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December 12, 2011 | Volume 87, Number 3






– Necrology


Foreign-born priests deserve warm welcome

The CV article about foreign-born priests in the Diocese of Richmond (Nov. 28 issue) was of great interest to me.

Both of the priests at my church, St. Joseph Parish in Bon Air, Richmond, are from Canada. One cleric does have the advantage of speaking English as a first language, but the other, who is from Quebec, is faced with the task of speaking it as a third or fourth.

I must say that I admire the courage he demonstrates while taking on the challenge. It takes considerable bravery to address a congregation each week and to converse with parishioners in a language that is not one’s own.

When I was in France a number of years ago, my attempts at speaking French yielded some spectacularly embarrassing results. There was the time at a family dinner when I meant to inform the hostess that I was no longer hungry. Instead, I ended up announcing to the whole room that I was pregnant.

There were cultural issues as well. Curiosity about my nationality ran high, and someone once demanded to know, “Where is your cowboy hat?” (For the record, I did not have one.)

Worse questions included “Why are you on this pilgrimage? Americans don’t walk. They drive,” and “You are American. Why aren’t you fat?”

Those experiences have made me mindful of the difficulties our foreign priests face. Catholics should be patient and grateful as Christ’s shepherds from abroad labor on our behalf.

Welcome to Virginia, shepherds of Christ. We are so glad you are here.

read the article »

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St. Paschal Baylon aids African mission

What an inspiration! I recently visited St. Paschal Baylon Church, South Boston, to facilitate an acculturation workshop for the parish leadership, presented via Skype by Sister Katie Pierce.

At the conclusion of the session, the gathered folks couldn’t wait to show me pictures of St. Paul, a mission church in Kassunga, Lukaya Parish, in Uganda, Africa, where their own pastor’s brother serves as parish priest.

The people of St. Paschal’s had adopted St. Paul as the “Kassunga Mission Project” and embarked on a fund raising mission to help their far away neighbors construct and complete the church that they so desperately needed.

How did this happen?

When their new international Priest/Pastor, Father John Kazibwe first arrived, the parish wanted to learn more about his family and history. In informal conversations with parishioners, stories of Father John’s family and the circumstances of some Catholic churches in Africa came to light.

Soon the story of the Kassunga Mission church was brought before the Parish Pastoral Council and the people of the parish.

Worshipping under a makeshift tent, the people of Kassunga dreamed of a permanent building and had begun construction when they lost their beloved pastor in a motorcycle accident. Left with an unfinished structure and no pastor, they had to abandon the church building project.

It remained abandoned for more than 20 years. St. Paschal’s was so moved by the sincerity of their own beloved Pastor, Father John, in generously serving them, as well as two other parishes, St. Catherine of Siena and Good Shepherd, that they chose to respond to the Kassunga Mission’s needs.

In just over one year, St. Paschal’s parishioners raised over $25,000 to enable the people of Kassunga to complete construction of their NEW church, St. Paul’s!

graphic: rules for sending letter to editorNot content with this accomplishment, the St. Paschal Baylon community also provided funds to help furnish the church with necessary liturgical vessels, vestments and other items.

The dedication of St. Paul’s Kassunga Mission Church will be attended by Father John Kazibwe and some members of St. Paschal’s next August!

I was already so excited for St. Paschal’s who had piloted the Gift program for developing and sustaining Adult Faith Formation and since have established flourishing Adult Faith Formation.

Now, through God’s grace, I am humbled and honored to share in this tremendous story of generosity and friendship for another Catholic community in another country. God bless St. Paschal’s abundantly!!

read the article »

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50th anniversary of Vatican II set in 2012

With all of the passion and furor beginning to stir over next year’s national election, I hope that an incredible event in church history will not be lost in the shuffle.

Next fall is the 50th anniversary of Vatican II! How well I remember the transition from the impersonal, foreign (literally) and mysterious weekly ritual of the Mass to a warm, loving and relevant celebration of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ!

The church doors were flung open and the walls embraced us much as the loving arms of Jesus, as he was described over and over in the Gospels.

Pope John XXIII was truly a prophet in his own day, recognizing the troubled times that lay ahead and gently turning the giant ship back around toward the “spirit of the law” and away from the “letter of the law.”

The words of Scripture danced to life and, for me, “faith” became a verb instead of a simple noun. The word “church” no longer meant a building with elite folks in clerical garb; it rightfully began to mean — again — the body of people who choose to follow Jesus, imperfect yet made worthy by His sacrifice.

I know that plans are being made from Rome to farthest outreaches of Catholics around the globe to teach and remind us of that great council that gathered 50 years ago. I hope that our diocese has some great plans in the works as well!

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Next World Youth Day set in Brazil in 2013

Starting in 1985 in Rome by Pope John Paul II, the Holy Father has invited youth and young adults to gather periodically with him across the world in an epic event known as World Youth Day.

While its official title is a “day,” it is really a week long life changing experience of the diversity and richness of the Catholic Church. This past summer, Pope Benedict XVI invited youth and young adults from across the world to the 12th World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain.

The Diocese of Richmond organized a pilgrimage to Madrid for a group of 25 participants which joined the roughly 1.5 million pilgrims from around the world

Tiffany Palmer from St. Anne’s in Colonial Heights said her highlights were “daily Mass and getting to see the Pope, meeting the priests and bishops, and learning more about the faith and getting to meet people from all over the world!”

Adding to Tiffany’s experience, Dillon Bruce, from St. Francis of Assisi in Staunton said the highlight of the entire experience for him was, “Adoration with 10,000 people.”

The next World Youth Day will take place July 23-28, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. For the second time, the Office for Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults will organize a pilgrimage for youth and young adults in the diocese. Official pilgrimage costs for World Youth Day 2013 will not be final until January 2012. However, the Office for Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults expects the cost to be approximately $3500 per pilgrim which includes air travel, lodging in 3-4 star hotels/hostels, and admission to all World Youth Day events. This cost will be offset by diocesan and individual fundraisers.

Rio de Janeiro will be the site for some major international events in the near future such as the UN Earth Summit in 2012, the World Cup in 2014, and the Olympics in 2016. This means that the city infrastructure will be equipping itself to handle efficiently a large number of people for an event such as World Youth Day.

Any youth or young adults considering a deeply enriching pilgrimage experience are encouraged to begin fundraising for this opportunity. Please contact the Office for Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults for additional information by email at or by phone at 804-622-5159.

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