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Shrine in the Nation’s Capital to be Part of a Global Marathon of Prayer for an End to the COVID-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON - Pope Francis has called for a “marathon” of prayer during the month of May to appeal for divine assistance in bringing about an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Marian shrines around the world have been chosen by the Holy See to lead the rosary each day of the month with specific prayer intentions focused on those impacted by the pandemic.

In the United States, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. has been asked to lead the rosary on Monday, May 17. Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, archbishop of Washington, will lead the recitation of the rosary at 12:00 PM ET that day for the special intention of world leaders and the heads of international organizations as they continue to work to combat the pandemic.

The faithful are invited to join online, and the prayer will be livestreamed on the shrine’s website at: www.nationalshrine.org/mass. In addition, the national shrine will accommodate 1,000 people while maintaining appropriate social distancing in its Great Upper Church; those wishing to attend in person are invited to register at: www.nationalshrine.org/mass-registration.

This month-long initiative of prayer is being organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. The shrines chosen for each day of prayer reflect the global reach and diversity of the Catholic Church as each prays in their local language.

For more information on this worldwide effort, please visit: http://www.pcpne.va/content/pcpne/en/news/2021-04-23.html.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
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Series of Webinars Launched by USCCB to Uphold the Fruitful Work of Lay Ecclesial Ministers in the Church

WASHINGTON – In the ongoing effort to affirm and exemplify the contributions of lay ecclesial ministers in the Catholic Church, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has launched a series of webinars and testimonial videos.

Entitled “Co-Workers: Bishops and Lay Ecclesial Ministers in Conversation,” the series is co-hosted by the USCCB’s Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth (LMFLY) and the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame and is open to all pastoral leaders in the Church.

Several webinars have already been recorded and the series continues on May 17 with a segment featuring Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez of Philadelphia, accompanied by Matt Davis and Marisally Santiago, two lay leaders who work with the archbishop in Philadelphia.

Previous installments in this series are available for viewing and as additional segments are produced will be available on the USCCB website at: https://www.usccb.org/committees/laity-marriage-family-life-youth/lay-ecclesial-ministry.

  • Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland in Oregon with Julie Onderko (January 2021)
  • Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend with Esther Terry (February 2021)
  • Bishop William A. Wack, CSC, of Pensacola-Tallahassee with Sharmane Adams and Chris Benzinger (March 2021)
  • Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa with Dr. Richard Meloche, Adam Minihan, and Dr. Christine Myers (April 2021)

With this series, the LMFLY Secretariat hopes to uphold the work of lay ecclesial ministers, and also recognize and speak to some of the challenges they experience in their ministry, including the COVID pandemic, the economy, and the impact it has on all those who minister in the Church. To learn more about the role of the laity in the Church visit:  https://www.usccb.org/committees/laity-marriage-family-life-youth/laity.

 

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman Welcomes Revised Refugee Admissions Cap

WASHINGTON—Yesterday, the Biden Administration announced that it will increase the number of refugees who can be resettled in the United States during the current fiscal year to 62,500. In response to Monday’s announcement, Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“As a nation of immigrants, we have a moral obligation to help our brothers and sisters around the world who are in need. The updated refugee admissions cap is a step in the right direction to help those who need it most. We were pleased with the Administration’s previous decision to reinstate the regional allocation framework, but this increase was a crucial step toward rebuilding the crippled Refugee Admissions Program. We view this number as a stepping stone toward the Administration’s stated goal of 125,000 admissions, a figure more consistent with our values and capabilities as a nation.

“For decades, the United States has been a leader in refugee resettlement. We are in the midst of the greatest forced displacement crisis of our lifetime and know that there are more than 26 million refugees worldwide and more than 47 million people who are internally displaced. It is imperative that we act now to ensure the safety of these individuals and their families. The Catholic Church teaches that every person is created in God’s image and must be valued, protected, and respected for the inherent dignity that he or she possesses. It is more important now than ever that our country continue to lead as we address this humanitarian emergency.”

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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Catholics Encouraged to Mark National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea, May 22

WASHINGTON – Bishop Brendan J. Cahill of Victoria, Texas, and episcopal promoter of Stella Maris in the United States, is encouraging dioceses to mark the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea on May 22. The day is intended to remember the men and women seafarers, and for Masses celebrated on that day, priests are encouraged to use the text for the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea.

National Maritime Day is also commemorated on May 22 as an opportunity to recognize the hardworking men and women of the U.S. Merchant Marine, seafarers, fishers, port personnel, and all who work or travel on the high seas for the vital services they provide in support of our nation’s economic well-being and national security.

To mark National Maritime Day, the national Stella Maris office will be hosting the virtual prayer service on Thursday, May 20 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, the service will be streamed virtually; please register here. Across the world, seafarers have often been trapped on ships at sea and unable to return home because of the ongoing health crisis, and there have also been many crews at home unable to work due to the restrictions of the pandemic and are unable to support their families. A significant number are suffering from depression, suicides are on the rise, and many are working extended hours beyond what is typically considered safe, or being forced to work without contracts.

Many seafarers are Catholic Christians and largely a migrant population in the world. Because of the nature of their work, they are not always a visible community presence.

In over 50 ports, there are more than 100 Stella Maris chaplains, maritime deacons, and lay ecclesial ministers who minister to seafarers. They welcome, network, and reach out to seafarers, fishermen and women, their families, and all who work or travel on the seas. Through the celebration of the Eucharist and the Word of God, the chaplaincy team helps seafarers discover the loving presence of God in an often challenging world. Their continued presence is a clear indication of their dedication to this vital pastoral ministry and love for the people of the sea.

More information is available at: http://www.usccb.org/stellamaris

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Michael Sheridan of the Diocese of Colorado Springs; Appoints Father James Golka of Diocese of Grand Island as Successor

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Sheridan, 76, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Colorado Springs and has appointed Father James R. Golka, a priest of the Diocese of Grand Island as Bishop-elect of Colorado Springs. Bishop-elect Golka currently serves as rector of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Grand Island, Nebraska. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on April 30, 2021 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Father Golka was born September 22, 1966 in Grand Island, Nebraska. He attended Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Theology (1985-1989). He served as a Jesuit lay missionary volunteer for the Native American Missions in South Dakota (1989-1990) before entering St. Paul Seminary in Minnesota where he received a Master of Divinity in 1994. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 1994 for the Diocese of Grand Island.

Bishop-elect Golka’s assignments after ordination include: associate pastor at St. James parish in Kearney (1994-2000), associate pastor at Holy Rosary parish in Alliance (2000-2001); pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Scottsbluff (2001-2006); and pastor of St. Patrick’s parish and president of St. Patrick’s School in North Platte (2006-2016). Since 2016, he has served as rector of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Grand Island and vicar general since 2018.

Bishop-elect Golka’s pastoral ministry also includes service as a member of the diocesan College of Consultors, the Presbyteral Council, and the Personnel Board. He has also served as the director of Higher Ground, a diocesan summer retreat experience for youth, as well as a pilgrimage director for Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Bishop-elect Golka speaks both English and Spanish.

The Diocese of Colorado Springs is comprised of 15,493 square miles in the state of Colorado and has a total population of 1,169,053 of which 187,048 are Catholic.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Francis Malooly of the Diocese of Wilmington; Appoints Monsignor William Koenig of Diocese of Rockville Centre as Successor

WASHINGTON—Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop W. Francis Malooly, 77, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Wilmington and has appointed Monsignor William E. Koenig, a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre as Bishop-elect of Wilmington. Bishop-elect Koenig currently serves as vicar for clergy for the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on April 30, 2021 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Monsignor Koenig was born August 17, 1956 in Queens, New York. He attended Cathedral College in Douglaston, New York (1975-1979) and received a Master’s degree in Divinity from Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, New York (1979-1983) and a Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University in Bronx, New York (1994). He was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Rockville Centre on May 14, 1983.

Bishop-elect Koenig’s assignments after ordination include: parochial vicar at St. Edward the Confessor parish in Syosset (1983-1986); parochial vicar at St. James parish in Setauket (1986-1989); director of vocations (1989-1996) and director of the Office of Ministry to Priests (1990-1996) for the Diocese of Rockville Centre; parochial vicar at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre (1996-2000); pastor of St. William the Abbot parish in Seaford (2000-2009); and rector of St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre (2009-2020). Since 2020, Monsignor Koenig has served as the vicar for clergy for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

Bishop-elect Koenig’s pastoral ministry also includes service as a member of the diocesan priest personnel board since 2019. In 2007, Monsignor Koenig was named Chaplain to His Holiness, with title of Monsignor.

The Diocese of Wilmington is comprised of 1,932 square miles in the state of Delaware and 3,375 square miles in the state of Maryland and has a total population of 1,490,342 of which 246,999 are Catholic.

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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U.S. Bishop Chairmen Express Support for Commitments at Leaders Summit on Climate

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden convened the Leaders Summit on Climate on April 22-23, which included a video message by Pope Francis. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, respective chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development and International Justice and Peace, have released the following statement in support of the Holy Father:

“Pope Francis addressed a virtual gathering of over 40 leaders from the highest levels of world government at the White House’s Leaders Summit on Climate, saying, ‘our concern is to see that the environment is cleaner, healthier and conserved, and to take care of nature so that it takes care of us.’

“We commend the Biden Administration’s commitment to climate stewardship and environmental justice, consistent with the decision to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. The Leaders Summit on Climate reflects renewed American leadership on climate change, and the pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030 is an ambitious and welcome national goal. Consistent with the Holy Father’s call for integral ecology, the movement towards a net-zero emission world must also emphasize just transition so that working families who rely on the energy sector are not left behind.” 

Previous USCCB advocacy related to the Paris Agreement can be found at the following links:

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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Pope Francis Encourages Discerners to Follow in the Footsteps of Saint Joseph in Celebration of Annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations

WASHINGTON - The 58th annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be celebrated by the Catholic Church on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, commonly referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday. The World Day of Prayer for Vocations unites the faithful in praying for those currently discerning and living out vocations to ordained ministry and consecrated life.

Last December, Pope Francis marked the 150th anniversary of the Church’s declaration of Saint Joseph as Patron of the universal Church and proclaimed the Year of Saint Joseph (December 8, 2020 to December 8, 2021). In his message for the 2021 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis again turns to Saint Joseph, as a guide for fathers and mothers, both biological and spiritual, who seek to foster the gift of vocation in the hearts of those entrusted to them, saying:

The Lord desires to shape the hearts of fathers and mothers: hearts that are open, capable of great initiatives, generous in self-giving, compassionate in comforting anxieties, and steadfast in strengthening hopes. The priesthood and the consecrated life greatly need these qualities nowadays, in times marked by fragility but also by the sufferings due to the pandemic, which has spawned uncertainties and fears about the future and the very meaning of life. Saint Joseph comes to meet us in his gentle way, as one of “the saints next door”. At the same time, his strong witness can guide us on the journey.”

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) stated that Saint Joseph teaches us the value of holy perseverance and patience. “We are living in very challenging times full of uncertainty and fear,” he said. “Yet, Saint Joseph teaches us, especially our young people, that consistent, quiet fidelity to God is what opens our hearts to receive Christ’s grace and peace. In imitation of Saint Joseph, may we entrust our hearts and desires completely to Our Risen Lord.”

In conjunction with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the CCLV Committee released the Ordination Class of 2021 Study, conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. A few of the major findings of the report are:

  • On average, responding ordinands first considered priesthood when they were 17 years old.
  • Two-thirds of responding ordinands (65%) are Caucasian. One in six (16%) are Latino/Hispanic. One in ten (10%) are Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian. And one in twenty (6%) are African/African American/black.
  • The four most common countries of origin among foreign-born ordinands are Mexico, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Poland.
  • Three in five (60%) completed an undergraduate or graduate degree before entering seminary.
  • In regard to participation in various activities before entering the seminary, half of all responding ordinands (46%) participated in a parish youth group. A quarter (25%) participated in Catholic campus ministry/Newman Center.
  • Nine in ten responding ordinands (93%) report being encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life (most frequently, the parish priest, a friend, or another parishioner).
  • Half of responding ordinands (47%) indicate that they were discouraged from considering the priesthood by one or more persons. Most often, this person was a family member (other than parents) or a friend/classmate.

The full CARA report and profiles of the Ordination Class of 2021 can be accessed here: https://www.usccb.org/committees/clergy-consecrated-life-vocations/ordination-classes

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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Statement of U.S. Bishop Chairmen on Verdict in Trial of Derek Chauvin

WASHINGTON – Following the verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minnesota today, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development issued a statement.

The bishops’ full statement follows:

“Today, a jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd. As we receive this result, we recall that God is the source of all justice, love, and mercy. The death of George Floyd highlighted and amplified the deep need to see the sacredness in all people, but especially those who have been historically oppressed. Whatever the stage of human life, it not only matters, it is sacred.

“The events following George Floyd's death also highlighted the urgent need for racial healing and reconciliation. As we have seen so plainly this past year, social injustices still exist in our country, and the nation remains deeply divided on how to right those wrongs. We join our voices and prayers in support of Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, and the entire Minnesota Catholic Conference which said today:

As a diverse community, the Catholic Church is committed to changing hearts and minds and to moving the conversation about race in this country beyond accusations and recriminations toward practical, nonviolent solutions to the everyday problems that are encountered in these communities.’

“Let us pray that through the revelation of so much pain and sadness, that God strengthens us to cleanse our land of the evil of racism which also manifests in ways that are hardly ever spoken, ways that never reach the headlines. Let us then join in the hard work of peacefully rebuilding what hatred and frustration have torn down. This is the true call of a disciple and the real work of restorative justice. Let us not lose the opportunity to pray that the Holy Spirit falls like a flood on our land again, as at Pentecost, providing us with spiritual, emotional, and physical healing, as well as new ways to teach, preach, and model the Gospel message in how we treat each other.”

The USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism has prepared resources for prayer which may be found here; earlier this week, Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda and priests across the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis offered special Masses “For the Preservation of Peace and Justice.” Last summer, several bishop chairmen of USCCB committees and the president of the Conference issued statements regarding George Floyd’s death in addition to the individual statements by bishops from around the United States.

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Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte

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U.S. Bishops’ Pro Life Committee Chairman Denounces Reversal of Limits on Human Fetal Tissue Research

WASHINGTON - The National Institutes of Health announced last Friday that it is reversing limits on human fetal tissue research that were put in place by the Trump Administration. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities issued the following statement in response:

“The bodies of children killed by abortion deserve the same respect as that of any other person. Our government has no right to treat innocent abortion victims as a commodity that can be scavenged for body parts to be used in research. It is unethical to promote and subsidize research that can lead to legitimizing the violence of abortion. Researchers have demonstrated that we can do effective scientific research and develop efficacious clinical treatments without harvesting tissue from aborted babies. It is also deeply offensive to millions of Americans for our tax dollars to be used for research that collaborates with an industry built on the taking of innocent lives.  I call on the Biden Administration to instead fund research that does not rely upon body parts taken from innocent children killed through abortion.”

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Media Contacts:
Chieko Noguchi or Miguel Guilarte
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