Faith

OTTAWA - After 18 years of evangelizing youth across Canada, National Evangelization Teams (NET) Ministries has finally taken hold in Quebec.

Seven youth aged 18-20 will devote the next eight months of their lives to missionary work at Saint-Louis-de-France parish in Terrebonne, Que. There, they hope to bond with parishioners, who will billet them in their own homes, and lay the foundations for an active youth ministry while sharing the Good News and drawing people into a personal relationship with Christ.

“It is an amazing opportunity to be in Quebec and it is certainly missionary territory,” said Joe Vogel, executive director for NET.

NET Ministries already has several English-speaking youth missionary teams across Canada. Vogel explained that “Les equipes NET,” the French-speaking branch of NET, began several years ago as a travelling team which spent one to two weeks in various francophone communities. He likens the visits to planting a “seed” of faith, but in Terrebonne that seed will now be watered and given ample sunshine. The parish team will spend almost a year getting to know the community and its social reality, forming friendships, identifying the needs and wants of the faithful. It aims to organize a youth group, retreats, prayer events, anything to be effective in reaching people’s hearts for Christ. Essentially, the team is there to serve, responding wholeheartedly to the call for new evangelization, after a summer of training.

“We’re praying that it works and we are going to do the best that we can,” said Vogel. “Success would be witnessing the Gospel to young people and seeing lives changed.”

The community at Saint-Louisde-France was eagerly anticipating the NET team’s arrival this month. Micheline Chartrand, a lifetime parishioner, made the trip from Terrebonne to Ottawa on Sept. 29 for the NET Ministries’ Commissioning Mass, where Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast gave his blessing to all the young missionaries who will scatter across Canada this year.

“My hope is that by the end, we will have a group of youth who will be equipped to train other youth (to evangelize) and that they will experience peace and serenity in their hearts,” said Chartrand, adding that the French travelling team helped revive her faith during its visit more than a year ago.

None of the team members come from Quebec, but all are eager to explore the new mission territory and brush up on language skills at the same time.

“It’s a little intimidating, and humbling, but very exciting,” admits Kaylene McQuaid, originally from North Battleford, Sask. “I took French from Kindergarten until Grade 12, but I kind of took it for granted, and now I see there was definitely a reason why I took French. But being immersed in the culture will help as well.”

Charles Turner, a team member from Alberta, is honoured to live out the new evangelization in uncharted territory.

“We’re really coming out of our comfort zone,” he said.

In addition to Quebeckers, the NET missionaries will also be working directly with five missionary priests from France, members of the Community of Saint John, which was founded in 1975. The religious community of brothers began sending its priests to Quebec 16 years ago.

Fr. Marie Elie joined his brethren in Canada five years ago, with the task of finding the means to breathe life into the faith lives of the youth. Little by little, the priests have been creating opportunities for the youth of their parish to grow in faith and are preparing to send a group to the next World Youth Day. But NET seemed like the answer to their prayers, to give their ministry a boost.

“It is a beautiful opportunity to have young people who are equipped to encounter and engage young Quebeckers. The culture is a difficult one to penetrate, and a difficult one to connect with, and so we know that to succeed in the task we need help to show young Quebeckers that faith is not dead and the Gospel can be a beautiful part of their lives,” said Fr. Marie Elie.

NET missionary Pio Hartnett joins the Quebec team directly from Ireland. This year’s stay in Terrebonne will offer many challenges, but he still feels confident.

“The situation in Quebec reminds me of the situation in Ireland,” said Hartnett. “When I signed up for NET, I thought it would be amazing to be a part of this team... and so I am very excited.”

Crowds flock to New Jersey tree with a scar some claim resembles Mary

By

WASHINGTON - A scar on a tree on a West New York, N.J., street that some claim looks like Our Lady of Guadalupe is "a natural occurrence," said Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the Newark Archdiocese.

But he told Catholic News Service he hopes the devotion it has prompted might lead people to think more deeply about their faith. Crowds began to form at the site July 14.

News reports indicated that hundreds of people have come to the site, now dubbed the "Virgin Mary tree." Located on the corner of 60th Street and Bergenline Avenue, the tree has been taped off and is under watch by city police and volunteers.

Kateri feast day draws Native American Catholics eager for own saint

By

FONDA, N.Y. - With the beat of a drum sounding and the scent of burning sage and sweet grass permeating the hot, humid air, Native American Catholics honored a woman they already consider a saint July 14, her feast day.

This year's celebration was special, because in October the Algonquin-Mohawk woman who died more than 400 years ago will at long last become a saint.

Church must preach truth, justice, Pope says at Mass in Frascati

By

FRASCATI, Italy - Christians don't preach what the powerful want to hear or what will please a crowd; "their criteria is truth and justice," even if it garners no applause, Pope Benedict XVI said during an outdoor Mass.

The Pope celebrated Mass July 15 outside the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Frascati, about five miles from his summer villa at Castel Gandolfo.

Bishop Raffaello Martinelli of Frascati had worked with the Pope at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, specializing in catechesis. Pope Benedict told the estimated 8,000 people gathered in the square outside the cathedral that the bishop's "voice is very much present" in the text of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

'Blessed are the peacemakers' is theme of 2013 World Peace Day

By

VATICAN CITY - Threats to religious liberty and other basic rights, the global financial crisis and crises in politics and education signal a "worrying crisis of democracy," said a note from the Vatican announcing Pope Benedict XVI's choice of a theme for World Peace Day 2013.

In a message reflecting on the theme, "Blessed are the peacemakers," the Pope will offer "an ethical reflection" on measures that the global community is considering or should adopt in response to the various crises afflicting many countries around the world, said a Vatican communique published July 16.

No peace without dialogue, sacrifice, patience, Pope says

By

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - Just as individual musicians in an orchestra turn dissonance into harmony through hard work, sacrifice and listening to one another, so, too, can the world's people turn conflict into peace, said Pope Benedict XVI.

The pope made his remarks following a July 11 concert performed in his honor by young musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories and other Arab countries.

Mission work requires Gospel joy, living God's love, Pope says

By

VATICAN CITY - Bringing God's word to mission lands is successful only when missionaries live the Gospel with joy and share the love and goodness they receive from God, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"What is good has the inherent need to be conveyed, to give itself; it cannot stay closed up in itself (because) something good and goodness itself are essentially 'communicatio,'" that is, sharing with others, he said during a brief visit to a center belonging to the missionaries of the Society of the Divine Word.

Vatican issues 'venerable' decree for Archbishop Sheen

By

PEORIA, Ill. - The Vatican's June 28 decree that U.S. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen lived a life of heroic virtues and should be considered venerable, advancing his sainthood cause, prompted much rejoicing in his home state of Illinois.

"This is a great day for the Catholic diocese of Peoria and the Catholic Church in America," said Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, who added that the "heroic virtues of a son from central Illinois and a priest of Peoria have been recognized by the Catholic Church."

"Fulton Sheen's zeal, wisdom, and holiness should help us build our faith," he said.

Pope names German theologian to head doctrine office

By

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has named Archbishop Gerhard L. Muller of Regensburg, Germany, the new prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The 64-year-old expert in dogmatic theology and ecumenism, who has co-authored a work on liberation theology, replaced U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, who retired at 76.

As head of the doctrinal congregation, the archbishop also assumes the roles of president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the International Theological Commission.

Pope approves Archbishop Sheen's heroic virtues, step toward sainthood

By

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI has approved the heroic virtues of U.S. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the Vatican announced June 28, clearing the way for the advancement of his sainthood cause.

Among the others honored in decrees announced the same day were first prelate of Opus Dei, the Canadian and Irish-American founders of two orders of religious women, a priest murdered by the Sicilian Mafia, and 154 martyrs killed during the Spanish Civil War.

Submission, not power, raises people up to God, says Pope at audience

By

VATICAN CITY - Christians find fulfillment not by using power or force to realize their own wishes, but by being submissive to God's will and serving others, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Many in the world today are surrounded by people or things that threaten to become the guiding force in their lives, therefore, "it's necessary to have a hierarchy of values in which the top priority is God," the pope said during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall June 27.

It was his last general audience before the pope was to leave July 3 for vacation at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome. The weekly general audience was scheduled to resume Aug. 1.