africa and Madagascar (JESAM), which will be held from 2 to 6 May in Anatananarivo, in Madagascar. The third, and last stage will consist of the visit to the Province of Madagascar, from 7 to 11 May. The General Father will limit his visit to the capital and surrounding areas, meeting the Jesuits and the Ignatius family, lay collaborators, the Bishop of the city, the three Jesuit bishops. He will also visit the various apostolic works as the novitiate, the philosophate, Saint Michel Collège with its nearly 2,500 students, the Center for Spirituality, the parish and the publishing house (Ambozontany Edition), the most important Catholic publishing house in the country, which also publishes books for schools. Two moments of particular significance: the visit to Bevalala, an important center of agricultural training on the outskirts of the capital, and to Ambiatibe, the reference point of the Northern Vicariate of the Diocese of Antananarivo and the place dedicated to the memory of the Blessed Jacques Berthieu, the French Jesuit who was martyred here in 1896.
MONSIGNOR HUMBLED TO SERVE GOD’S PEOPLE
|Prelate of Honour of His Holiness -Diocese of Parramatta Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, Very Rev Monsignor Robert McGuckin VG EV.|
Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu
Msgr McGuckin officially received the award and the title of ‘Monsignor’ when the Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, made the announcement at the 2011 Chrism Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral on Wednesday 20 April.
The Chrism Mass also saw three long-serving Diocesan priests - Fathers Eric Burton, David Scott and Les Campion - announced as recipients of the Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice 2011.
“I’m humbled by being named by Pope Benedict XVI a Prelate of Honour of His Holiness,” Msgr McGuckin said. “I express my thanks to Bishop Anthony for his confidence in petitioning for such an award.
“In my priesthood I’ve been blessed by working with so many wonderful people in the Chancery, in the Tribunal and throughout the Diocese – people who each day faithfully live out the mission entrusted to them.
“I give thanks to God for being given the opportunity in some small way to serve His people.”
POPE AND MARTYR
Feast: April 26
He succeeded St. Caius in the bishopric of Rome, in 296, about the time that Diocletian set himself up for a deity and impiously claimed divine honours. Theodoret says that in those stormy times of persecution Marcellinus acquired great glory. He sat in St. Peter's chair eight years, three months, and twenty-five days, dying in 304, a year after the cruel persecution broke out, in which he gained much honour. He has been styled a martyr, though his blood was not shed in the cause of religion, as appears from the Liberian Calendar, which places him among those popes that were not put to death for the faith.
It is a fundamental maxim of the Christian morality, and a truth which Christ has established in the clearest terms and in innumerable passages of the gospel, that the cross, or sufferings and mortifications, are the road to eternal bliss. They, therefore, who lead not here a crucified and mortified life are unworthy ever to possess the unspeakable joys of his kingdom. Our Lord himself, our model and our head, walked in this path, and his great apostle puts us in mind that he entered into bliss only by his blood and by the cross. Nevertheless, this is a truth which the world can never understand, how clearly soever it be preached by Christ and recommended by his powerful example and that of his martyrs and of all the saints. Christians still pretend, by the joys and pleasures of this world, to attain to the bliss of heaven, and shudder at the very mention of mortification, penance, or sufferings. So prevalent is this fatal error, which self-love and the example and false maxims of the world strongly fortify in the minds of many, that those who have given themselves to God with the greatest fervour are bound always to stand upon their guard against it, and daily to renew their fervour in the love and practice of penance, and to arm themselves with patience against sufferings, lest the weight of the corruption of our nature, the pleasures of sense, and flattering blandishments of the world, draw them aside and make them leave the path of mortification, or lose courage under its labours, and under the afflictions with which God is pleased to purify them and afford them means of sanctifying themselves.
Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/M/stmarcellinus.asp#ixzz1KeorwhXW