Monday, March 10, 2014


On March 19 it will be the feast of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus.
The Novena Prayer to St. Joseph begins.
Say for nine consecutive mornings for anything you may desire. It has seldom been known to fail.
*Oh St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so 
strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I
place in you all my interests and desires.
Oh St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful
intercession and obtain for me from your
Divine Son all spiritual blessings through
Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged
here below your Heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the Loving of
Oh St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you
and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not
approach while He reposes near your heart.
Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head
for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I
draw my dying breath.
St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray
 for us.       Amen



Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
Lectionary: 225


Reading 1        IS 55:10-11

Thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Responsorial Psalm              PS 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19

R. (18b) From all their distress God rescues the just.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
The LORD has eyes for the just,
and ears for their cry.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.

Gospel                  MT 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

“If you forgive men their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”


St. Eulogius
Feast: March 11

Feast Day:March 11
prior to 819, Córdoba, Spain
Died:March 11, 859
Major Shrine:Cathedral of Oviedo
Spanish martyr and writer who flourished during the reigns of the Cordovan Caliphs, Abd-er-Rahman II and Mohammed I (822-886). It is not certain on what date or in what year of the ninth century he was born; it must have been previous to 819, because in 848 he was a priest highly esteemed among the Christians of Catalonia and Navarre, and priesthood was then conferred only on men thirty years of age. The family of the saint was of the nobility and held land in Cordova from Roman times. The Mussulman rulers of Spain, at the beginning of the eighth century, tolerated the creed of the Christians and left them, with some restrictions, their civil rule, ecclesiastical hierarchy, monasteries, and property, but made them feel the burden of subjection in the shape of pecuniary exactions and military service. In the large cities like Toledo and Cordova, the civil rule of the Christians did not differ from that of the Visigothic epoch. The government was exercised by the comes (count), president of the council of senators, among whom we meet a similarly named ancestor of Eulogius. The saint, like his five brothers, received an excellent education in accord with his good birth and under the guardianship of his mother Isabel. The youngest of the brothers, Joseph, held a high office in the palace of Abd-er-Rahman II; two other brothers, Alvarus and Isidore, were merchants and traded on a large scale as far as Central Europe. Of his sisters, Niola and Anulona, the first remained with her mother; the second was educated from infancy in a monastery where she later became a nun.
After completing his studies in the monastery of St. Zoilus, Eulogius continued to live with his family the better to care for his mother; also, perhaps, to study with famous masters, one of whom was Abbot Speraindeo, an illustrious writer of that time. In the meantime he found a friend in the celebrated Alvarus Paulus, a fellow-student, and they cultivated together all branches of science, sacred and profane, within their reach. Their correspondence in prose and verse filled volumes; later they agreed to destroy it as too exuberant and lacking in polish. Alvarus married, but Eulogius preferred the ecclesiastical career, and was finally ordained a priest by Bishop Recared of Cordova. Alvarus has left us a portrait of his friend: "Devoted", he says, "from his infancy to the Scriptures, and growing daily in the practice of virtue, he quickly reached perfection, surpassed in knowledge all his contemporaries, and became the teacher even of his masters. Mature in intelligence, though in body a child, he excelled them all in science even more than they surpassed him in years. Fair in feature [clarus vultu], honest and honourable, he shone by his eloquence, and yet more by his works. What books escaped his avidity for reading? What works of Catholic writers, of heretics and Gentiles, chiefly philosophers? Poets, historians, rare writings, all kinds of books, especially sacred hymns, in the composition of which he was a master, were read and digested by him; his humility was none the less remarkable and he readily yielded to the judgment of others less learned than himself." This humility shone particularly on two occasions. In his youth he had decided to make a foot pilgrimage to Rome; notwithstanding his great fervour and his devotion to the sepulchre of the Prince of the Apostles (a notable proof of the union of the Mozarabic Church with the Holy See), he gave up his project,  yielding to the advice of prudent friends. Again, during the Saracenic persecution, in 850, after reading a passage of the works of St. Epiphanius he decided to refrain for a time from saying Mass that he might better defend the cause of the martyrs; however, at the request of his bishop, Saul of Cordova, he put aside his scruples. His extant writings are proof that Alvarus did not exaggerate. They give an account of what is most important from 848 to 859 in Spanish Christianity, both without and within the Mussulman dominions, especially of the lives of the martyrs who suffered during the Saracenic persecution, quorum para ipse magna fuit. He was elected Archbishop of Toledo shortly before he was beheaded (11 March, 859). He left a perfect account of the orthodox doctrine which he defended, the intellectual culture which he propagated, the imprisonment and sufferings which he endured; in a word, his writings show that he followed to the letter the exhortation of St. Paul: Imitatores mei estote sicut et ego Christi. He is buried in the cathedral of Oviedo.

(Taken from Catholic Encyclopedia)

POPE FRANCIS appoints Economic Council and Latest from Vatican Information Service

Vatican City, 8 March 2014 (VIS) – Below is the full text of the press release issued this morning by the Holy See Press Office on the appointment of eight cardinals and seven expert laypersons as members of the Council for the Economy:
“Proceeding in the constitution of the new institutions created by the Motu proprio 'Fidelis dispensator et prudens' of 24 February 2014, the Holy Father has appointed eight cardinals and seven expert laypersons as members of the Council for the Economy, to serve for a five-year period:
- Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany (coordinator);
- Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, archbishop of Lima, Peru;
- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, U.S.A.;
- Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, archbishop of Durban, South Africa;
- Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, France;
- Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico;
- Cardinal John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong, China;
- Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of His Holiness for the diocese of Rome;
- Joseph F. X. Zahra, Malta (deputy coordinator);
- Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, France;
- John Kyle, Canada;
- Enrique Llano Cueto, Spain;
- Jochen Messemer, Germany;
- Francesco Vermiglio, Italy;
- George Yeo, Singapore.”
Vatican City, 8 March 2014 (VIS) – “Cardinals Cipriani Thorne, Napier, Rivera Carrera, Tong Hon, and Vallini, along with Cardinal Pell, new Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, were previously all members of the Council for the Study of Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See (Council of 15), which has ceased to exist. Cardinal Marx and Cardinal Pell, as is known, are both members of the Council of Cardinals for the reform of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus, and for assisting the Holy Father in the governance of the universal Church (Council of 8).
“The relations between the Council and the Secretariat for the Economy will be defined by the statutes, and in any case the Council is to be understood as a body with its own decision-making authority, not merely an advisory organ of the Secretariat for the Economy.
“The members appointed to the Council are from various geographical areas, reflecting, as requested by the Motu proprio Fidelis dispensator et prudens, the universality of the Church. The laypersons, selected on the basis of their professional experience and capacity, will become voting members of a dicastery, one of the governing organs of the Roman Curia. The lay members will work on an entirely voluntary and pro bono basis, and shall receive compensation only for travel and lodgings in Rome.
“The constitution of the Council for the Economy is a key step towards the consolidation of the current management structures of the Holy See, with the aim of improving coordination and oversight of economic and administrative matters. The institutions of the Holy See related to these matters will depend on the Council. The latter will adopt practical measures used by other public organisations and shall aim at greater transparency and appropriate management.
“The Council will begin work immediately, and its first meeting is scheduled for May”.
Vatican City, 8 March 2014 (VIS) – The International Symposium “The administration of the ecclesiastical assets of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life in the service of the humanum and the mission of the Church” is held at the “Antonianum” Pontifical Athenaeum on 8 and 9 March 2014. To mark the occasion the Holy Father sent a message to the participants in the Congress, in which he writes, “Our time is characterised by significant changes and progress in various fields, with important consequences for the life of humanity. However, although poverty has been reduced, the goals attained have often contributed to the construction of an economy of exclusion and injustice”.
“The Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life can and must be active agents in living and bearing witness that the principle of gratuity and the logic of giving have a place in economic activity. … Careful supervision is necessary to ensure that the assets of the Institutes are managed shrewdly and transparently, that they are protected and preserved, linking the charismatic-spiritual dimension to that of economy and efficiency, which has its humus in the administrative tradition of the Institutes, which does not tolerate waste and is attentive to the good use of resources”.
“The Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life have always been the prophetic voice and living witness to the novelty of Christ … who became poor so that we might be rich”, continues the Pope. It is not a theoretical poverty that we need, but rather the poverty that is learned by touching the flesh of the poor Christ, in the humble, in the poor, in the sick, in children”. Pope Francis concludes by encouraging the Institutes and Societies to continue their work in relation to “the poor and all material, moral and spiritual misery, overcoming all selfishness in the logic of the Gospel that teaches us to trust in God's Providence”.
Vatican City, 8 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has sent a message to the participants in the Congress, organised by the Vicariate of Rome, celebrated at the Pontifical Lateran University from 7 to 8 March on the theme: “The mission of Christian laypeople in the city”. Francis emphasised in his letter various “essential aspects”. “The lay faithful, by virtue of their Baptism, are agents in the work of evangelisation and human promotion. Incorporated in the Church, each member of the People of God is inseparably disciple and missionary. We must always depart from this common root of ours, as sons and daughters of the Mother Church”.
“As a result of this common belonging to the Church and participation in her mission”, he continues, “it is important that parishes and lay ecclesial bodies are not opposed to each other. The latter, with their variety and dynamic quality, are a resource for the Church, projecting into different environments and sectors of social life; but it is good for them to maintain a vital link to the organic pastoral ministry of the diocese and the parishes, so as not to construct a partial reading of the Gospel or to uproot themselves from the Mother Church”.
“I recommend that you make habitual use of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, a complete and valuable tool. With the help of this 'compass', I encourage you to work for the social inclusion of the poor, always offering religious and spiritual attention to them as a priority”, he concludes.
Vatican City, 10 March 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:
On Saturday, 8 March, the Holy Father received in audience:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
Fourteen prelates of the Spanish Episcopal Conference on their “ad limina” visit:
- Archbishop Francisco Javier Martinez Fernandez of Granada;
- Bishop Adolfo Gonzalez Montes of Almeria,
- Bishop Jose Manuel Lorca Planes of Cartagena;
- Bishop Gines Ramon Garcia Beltran of Guadix;
- Bishop Ramon del Hoyo Lopez of Jaen;
- Bishop Jesus Esteban Catala Ibanez of Malaga;
- Archbishop Juan Jose Asenjo Pelegrina of Seville with his auxiliary, Bishop Santiago Gomez Sierra;
- Bishop Rafael Zorzosa Boy of Cadiz y Ceuta;
- Bishop Demetrio Fernandez Gonzalez of Cordoba;
- Bishop Jose Vilaplana Blasco of Huelva;
- Bishop Francisco Cases Andreu of the Canary Islands;
- Bishop Jose Mazuelos Perez of Jerez de la Frontera;
- Bishop Bernardo Alvarez Afonso of San Cristobal de La Laguna, Tenerife.
Vatican City, 10 March 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:
- appointed Rev. Michael Fabian McCarthy as bishop of Rockhampton (area 415,000, population 402,654, Catholics 101,715, priests 43, religious 117), Australia. The bishop-elect was born in Toowoomba, Australia in 1950 and was ordained a priest in 1978. He has served in a number of pastoral roles, including president of the Pontifical Missionary Works and director of the Office for Migrants and Refugees; priest of the parishes of Laidley and Paradise; dean forane of South Coast; director for the permanent formation of the Clergy; rector of the provincial seminary of Brisbane; administrator of the parish of Wavell Heights; priest of the parish of Redcliffe City, and dean forane of Brisbane Northern Rivers. He is currently priest of the parish of Hendra, and episcopal vicar for the clergy.
On Saturday, 8 March, the Holy Father:
- appointed Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana as apostolic nuncio in Lituania;
- appointed Archbishop Giovanni Tonucci, prelate of Loreto and pontifical delegate for the Marian sanctuary, as pontifical delegate for the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua.
- appointed Msgr. Hubertus Matheus Maria van Megen as apostolic nuncio in Sudan, elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Eygelshoven, Netherlands in 1961, and was ordained a priest in 1987. He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1994, and has served in the pontifical representations of Sudan, Uruguay, Brazil, Jerusalem, Slovakia, at the office of the United Nations in Geneva and in the apostolic nunciature of Malawi.


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
11 Mar 2014
Toby Kane won a Paralympic bronze in the Super G at Torino in 2006
In a show of amazing courage, speed and skill Notre Dame medical student and Australian winter paralympian, Toby Kane competes in Sochi today in what is known as the Super Combined, which will have him skiing both the short and the giant slalom in a bid to capture gold.
The 27-year-old whose right leg was amputated below the knee after he was hit by a car on a footpath is a strong contender having beaten out the world's number 1, Russia's pocket rocket Alexey Bugaev in the Super Combined Slalom to win the International Paralympics Committee's World Cup Gold Medal in Italy last week.
The Super Combined is the fourth year med student's favourite event but he is well aware that having won the prestigious Gold Cup by just 0.01 seconds he is going to have to pull out all the stops if he is to defeat Bugaev a second time.
Over the weekend Toby came in an impressive sixth in the standing Downhill. But in Sochi's brutal Super G he along with 31 other competitors crashed out.
Toby had been well on his way to making the podium after clocking up the first split that would have put him in contention for bronze.
Had he finished the tough 1800 metre run he would have had a bronze medal to add to the bronze he won at the Torino Paralympics when at 19 years of age he was the youngest member of Australia's paralympic team.
Tune in to the ABC to see Australia's Toby Kane compete in the Super Combined at Sochi
But it is today's race where Toby is tipped to win and take out gold.
"Toby knows he is skiing well," says Australia's head coach Steve Graham. "He also knows you can't be conservative."
What is remarkable is that in the two events so far, Toby has competed on one ski against a majority of contenders who have the use of their legs and are on two skiis.
"Having two skiis is a fair advantage," he admits. "Those guys tend to have a level of consistency that's hard for us to achieve, and the harder we go the more likely we are to crash," he said yesterday.
The turn that ended Toby's chances in the Super G on Sunday was one that skewed his skiing leg on the inside, which is where balance for one legged skiers is most compromised.
"I knew it was going to be pretty difficult," a philosophical Toby said and with a grin added "I was probably one degree off where I needed to be, and you're on your arse."
But he is pleased with the way he is skiing and has high hopes for today's event.
Notre Dame Medical student Toby Kane competes in Super G at Sochi
The Super Combined is equally tough and will have Toby competing in the short slalom with tight fast turns and the giant slalom which has fewer and wider smoother turns. Each skier will make two runs down the two different courses on the same slope. Their times are then added and the fastest total time will determine the winner.
For the 100-plus medical students at Notre Dame's Sydney Medical School the race will be closely followed on television with each and everyone of them, along with staff and lecturers barracking for Toby as he streaks down the course wearing the Aussie green and gold.
Born and growing up in Melbourne, Toby took up skiing when he was just five years old, three years after he had had his left leg amputated.
"Growing up with a disability, I wanted to compete with anyone at anything to prove I could do whatever the other kids could do," he says.
That meant not only mastering skiing on one leg, but playing cricket, soccer, competing in swimming matches and playing water polo.
Toby Kane competed in the Downhill Standing and Super G at Sochi at the weekend
"For me skiing competitively was an extension of this; I wanted to try and prove what was possible and push the boundaries of skiing on one leg. And this has continued to be my inspiration throughout my skiing career, pushing the boundaries of one-legged skiing."
Toby is certainly doing this in Sochi. But this year's Winter Paralympics may also be his last.
Having competed in Torino in 2006, Vancouver in 2010, and now a member of the Australian team in Sochi, Toby is aware that after graduation with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery later this year, he will become a doctor which will leave little time for training.
Commencing his medical studies at Notre Dame's Medical School in 2011, Toby has managed to juggle training and study.
Nothing slows snow speedster Toby Kane who had his right leg amputated after a car accident when he was two
"Throughout my third year I spent one day a week at university, four days a week gaining clinical experience at the hospital and studied the course work at night and on the weekend," he says and believes it was strict organisation and experience that also enabled him to train in the gym four times a week for an hour and a half each.
"I think my experience in the sport allowed me to handle this balance. I don't think I could have done this if I was relatively new to the sport," he says.
In addition Toby was able to participate in Notre Dame's Elite Athlete Friendly University (EAFU) program which provided him with additional support and study flexibility.
Check with ABC programming for television coverage of the Combined Slalom set for today 11 March in Sochi.

POPE FRANCIS will visit South Korea during their Youth Day - Official Vatican statement

(Vatican Radio) It’s official: Pope Francis is going to South Korea. A statement from the Press Office of the Holy See on Monday confirmed that the Holy Father will be traveling to the Republic of Korea from August 14th to August 18th. “Welcoming the invitation from the President of the Republic and the Korean bishops,” the statement reads, “His Holiness Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Voyage to the Republic of Korea from 14 to 18 August 2014, on the occasion of the Sixth Asian Youth Day, to be held in the diocese of Daejeon.” No further details of the trip were immediately available, though the Holy Father has received invitations from, and spoken of his desire to visit a number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Sri Lanka.

Text from Vatican Radio website 


Archbishop Fulton John Sheen Foundation
Peoria, IL -- The Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, Bishop of Peoria and President of the Archbishop

Fulton Sheen Foundation, received word early Thursday morning that the 7-member board of medical experts who advise the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints at the Vatican unanimously approved a reported miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

The case involved a still born baby born in September 2010. For over an hour the child demonstrated no

signs of life as medical professionals attempted every possible life saving procedure, while the child's
parents and loved ones began immediately to seek the intercession of Fulton Sheen. After 61 minutes
the baby was restored to full life and made a full recovery. The child, now three years old, continues in
good health.
Today's decision affirms that the team of Vatican medical experts can find no natural explanation for the
child's healing. The case will next be reviewed by a board of theologians. With their approval the case
could move on to the cardinals and bishops who advise the Pope on these matters. Finally, the miracle
would be presented to Pope Francis who would then officially affirm that God performed a miracle
through the intercession of Fulton Sheen. There is no timeline as to when these next steps might move
"Today is a significant step in the Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of our beloved Fulton
Sheen, a priest of Peoria and a Son of the Heartland who went on to change the world. There are many
more steps ahead and more prayers are needed. But today is a good reason to rejoice," commented
Bishop Jenky.
 Fulton Sheen was born May 8, 1895 in El Paso, IL outside of Peoria. His family moved to Peoria so that
Fulton and his brothers could attend Catholic school. He grew up in the parish of the Cathedral of St.
Mary where he was an altar server and later ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria. After advanced
studies and service as a parish priest in the city of Peoria, Fulton Sheen was a professor of philosophy
and religion at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. In the 1930s he became a popular
radio personality and later a TV pioneer. His weekly TV program, "Life is Worth Living" eventually
reached 30 million viewers and won an Emmy award for outstanding TV program.
From 1950-1966, Bishop Sheen was the national director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith
in the United States, the Church's primary missionary apostolate. In 1966, he was named Bishop of
Rochester of New York where he served until his retirement in 1969, when he was named honorary
Archbishop by Pope Paul VI. Fulton Sheen died at the entrance to his private chapel in his New York City
apartment on December 9, 1979.
In September 2002, Bishop Jenky officially opened the cause for the beatification and canonization of
Fulton Sheen. For six years, the Sheen Foundation, the official promoter of the Cause, gathered
testimony from around the world and reviewed all of Sheen's writings, before sending their conclusions
to the Vatican. In June 2012, Pope Benedict affirmed the investigation that Sheen had lived a life of
heroic virtue and holiness. Sheen was then titled "Venerable."

Pending further review by the theologians and the cardinals who advise the Pope through the

Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, should Pope Francis validate this proposed miracle, Sheen

could then be declared "Blessed" in a ceremony that could be celebrated in Peoria, Sheen's hometown.

Upon the Holy Father signing the decree for the beatification, an additional miracle would lead to the

Canonization of Archbishop Sheen, in which he would be declared a “Saint.”

For more information about Fulton Sheen and the Cause for his canonization, visit:

POPE FRANCIS on Lent Retreat - Humbly takes bus and sits among curia at services

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is in the hillside town of Ariccia just south of Rome for a week-long Lenten retreat with members of the Curia. The Pope left the Vatican Sunday afternoon by bus – just a few hours after reciting the Angelus prayer with the faithful in St. Peter’s square. 

Breaking from a long-held tradition of holding them in the Vatican, Pope Francis decided to organize this year’s annual retreat from March 9-14 at the Pauline Fathers’ retreat and conference center in Ariccia. The small medieval town is not far from the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo. And, in choosing to get away from the Vatican and the daily pressures of curia work and duties, Pope Francis is telling us silence and prayer can have a transforming power in one’s life and relationships with others.

In an interview last week in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Pope Francis said annual retreats should be given more importance and “everyone has a right to spend five days in silence and meditation." And, speaking to a group of spiritual directors in audience in the Vatican, the Pope said those who go on an “authentic” retreat "experience the attraction and fascination of God and return renewed and transfigured in their daily lives, their ministry and their relationships."

Msgr. Angelo De Donatis, pastor of a parish in the center of Rome, is preaching for the Pope and curia officials this week. A respected spiritual director of priests and seminarians, Msgr De Donatis is reflecting on the theme of "the purification of the heart" in his mediations throughout the week.

The Pauline Fathers' complex in Ariccia, House of the Divine Master, is nestled in the forests of the hills overlooking Lake Albano. It boasts 124 rooms and five chapels, a large dining area, gardens and meeting rooms. The Pope and senior officials will undoubtedly be enjoying the brisk but sunny weather predicted for this week, also by following the outdoor Way of the Cross and Rosary trails set out through the woods for quiet meditation and prayer.

But just what is the Pope doing every day? He and is top aids begin their day with Mass, breakfast and a meditation by Msgr De Donatis. Then, there’s lunch and free time before another mediation at 4 p.m. That’s followed by vespers, Eucharistic adoration and dinner.

On the final day, March 14, those participating in the retreat will celebrate Mass together, have breakfast, listen to the last meditation, and then leave for the Vatican at 10:30 a.m.

Text from Vatican Radio website 

Breaking Megachurch Leader Ulf Ekman from Sweden converts to Catholic Church

Ulf Ekman founder of Word of Life, a megachurch in Uppsala, Sweden He announced that he and his wife, Birgitta, are converting to Roman Catholicism.  Word of Life has nearly 3,000 members and 12 pastors. They run a church school with about 1,000 students. Ekman launched Scandinavia’s largest Bible school, built Scandinavia’s largest free church building, started a TV program on all continents, and published books in 60 languages.
This conversion will have significant affects on the entire country due to this man's vast influence. Here is the Ulf Ekman Official Site statement and video:
During our last Sunday service, pastor Ulf Ekman shared the news that he and his wife Birgitta will be received into the Catholic Church. A process of many years of prayer and reflection led to this decision.

During the last ten years, Ulf and Birgitta have had contact with catholics and catholic faith, mostly internationally but also in Sweden. This has made them reflect more on the catholic faith and on the spiritual life they have seen in their catholic brothers and sisters.

- For Birgitta and me, this has been a slow process were we have gone from discovering new things, to appreciating what we have discovered, to approach and even learn from our fellow Christians, Ulf Ekman says.
- We have seen a great love for Jesus and a sound theology, founded on the Bible and classic dogma. We have experienced the richness of sacramental life. We have seen the logic in having a solid structure for priesthood, that keeps the faith of the church and passes it on from one generation to the next. We have met an ethical and moral strength and consistency that dare to face up to the general opinion, and a kindness towards the poor and the weak. And, last but not least, we have come in contact with representatives for millions of charismatic Catholics and we have seen their living faith, Ulf Ekman explains.
- All this has been both attractive and challenging. It really challenged our protestant prejudices, and we realized that we in many cases did not have any basis for our criticism of them. We needed to know the Catholic faith better. This led us to the realize that it was actually Jesus Christ who led us to unite with the Catholic Church, Ulf Ekman says.
Ulf and Birgitta Ekman emphazises that this is about a personal journey.
- It has not been our agenda to lead Word of Life in this direction, or to collectively unite the church with the Catholic Church. That would be unreasonable.
In his speech to the church this Sunday, Ulf Ekman stressed that this step was not going from something, but more importantly going towards something else.
- We love the church that we have been a part of building and serving for the last thirty years, and we could never be anything but grateful for the time we have had together, but we have felt a clear calling from the Lord to take this new step. Now, when we do so, we are convinced that the Word of Life church is in good hands and will keep prospering and bear fruit in it’s on vision.


by Paul Dakiki
The release took place around midnight, hours after the news first broke. The Lebanese and Qatari security chiefs Abbas Ibrahim and Ghanim al- Kubaisi were key mediators. The nuns were held on the second and third floor of a house controlled by the Al Nusra Front rebels for two months. Great publicity and media alerted ahead of release.

Beirut ( AsiaNews) - The group of Orthodox nuns kidnapped last December in Maaloula were released last night around midnight. In return, the Syrian regime released 153 rebels held prisoners.
The 13 nuns and three of their assistants were received by a convoy of cars that had arrived in Rahoua in Syria from Arsal in the Bekaa district of Lebanon.
The news of their imminent release had broken yesterday morning. All day, a Lebanese security convoy, headed by Security Chief Gen. Abbas Ibrahim waited on the Syrian border for hours for the go ahead to collect the nuns. According to Lebanese media sources, the kidnappers had second thoughts , but in the end the sisters were brought to safety. It is assumed - but not certain -that they were brought to Damascus.
Their first statements described how they had "arrived late" and were "tired", but that they were "well treated" by their kidnappers .
In recent days it became clear that the nuns had been kidnapped by the Al Nusra Front, a rebel group linked to al Qaeda, fighting with the Syrian government but also with other rebel groups to head the opposition. The Al Nusra Front has been branded as "terrorist" even by Saudi Arabia, the main sponsor of the Syrian rebels.
There were many mediators for the nuns' release. The most important were Gen. Ibrahim and the Gen. Ghanim al- Kubaisi, Qatari Chief of Security, another strong rebel supporter, both present at the release. The two had already worked effectively for the release of a group of Shiite pilgrims from Iran last October.
Abducted on 3 December Maaloula , north of Damascus, the sisters were brought to Yabroud , about 20 km to the north, currently under fire from the Syrian regular army . According to Bishop Louka Khouri the Greek - Orthodox patriarch of Syria, the Syrian army's pressure on Yabroud facilitated the nun's release.
George Hasouani, another mediator who had negotiated in vain with the Al Nusra Front, said that the nuns were held for two months in a house he owned in Yabroud , living together in the second and third floor, while the first was occupied by the rebels. In this way they could receive food, clothing, blankets and medicines, as some of them are suffering from hypertension and diabetes.
Many Lebanese were surprised by the media clamor that surround the nun's release.  A large number of journalists and broadcasters were summoned to the border between Syria and Lebanon.

Two bishops of Aleppo, Greek - Orthodox bishop Boulos Yazigi , and Syrian Orthodox bishop Youhanna Ibrahim, and some priests are still in the hands of their kidnappers, including Italian Jesuit missionary Fr. Paolo dall'Oglio.


Catholic clergy take position on the ground in Crimea

Communications Office, Friday 7 March 2014
BISHOPS called for prayers for peace, but a priest in the naval port of Sevastopol said the families of Catholic troops serving with Ukrainian and Russian forces were "deeply confused and worried" about the military confrontation in the Crimean peninsula.
Fr Jerzy Ziminski, rector of the St Clement, Pope and Martyr Parish in Sevastopol, told Catholic News Service that he had had no contacts with Russian commanders in the city, but said he had been "treated politely" and allowed through by occupying Russian units when he visited Ukrainian troops March 3 in their local barracks.

He criticized ethnic Russians who were staging independence demonstrations in the streets.

"They were sitting here like cowards, like rats under a broom -- but as soon as the Russian army arrived, they went out into the streets," he said. "What's the point of being here if you can only live behind a cordon, supported by a foreign army from beyond the Kerch Strait, and only occasionally appearing as an assembled rabble?" 


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese RELEASE
10 Mar 2014
Commission Chair, Justice Peter McClellan
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse began a two-week hearing in Sydney today focussing on the Church's Towards Healing procedure and sex abuse victim John Ellis.
A lawyer, Mr Ellis was sexually abused between 1974 and 1979 when he was aged between 13 and 17 years old by a Fr Aiden Duggan, a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Sydney at the time.
Eventually in 2002 Mr Ellis approached the Professional Standards Office (PSO) to discuss the pastoral and redress options available under Towards Healing.
However when mediation failed Mr Ellis in 2004 sued the priest, Fr Duggan, Cardinal George Pell in his capacity as Archbishop of Sydney and the body corporate, The Trustees of the Roman Catholic Church for the Archdiocese of Sydney, established under the Roman Catholic Church Trust Property Act 1936 (NSW) to hold property on trust for the diocese and its parishes.
Fr Duggan died soon after. The action failed with the Court of Appeal finding neither Cardinal Pell nor the body corporate could be liable for Fr Duggan's criminal conduct.
Apart from covering the response of the Catholic Church to the complaint of child sexual abuse by John Ellis under Towards Healing, this case study #8 will also look into the review of the Towards Healing process in relation to Mr Ellis's complaint and the civil action commenced by him.
This hearing will also examine the Towards Healing process and its review in relation to this complaint and the civil action commenced by Mr Ellis.
In her opening address to the hearing, Gail Furness SC, counsel advising the Commission, outlined Mr Ellis's journey through Towards Healing to litigation.
John Ellis
"The manner in which this litigation was conducted caused harm and suffering to Mr Elllis," Ms Furness told the hearing.
Also quoting a section from a statement tendered to the Commission by Cardinal Pell, Ms Furness said  Cardinal Pell notes  "Whatever position was taken by the lawyers during the litigation, or by lawyers or individuals within the Archdiocese following the litigation, my own view is that the Church in Australia should be able to be sued in cases of this kind."
In the hearing room today Mr Ellis, quietly spoken and often visibly upset, either read or was taken through his statement by Ms Furness.
He spoke about being regularly abused by Fr Duggan when he was an altar boy at his parish church - mostly in the presbytery but also while Fr Duggan was on holiday. He said he was ashamed of what was happening but knew it was meant to be a secret. Mr Ellis said the sexual activity with Fr Duggan continued after he left school and was studying and although less frequent than at school continued until he was 26 years of age.
Ellis said the conduct was unwelcomed at all times, but he found it difficult to stop Fr Duggan from touching him.
It was not until 1996 and after Mr Ellis and his first wife had divorced that Mr Ellis recognised Fr Duggan's conduct towards him was abusive and wrong. However he could not speak about the abuse to anyone until 2001.
Mr Ellis then described that from then on he experienced a severe decline in his emotional and physical wellbeing including episodes of anger, rage, depression and confusion.
He inquired about the Church's Towards Healing. However mediation was not successful. Mr Ellis told the hearing he would have settled for $100,000 compensation.
Ms Furness said evidence from Cardinal Pell would say he was not aware Mr Ellis had nominated a settlement of $100,000 and he understood he was pursing a claim for "many millions of dollars".
Ultimately Mr Ellis sought reparation through the court but lost on appeal with costs awarded to the Archdiocese.
Senior Counsel Gail Furness SC
Following a meeting with Cardinal Pell, Ellis was assured the Archdiocese and its insurers would not attempt to recover any costs. Mr Ellis also received payments up to October 2012 totalling $568,000 from the Church for financial assistance and counselling.
The Commission will again hear from Mr Ellis tomorrow. There are eight  other witnesses including the former Director of Professional Standards (NSW/ACT), Mr John Davoren; the current Director, Mr Michael Salmon; Facilitator, Professional Standards Office (NSW/ACT; Former Vicar General and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Sydney, Msgr Brian Raynor; the current Chancellor, Msgr John Usher and Cardinal Pell.
For further details including full opening address by Ms Furness and transcripts go to,
Truth, Justice and Healing Council at  and Catholic Talk at