Wednesday, March 20, 2013


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Smith_Richard-2012This Tuesday, March 19, 2013, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we celebrate the formal inauguration of the Petrine ministry of Francis, Servant of the Servants of God. Saint Joseph is both patron of the universal Church, and principal patron of Canada.
On behalf of the Catholic Bishops of our country, I invite each member of our Church and everyone of good will to share in this moment of joy. Let us pray that God support and strengthen our new Pope in his ministry of universal pastor. May he lead, encourage and teach us all to give glory to God, and thus peace and good will to the world.
Pope Francis takes on the role of the Apostle Peter shown to us in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles: helping the disciples recognize Jesus and be a communion of love, strengthening us in the faith, witnessing to Jesus’ resurrection, and continuing Jesus’ ministry of healing and teaching (Mark 8.29,16.7; Matthew 16.18; Luke 22.32; John 20.6; Acts 2.14-49,3.2-10). He now serves, by the grace of God, as our “rock”.
From the outset, Pope Francis has invited us to turn to Mary, Mother of God, for her protection and intercession. This was manifested symbolically the day after his election, when he prayed to Our Lady at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, and left a bouquet of flowers on the altar.
Mary heard God and believed. She received into her very womb the Word made flesh. With Saint Joseph, she welcomed Jesus, and introduced him to the world. She learned from Jesus, and kept faith with him to the last. From the Cross, Jesus made Mary our mother in faith, and we her sons and daughters (John 19.26-27). With Mary, we introduce Jesus to our world, and are called to imitate Mary’s steadfast fidelity to our Lord, even in moments of betrayal, ignorance and suffering, so as to be effective witnesses to God’s life-giving glory.
With gratitude to God, let us welcome Pope Francis as he leads the Church into a new stage along the journey of evangelization and encounter. Just a few days ago, he told the Cardinals, “Do not give in to pessimism and discouragement…. [T]he Holy Spirit gives the Church… the courage to persevere and also to seek new methods of evangelization, to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The Christian truth is attractive and persuasive because it responds to the deep needs of human existence, convincingly announcing that Christ is the only Saviour of the whole person and of all persons.”
Together, with Pope Francis, let us move forward into the future, following the way of Christ, filled with the faith, hope and love we share with Mary, journeying to the Father, emboldened, inspired and united in the Holy Spirit.
+ Richard SmithArchbishop of Edmonton and
President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
18 March 2013


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT - SHARE
20 Mar 2013

Faith, prayers, music and the arts celebrated by young pilgrims at Gracefest 2012
More than 700 young people from parishes, universities and schools across Sydney will gather to celebrate Gracefest at St Mary's Cathedral Hall this Saturday for an evening of music, prayer and reflection.
Gracefest 2013 brings youth together in an outpouring of faith and joy and also offers those present the unique chance to hear a first-hand account by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell of the momentous events of the past week when Pope Francis was elected and installed as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
His Eminence, who returns to Sydney from Rome on Friday, less than 24 hours before the start of Gracefest, will deliver the main presentation and will also talk informally with participants at the festival over dinner.
A fiesta dinner with a South American theme will kick off Gracefest. Prepared by the Knights of the Southern Cross, the menu of mouth-watering Latin American dishes was planned as a celebration of World Youth Day in Rio later this year.
"Now with a new Pope and the first-ever to come from Latin America, Saturday night's Latin American feast will have even more meaning," says Bernard Toutounji, Director of Catholic Youth Services (CYS).
The first Gracefest was held in July last year in the open air courtyard of the University of Notre Dame and attracted a huge crowd of young people on the final night of SCENE (the Sydney Congress Embracing the New Evangelism).
"Gracefest was one of the highlights of SCENE and so popular we want to make it an annual event," says Jake Ryan, the organiser of this year's as well as last year's festival.

Jake Ryan is not only organiser of Gracefest but vocalist for the Grace Band
The Archdiocese of Sydney's Project and Events Officer for the Year of Grace and a member of the Sydney WYD2013 in Rio Committee, Jake took the decision to organise Gracefest as a celebration of prayer, music and the arts in a bid to capture the mood, emotion and inspiration he experienced along with 140,000 other pilgrims during Barangaroo's "Receive the Power: Live" event during WYD08.
Although Gracefest is on a much smaller scale he says last year's festival triggered the same feelings of joy and those who attended came away enriched, inspired and filled with joy.
This Saturday's Gracefest has been designed to be equally fulfilling, enriching and inspiring.
Held at St Mary's Cathedral Hall which can accommodate more people than the relatively small courtyard at the University of Notre Dame's city campus, the festival organisers will also be free of worry no matter whatever the weather.
The program begins with the Latin American fiesta dinner. Not only is the meal free to participants but will provide an informal atmosphere for people to meet one another and to mingle and chat with Cardinal Pell as well as the Archdiocese's well known auxiliary bishops, Bishop Julian Porteous, Bishop Peter Comensoli and Bishop Terry Brady.
The evening then gets underway with a program of prayer, reflection, the showing of videos on WYD Rio together with a testimony by Alfio Stuto, best known as the actor who played Christ in the live performance of Stations of the Cross during WYD in Sydney.
This will be followed by a short introductory address from Bernard Toutounji about CYS, plans for the up coming year and to introduce six members of the National Evangelisation Team who will be based in the Archdiocese for the remainder of the year, visiting schools, speaking about faith formation, running encounter groups and engaging with youth ministries and other Catholic youth groups.
At 8.15 pm, Cardinal Pell will deliver his homily which will be followed by Adoration with the opening prayers led by Bishop Porteous who will also lead the Benediction towards the end of the evening.

prayer and reflection at last year's Gracefest
Music will be a big feature throughout the evening with the Grace Band which was such a hit Gracefest in July 2012, reforming specially for the event.
"Music is a universal language and speaks directly to the heart. Everyone no matter what language they speak or what their culture might be, responds to music and for those of faith, music brings us closer to God," Jake says.
Jake has not only organised Saturday night's Gracefest but he will also be one of the event's leading performers.
The Grace Band with its six musicians and 21-year-old Jake on vocals will perform the much loved music of Canada's internationally-acclaimed Catholic songwriter-composer, Matt Maher and other contemporary works. Originally trained as a classical pianist and on leaving school Jake was offered a scholarship to study at the Conservatorium of Music. Despite his love of music, the former student of St Mary's Cathedral College decided at the last moment not to take up this rare honour and instead chose to devote his life to the Church. But music remains a passion whether classical, rock, r & b, blue grass or pop.
Gracefest begins at 6.30 pm at St Mary's Cathedral Hall on Saturday, 23 March. All are welcome. For more information see


Catholic Youth Ministry Federation National Congress | Catholic Youth Ministry Federation, National Congress to the North East, CYMfed’s short history.
At the end of an exciting week in the Church, following the election of Pope Francis, the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation brought its Congress to the North East for the first time. The Sage, one of the region’s most iconic landmarks, was the setting for the third CYMfed National Congress. 650 young people, youth ministers, teachers, chaplains, clergy, consecrated religious and parishioners from all over the country gathered to gain inspiration and support for their own ministry with young people. The programme included inspiring liturgies with music by young volunteers well worthy of the famed Sage acoustics.
Started in 2009, and based on inspiration from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry in the USA, CYMFed has seen great success including, three congresses for Youth Ministers, along with organising ‘The Flame’ Congress in 2012 which gathered over 8000 young people in Wembley Arena for a day of prayer, reflection and celebration. The National Youth Symbol, a key feature of the liturgies at the Congress, was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI at the CYMFed led events for the papal visit in Westminster Cathedral and Hyde Park. The launch of two publications, ‘Mapping the Terrain’ and ‘Called to a Noble Adventure’ has been another part of CYMFed’s work and this was added to last Saturday with the launch of its latest publication ‘The Story’. This book, a reflection on the four pillars of the Catechism and containing faith stories of young people from across England and Wales, has been put together as a celebration of the Year of Faith.

The Congress was a great celebration of faith by inspirational speakers from different generations. Bishop Luc van Looy, the Bishop of Ghent, reminded us of the need for a culture of scripture and the huge power of symbolic acts in our lives. He affirmed the power of stories and reflected upon the number of messages shown through parables and the influence of the Father in all our faith stories. Bishop Luc spoke of the importance of letting young people know that they are loved; rather than being something which can be taught, “Education is a question of the heart”.

Christopher Pilkington, an Executive Producer for Youth Programming for Endemol and an active volunteer with young people in his own church, inspired everyone to use the art of story as Jesus did and gave an insight into how television programmes ‘hook you in’ with the power of the story. He reminded us of how Jesus’ teaching draws us in: “If you know the resolution, what is the point of engaging?”

Throughout the day there was the opportunity to hear the faith stories of two young people, part of CYMFed’s latest publication, ‘The Story’, which features the faith stories of 53 young people.

Those working at every level within youth ministry felt encouraged and equipped to return home to inspire and affirm the young people with whom they work. Fr Dermott Donnelly, Chair of CYMFed said, “We gathered in a most beautiful venue as people of faith, to share it and celebrate it. It was a truly inspirational day hearing people of all ages and ministries in the church witness and encourage one another”.


A Khan al-Assal, in the province of Aleppo, 25 people die and 110 in serious condition from gas asphyxiation. Regime and rebels exchange blame over possession and use of chemical weapons. For the UN Secretary General "an outrageous crime."

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Bashar Al-Assad regime and the rebels accuse each other of using chemical weapons on Khan al-Assal in provincial Aleppo, where yesterday a "dense smoke" killed 25 people and left 110 wounded, most of them with the principles of asphyxiation. Bashar Jaafari, the Syrian ambassador to the UN accuses "terrorist groups" of firing a rocket load of chemicals. Ghassan Hitto, Interim Prime Minister of the exiled opposition instead accuses Assad's forces of having used chemical agents since the beginning of the conflict.

It had emerged several times as one of the main risks of the conflict, but this is the first time in two years of war that bombs or missiles with chemical warheads have been used. Although at present there is still no evidence to accuse the regime or the rebels for such actions, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, defines the use of such weapons "as an outrageous crime." Üzümcü Ahmed, Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said that "we are deeply concerned about the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria."

On the diplomatic front everyone is confused and depend on the statements, often tendentious, from both sides. Yesterday, the Russian Foreign Ministry gave credence to the version of the Syrian government, saying in a statement "that weapons of mass destruction have fallen into the hands of rebel fighters."

The United States and Europe have criticized Moscow and are wary of the accusations against the rebels of the Free Syrian Army. Britain and France have recently confirmed their support to the armed anti-Assad militias see the problem of chemical weapons as a call to direct intervention in the conflict. Mark Lyall Grant, Britain's ambassador to the United Nations states that "if there really has been the use of chemical warheads, this requires a serious response by the international community."

In the chaos of the blame game between Syrian regime, rebels and the international community, the location of the chemical weapons, their size and dimension remains unknown. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service of the United States, in recent decades, the Assad regime has accumulated stockpiles of nerve agents such as sarin gas, VX and mustard gas.



St. Herbert
Feast: March 20

Feast Day:March 20
Died:20 March, 687
Date of birth unknown; d. 20 March, 687; an anchorite of the seventh century, who dwelt for many years on the little island still known as St. Herbert's Isle, in the Lake of Derwentwater. He was for long the friend and disciple of St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. Little is known about him, save that it was his custom every year to visit St. Cuthbert for the purpose of receiving his direction in spiritual matters. In the year 686, hearing that his friend was visiting Carlisle for the purpose of giving the veil to Queen Eormenburg, he went to see him there, instead of at Lindisfarne as was usual. After they had spoken together, St. Cuthbert said, "Brother Herbert, tell to me now all that you have need to ask or speak, for never shall we see one another again in this world. For I know that the time of my decease is at hand." Then Herbert fell weeping at his feet and begged that St. Cuthbert would obtain for him the grace that they might both be admitted to praise God in heaven at the same time. And St. Cuthbert prayed and then made answer, "Rise, my brother, weep not, but rejoice that the mercy of God has granted our desire." And so it happened. For Herbert, returning to his hermitage, fell ill of a long sickness, and, purified of his imperfections, passed to God on the very day on which St. Cuthbert died on Holy Island. It is said that the remains of St. Herbert's chapel and cell may still be traced at the northern end of the island on which he lived. In 1374 Thomas Appleby, Bishop of Carlisle, granted an indulgence of forty days to all who, in honour of St. Herbert, visited the island in Derwentwater and were present at the Mass of St. Cuthbert to be sung annually by the Vicar of Crosthwaite.
(Taken From Catholic Encyclopedia)