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Hurricane Ida changed, but didn't delay, couple's wedding plans

HOUSTON (CNS) –– Janella Jett and Byron Perrilliat planned to marry Sept. 3 in a New Orleans church where they grew up, but Hurricane Ida had different plans when it barreled into the region Aug. 29.

The couple, along with their families, headed to Houston with Jett's wedding gown intact.

"Byron and I have been friends throughout the years since going to school and church together. But it's just been the past few years that we realized we were on the same spiritual level," Jett told the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

The couple, both in their 40s, decided to get married in the church in their neighborhood until "a big hurricane started coming that way," Jett said.

So when they evacuated to Houston along with a line of traffic, they called the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to ask if they could still get married on Sept. 3.

Victoria Fontana Smith, administrative assistant for the Secretariat for Clergy Formation and Chaplaincy Services, connected several priests to the case to make sure the marriage documents were in order and even called the archbishop of New Orleans to confirm.

Archdiocesan officials in Galveston-Houston checked with priests who could officiate over the wedding on such short notice. Smith also checked with St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Houston, and ultimately Fr. Thuc Nguyen was tapped for the wedding Mass.

"Obviously, this was a special circumstance because of the hurricane," Smith said of the group effort involved.

And even then, it was a close call in hot, humid Houston. The couple was caught unaware in a flash flood on their wedding day.

"After all that, we were almost stuck in a flood on the outskirts of Houston. I prayed to God and said, 'please don't be joking with us,'" Jett said. "But we made it to the church on time!”

They celebrated with a brief honeymoon in Houston and then Atlanta before returning to New Orleans by Sept. 7 to review the damage to their homes.

"We have foundation and roof damage. There's still no power and long lines for everything from resources to ice and even running out of gas. But I can't complain," she said.

Perrilliat is a contractor by trade, so he will be working on the repairs.

"The church was so beautiful, and Fr. Thuc was so nice. We couldn't have asked for better. It was a perfect church wedding," Jett said.

Pope Francis says Benedict rightly warned against not respecting life

VATICAN CITY (CNS) –– Pope Francis praised his predecessor's courage in denouncing the danger of people no longer respecting or understanding the sacredness of human life.

Pope Francis highlighted retired Pope Benedict XVI's insistence that Europe's renewal comes through its respect for every human life.

The pope's remarks were part of an introduction he wrote for a new book, "The True Europe. Identity and Mission," which compiles selected texts by Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI on the theme of Europe. The book, currently in Italian, is one of a series of "selected texts" being published by Cantagalli press and coincides with the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the European Union.

Vatican News republished a copy of the introduction Sept. 12.

"Beyond the many words and grandiose proclamations, today, the idea of respect for every human life is increasingly lost in Europe, starting with the loss of awareness of its sacredness, that is, precisely from the obfuscation of the awareness that we are creatures of God," Pope Francis wrote.

"Benedict XVI has not been afraid over the years of denouncing with great courage and far-sightedness the many manifestations of this dramatic renunciation of the idea of creation" and its consequences, he wrote.

And yet, the retired pope also showed his hope and faith in knowing humanity will always be restless until they find God and discover his truth, Pope Francis wrote. He added that the volume clearly explains the current reality but without leaving the reader feeling pessimistic or sad.

On the contrary, Pope Francis said Pope Benedict explains the reasons for his hope, saying the desire and search for God is profoundly inscribed in each human soul and cannot disappear.

"Certainly we can forget God for a time, lay him aside and concern ourselves with other things, but God never disappears," Pope Benedict said in a 2012 interview, published in the book. "St. Augustine's words are true: We men are restless until we have found God. This restlessness also exists today and is an expression of the hope that man may, ever and anew, even today, start to journey toward this God." 

Pope Francis wrote this was the secret for how to have hope during these difficult times and "Pope Benedict XVI shows us the path to take for Europe's renewal.”

Archbishop installs Fr. Burr as seminary’s rector during Mass of the Holy Spirit

‘Look to the world with Christ’s loving gaze,’ new leader tells professors, seminarians and staff as Sacred Heart’s 102nd year begins

DETROIT  On Sept. 10, Fr. Stephen Burr was installed as the 14th rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary

And while he is tasked with having the vision to lead the school as it begins its 102nd year of operation, it is Christ’s vision, Christ’s perspective, and Christ’s mission that guides southeast Michigan’s Catholic seminary. 

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron celebrated Mass and installed Fr. Burr during a liturgy at Sacred Heart’s chapel, where Fr. Burr professed the faith and an oath of a fidelity to the teachings and magisterium of the Church.  

Archbishop Vigneron said it is Christ’s mission Fr. Burr is fulfilling — a mission, Fr. Burr said, he does not take lightly in leading the formation of the next generation of priests and leaders of the Church. 

“It’s a privilege to serve as the rector,” Fr. Burr said during his homily. 

Fr. Stephen Burr was installed as the 14th rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary on Sept. 10. Addressing the seminary community during a Mass to open the new academic year, Fr. Burr challenged Sacred Heart faculty and staff to look at their students with “Christ’s loving gaze.” (Photos by Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

The ministry, he added, is not a form of service he aspired to, but “in what is now my 14th year of active ministry at the seminary, I feel I know this building and most of you,” Fr. Burr said. “And I can promise in this role in ministry, I will care for all of you.” 

The annual Mass of the Holy Spirit served as a kickoff for the new academic year at Sacred Heart, where Fr. Burr previously served as vice rector under Msgr. Todd Lajiness. 

Fr. Burr used his homily to speak directly to the professors, staff, seminarians and students of Sacred Heart about their purpose at the seminary: to see the faithful with Christ’s eyes. 

Fr. Burr places his hand on the Gospels while making his profession of faith and oath of fidelity to the teachings and magisterium of the Catholic Church during his installation as rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary with Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron looking on. 

Fr. Burr preached on the seventh chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, in which Christ instructs his disciples to “remove the wooden beam from you eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” Fr. Burr implored the seminary community to look at each student and member of the community with a “loving gaze.” 

“Are we viewing ourselves and other individuals with a charitable gaze?” Fr. Burr asked. “Are we blind and prefer blindness in order not to address a gross reality? Are we harsh and overly critical in what we observe with our eyes? Jesus, in preaching to His gathered audience, shows us how pride is acting without love; it hurts others and harms us. Jesus doesn’t want us to trap ourselves with inflated egos. He wants us to see clearly.” 

Fr. Burr said it’s the seminary’s role to provide that vision of Christ to its students so they can fulfill his mission. 

Seminarians and professors listen to Fr. Burr’s address during the Mass of the Holy Spirit to open Sacred Heart’s academic year. 

“The clearest vision we can have of ourselves is through Jesus Christ,” Fr. Burr said. “He provides deep insight and self-knowledge into our lives. Seeing clearly with the vision of Jesus will show ourselves more clearly. St. Peter shows us this; he had every right to feel unworthy, falling at the feet of Jesus and saying, ‘Away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man,’ after the catch of fish that filled the boats. He felt unworthy of such a great gift. He was. And so are we.” 

That unworthiness is all the more reason for Sacred Heart to give God thanks and praise with a Mass to begin the new academic year, Fr. Burr said, allowing for staff, both returning and new, to re-orientate their mission to Christ’s mission.  

Following Fr. Burr’s installation, four new Sacred Heart professors — Fr. Stephen Pullis, Fr. Andrew Mabee, Oana Gotia, Ph.D., and Andre Villeneuve, Ph.D. — made a profession of faith and took an oath of fidelity to the rector, promising to uphold the doctrines and teachings of the Catholic faith. 

Fr. Andrew Mabee places his hand on the Gospels during his profession of faith and oath of fidelity to Sacred Heart Major Seminary rector Fr. Stephen Burr. Fr. Mabee and three other new professors made their oaths of fidelity during the Sept. 10 Mass.

Sacred Heart professors who knew Fr. Burr in his role as vice rector said he has the proper disposition to lead the seminary, particularly focusing on his calm, thoughtful demeanor. 

“Fr. Burr really always exhibited a great restfulness and composure and peace about his person,” Donald Wallenfang, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and theology at Sacred Heart, told Detroit Catholic. “I think he always makes you feel at ease when you are around him. He’s very pastorally minded and always thinking about the welfare of the seminary and its daily work.” 

Fr. John McDermott, SJ, professor of theology, has worked with Fr. Burr since the new rector was on the formation team. He said Fr. Burr has plenty of qualities that will help him in his new position. 

“It helps to be intelligent, but he’s also pious and patient, very observant,” Fr. McDermott said. “As a rector, he maintains the orthodox faith, and that’s really what professors look for in a rector. Fr. Burr takes things calmly, puts everything in its place and put everything in the perspective of God. He is here to serve the community.” 

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron celebrated Mass to begin the 102nd year of studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. 

Finishing his homily, Fr. Burr reminded professors and instructors in the congregation that when fully formed, students will become like their teachers, so it is incumbent upon professors and teachers to be filled with God’s mercy. 

“Tear down the beams in your own eyes and look with a gaze at your students, whom Christ has called you to see,” Fr. Burr said. “When we start the academic year, we’re called to observe the world, to notice the splinters, but to look within to pray for God’s mercy.” 

Watch the Mass

To view a recording of the Mass of the Holy Spirit at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, visit the seminary’s Facebook page

For Catholic veterans, 9/11 changed trajectory of their military careers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) –– On Sept. 11, 2001, Deacon John Krenson went to work like it was any other day. He walked into his business and his colleagues were glued to the television set following the first plane crash into the World Trade Center.

At the time, he was an officer in the Tennessee Army National Guard and he remembers saying after the second plane crashed into the other twin tower: "I don't know if it's going to be in two weeks, two months or two years, but I guarantee you, I'm going somewhere because of this."

Although he had been serving in the National Guard since 1986, his typical service included only one weekend a month, a few weeks of training in the summer, and some schooling. His only deployment experiences were to Panama and Bulgaria for training exercises.

"Service was just part of my life," he said. "It didn't consume much of my life, but that all changed after 9/11," he told the Tennessee Register, diocesan newspaper.

The anticipated deployment came in August 2003, when he went to Afghanistan to be a liaison with U.S. forces embedded with NATO forces. His deployment to Afghanistan lasted through May 2004, but he was deployed to Iraq in 2010.

Six years later, he retired from the National Guard but much about his year in Afghanistan still sticks with him.

When asked about the U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan this summer, he said he feels devastated and frustrated adding: "I feel we've abandoned our Afghan allies and people, especially the most vulnerable ones.”

He said the "veteran network has kicked into high gear," with people checking in on each other, calling or texting almost daily but now he is more worried about the Afghans.

"I don't think people realize how veterans feel about our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said. "We're not anti-Muslim. We've served with Muslims, and Muslims had my life in their hands many times in both countries. That means a lot to me, and I'm very, very worried for them.”

John Schuller, a retired chief warrant officer and a parishioner at Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksville, served in the Army from 1976 to 2006. Before 9/11, he said he was planning to retire, but when the planes hit the twin towers in New York, he knew his unit, 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, would be one of the first to deploy in response.

"We were out of the country by the beginning of October," Schuller said and his unit remained in Afghanistan until spring of 2002. He deployed three times to Iraq after that.

For him, the U.S. departure from this region "seems like our blood and treasure were wasted in the way that we left the (Afghans) without any support. It seems like we took an easy way out.”

"We left a lot of people we made commitments to," he said referring to Afghan interpreters and soldiers that the U.S. military "said we'd always be there for and we're not now. ... It's heartbreaking."

Schuller said his experience has pushed him more toward his Catholic faith.

"After my whole military service, I had some really bad times when I first got out of the military until I got the help I needed ... and belief in God and church helps me, too," Schuller said. "It forces me to look at the fact that I can't fix everything. I can't change it.

For now, he said: "All I can hope is that sometime in the future there is going to be some good come of it.”

As he learns to leave some things in God's hands, Schuller has been serving as a mentor to local veterans who have fallen into legal trouble after their service through the Veterans Treatment Court in the state.

Robin Vozar, also a retired chief warrant officer and parishioner at Immaculate Conception, served with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell, for the majority of his 37-year career, from 1983 to 2020, making him the longest-serving member of the Night Stalker unit.

Like Schuller, Vozar was used to deploying prior to Sept. 11.

Now, reflecting over the last 20 years, Vozar said, it is about making the right decisions as the fight against terrorism continues.

He said the Night Stalker Association, for which he is currently serving as president, works to honor the fallen members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

John Veltri, retired chief warrant officer also from Immaculate Conception Parish, served in the Army from 1985 to 2013.

He was in Saudi Arabia training with foreign militaries when the 9/11 attacks happened and said that right after that the entire unit packed up its equipment and deployed to a neighboring country in preparation for the invasion of Afghanistan.

During his years of deployments in Iraq, Veltri's career developed from being a grounds level operational element to serving mostly in the group headquarters in Iraq working on staff for resource operations, planning operations, informational data and more.

Today, he just hopes Americans recognize military services as an honorable one and one that is "a service of sacrifice for the greater good.”

Fr. Tettey Bleboo, a native of Ghana, was stationed in Germany as a U.S. Army chaplain at the time of the 9/11 attacks.

The priest, who became a U.S. citizen in the 1990s, was deployed to Afghanistan in 2003 and again in 2013. As part of the Chaplains Corps, his mission was to care for the wounded, to provide support by being present with soldiers and nurturing them in faith, and to honor the fallen.

"As Catholics, we have the sacraments. I would say Mass for the service members, strengthen them by the Word of God. That's giving them the inner strength to help them go on," he continued. "One thing about our military is the fact that we try to do the right thing. We try to do the right thing always, even when others don't follow.”

Chaplains recount ministry during 9/11 attacks in New York

WASHINGTON (CNS) –– As the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept 11, 2001, first responders of all kinds did all they could in the hours and days after the towers' fall to bring comfort and hope to those devastated by the terrorist act.

That included the chaplains.

During a Sept. 9 online presentation titled "[email protected]," sponsored by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, chaplains pressed into service on 9/11 recounted the dizzying array of demands that confronted them.

The Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, later to serve as U.S. ambassador at-large for international religious freedom, recalled in an introductory video being summoned to New York Police Dept. headquarters to meet with the families of police officers, as 26 officers had gone missing in action after the towers' fall.

"It was a day when there was no barriers," Rev. Cook said following the video. "There was literally no denominations. I remember praying with firefighters who were Catholic, and imams, who were just trying to find brothers and sisters lost in the rubble.”

Fr. Greg McBrayer wasn't a priest, but the terror attacks steered his destiny toward ordained ministry.

He was a flight dispatcher for US Airways that day. He recalled getting to his job at 4:45 a.m. that day, as a lot of flights were moving from Florida to the Northeast. "The weather was beautiful," he remembered, using flight jargon to describe it as "severe clear.”

"What we heard was that there was a light aircraft making contact with one of the towers," Fr. McBrayer said. But "before the second tower was hit, we knew an attack was going on. ... We tried to contact airplanes, trying to get them on the ground. And it went as good as it can be expected. It had never been done before.”

As out-of-the-ordinary as 9/11 had been, "the next day truly reshaped my life. I went in the next day. There was a deafening silence in that room. I recall seeing the fear and the anxiety in the faces of my colleagues in that room," Fr. McBrayer said.

"I remember crying out to God that day, 'Lord, we need you here terribly.' I remember hearing God say, 'That's why I placed you here.' It redirected the course of my ministry, to put faith in the workplace.”

After seminary studies and ordination, Fr. McBrayer returned to work for American Airlines, which had merged with US Airways, to work with employee resource groups to deal with traumatic events as they arise.

The attacks were indeed "horrific," said the Rev. Dave Miller of the Princeton Faith and Work Initiative. But because of the attacks, he said, "the city changed. Anger turned into forgiveness. Anger turned into love. Despair turned into hope, and the racial and social divide turned into one big family.”

Rev. Miller stayed at ground zero for nine months. His base was St. Paul's Chapel, part of the Episcopal Church's Trinity Chapel complex on Wall Street not far from the attack site, but suffered no discernible damage from the towers' collapse. "Some people called it dumb luck. Some called it a miracle. Some called it 'the little chapel that could,'" he recalled.

Part of his job was to bless found bones and body fragments when they were brought into the chapel by first recovery crews before they were bagged and sent to the morgue.

Rev. Miller recalled one day when he was physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. "I was too tired to even pray for my own energy," he said. He spotted some barricade tape. "I sort of kicked at it. It did not say 'Police, do not cross.' It said 'God at work.’

"'God at work,'" he repeated. "I was stunned. Here we are in the middle of this crime scene. I paid attention to that word. God is at work in the place even if we don't see that in this horror. God's active, God's busy in the place of work.”

Sept. 11, 2001, was a Tuesday. "The very following Wednesday lunchtime service was called 'Wonderful Wall Street Wednesdays,'" Rev. Cook recalled. "As we looked out, it looked like what Christians should be: every socioeconomic group, every race, every creed were packed in this church.”

She added, "They came in traumatized ... eyes huge, 'we can't go on.' But they left another way. The underlying factor that made a difference was faith," Cook said. "Faith took center stage.”

First responders, those who died on 9/11 remembered by USCCB president

WASHINGTON (CNS) –– The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recalled the heroic deeds of first responders and security forces during the Sept. 11 attacks around the country on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the day's harrowing events.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles also remembered those who lost family members and friends at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in rural Pennsylvania and said those who died are memorialized in prayer on this anniversary.

"We pray for the innocent lives that were lost, and we pray for those who grieve, and for the many who still bear the wounds from these attacks, physical, emotional and spiritual," Archbishop Gomez said in a statement released by the USCCB Sept. 10.

The first responders that day "gave their lives in the service of their neighbors," he said.

"This violence, borne of worst evil in the human heart, also brought out the best in our humanity. We think today of the courage and generosity of countless ordinary people and the spirit of unity and authentic patriotism we saw in the days after these attacks," the statement said.

"We honor the dead by the way we live. And today we pray for a new spirit of national pride and unity. May God inspire in all of us to seek fellowship, reconciliation and common purpose.”

The archbishop also asked God "to bring comfort to those who mourn and peace to every heart that is consumed by hatred, and may he bring peace to our troubled world.”

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori, who also issued a statement about the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, said: "We were changed by what happened that day. Those terrible events would rend our hearts and minds, forever changing our understanding of what it is to be safe and free.”

"We remember those who lost their lives. We pray for the eternal repose of their souls," the archbishop said. "We also recall the ongoing toll the attacks took on so many lives and the immeasurable suffering borne by family members and friends to this day.”

He also urged people to recall "how the worst of tragedies brought out the best of us: the courageous and selfless service of first responders and emergency workers who heroically risked their lives to save others, and the ways both great and small that we banded together as a nation to care for and support one another.”

Archbishop Lori said the 9/11 anniversary should remind people of the gift of unity and also said it "should not take a tragedy such as these terrorist attacks to bring us together.”

Amid the current divisions in the nation and world, he said that maybe "remembering 9/11 will prompt us, through God's grace, to a renewed commitment to building up the unity of the human family."

He also recalled the words St. John Paul II shared just after the attacks, saying they "still move us today.”

"Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail," the pope said at the time, "those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it.”

A volleyball showdown: No. 2 Notre Dame upsets No. 1 Marian

PONTIAC — Before her Fighting Irish volleyballers took the court Wednesday evening for a highly anticipated match against Bloomfield Hills Marian, coach Betty Wroubel said, “You know, they’ve got a lot of height. They’re much taller than we are” — and she held her hands about a foot apart.

On deck was an early showdown between two state powerhouses: Defending Division 1 champ Marian, ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 5 nationally, and Notre Dame Prep, No. 2 in Division 2. 

After the match, those hands were raised sky high in jubilation over her girls’ 25-20, 19-25, 25-15 victory.

“We’ve been talking from Day One about mental toughness,” Wroubel said. “We played probably as well as we could. We gave it our best shot. This kind of win motivates us to keep working harder.”

“I think this loss was good for our team,” Mustangs coach Mayssa Cook philosophized, “especially against a good team. They played their ‘A’ game. We probably played our ‘C’ game.”

The first set was tied at 4-4 and again at 15-15. Notre Dame’s defense time and time again stymied Marian’s offense. The Mustangs’ frustration was reflected in that they committed 17 unenforced errors.

“We served very, very well and took them a little bit out of their system,” Wroubel said. “We thought if we could get them in a long rally, we could win that rally. We made some tremendous saves to keep the ball in play.”

Marian regrouped in the second set behind the firepower of Ava Brizard’s five kills and four in a six-serve stretch by freshman Izzy Busignani to build a 19-11 advantage and set the stage for a third and deciding set.

About Brizard, committed to North Caroline State: the 6-foot-1 outside hitter with a howitzer for a right arm has started her senior year and fourth year on the varsity with 1,536 kills. She had 13 against the Irish in this game, but what had the crowd oohing and aahing were several shots that liberos Allison Berent and Josie Bloom coped with. “How they were able to stand on their feet was something,” Wrobel said.

From a 1-1 tie to start the third set, Notre Dame methodically built a 15-11 lead, then outscored the Mustangs 10-4 the rest of the way for the win. 

For Marian, senior Sophie Treder had 13 digs and junior Ava Sarafa 25 assists.

For the Irish, senior Josie Bloom had 19 digs, senior Sophia Sudzina 10 kills and Bianca Giglio 8. Senior Alyssa Borellis served 12 points to go with 5 kills and 11 assists.

The Marian-ND Prep match was the sixth played in the quad meet. Earlier, Notre Dame beat Flint Powers Catholic 25-6, 25-11 and Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 25-10, 25-13 to raise their record to 21-0.

Marian beat Stoney Creek 25-8, 25-10 and Powers Catholic 26-9, 25-16. The Mustangs are 14-1 for the season.

Powers Catholic defeated Stoney Creek 25-21, 25-20.

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].

Priest-doctor in Haiti says violence threatens country's future

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CNS) –– Violence in Haiti not only complicates earthquake relief, it threatens the future of the country, said the U.S. priest-founder of a medical mission and orphanage in Haiti.

"Everyone without exception is at risk," Passionist Father Richard Frechette said of the security situation in Haiti.

"Haiti has become a bandit state in the face of the inability of the Haitian government to govern," he told Catholic News Service. "The future is bleak, and Haitians want to leave Haiti. It will be an enormous effort and investment to turn things around."

He said Haiti's government-led negotiations with gang leaders to allow for transit of aid after the Aug. 14 earthquake was short-lived. The magnitude 7.2 earthquake killed more than 2,200 people, according to Haiti's Civil Protection Agency, and emergency response to the region has been slow due to safety concerns along with shipping complications and Haiti's overall crippled economy.

At the end of August, gang leaders –– including Jimmy Cherizier, a former Haitian national police officer who is wanted in several massacres and goes by the name "Barbecue," reportedly pledged to allow humanitarian aid to pass between Port-au-Prince and Haiti's southwest, where the quake occurred.

"The truce is with one gang at the road to the south –– the only land route to the earthquake-affected areas; the truce is no longer respected, and that gang is calling for the resignation of the (Haitian) prime minister," said Fr. Frechette, a medical doctor serving as president and executive director the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti near Port-au-Prince.

But the violence is not just along the routes from Port-au-Prince to the southwest. Throughout Haiti, the priest told CNS by email, there are currently gangs engaged in killing, kidnapping and banditry, especially in metropolitan Port-au-Prince.

In Cap-Haïtien, in the north, Fr. Andre Sylvestre, a priest who founded an orphanage, was robbed and killed by gangs after completing a bank transaction, media reported.

Fr. Frechette told CNS part of his foundation's ministry "is to bury the destitute dead, at our own hospitals and from the Missionaries of Charity and city morgue.”

"Picking up the dead on the streets is done with some regularity since it is not uncommon to find dead on the streets from gunfire, accidents and sickness. When there is a massacre, it is a question of picking up multiple dead.”

Fr. Frechette is also president of NPH Haiti/St. Damien Pediatric Hospital, the only hospital in Haiti that treats childhood cancer.

More than half of all patients at the hospital are admitted for infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV, while 25% are admitted for noninfectious diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and kidney infections. Most patients admitted are also malnourished.

Fr. Frechette points out the damage from the 2021 earthquake is mostly hidden off-road, hard to reach, and largely unattended to in rural and farming areas, whereas the 2010 earthquake was largely urban and paralyzed the entire county. But following the Aug. 14 quake, St. Damien's "took in limited numbers (of earthquake victims) because we have a major COVID-19 center and did not want to expose earthquake victims," the priest said.

"We have had two COVID peaks: April to July of 2020 when we received 1,500 patients at our center, and May to August of 2021 when we received 1,800 patients at our center. During these peaks we had 100 functioning COVID beds," Fr. Frechette said. "In between and currently we have 15 functioning COVID beds. Not many children were affected (by COVID-19).”

Vaccines have been available in Haiti since July 2021, but they are largely ignored by the population, the priest added.

Haiti has suffered a series of crises beyond the pandemic, earthquake and violence. On July 3, Tropical Storm Elsa tore off roofs, downed trees and flooded farms. Four days after the storm, 28 foreign mercenaries, including specially trained Colombian soldiers, assassinated President Jovenel Moïse, creating a vacuum in the country's governance.

‘Not lost in vain’: Two decades after 9/11, archbishop, religious leaders honor fallen 

Archbishop Vigneron, rabbi and imam offer prayers during memorial hosted by Department of Homeland Security on Detroit’s Riverfront

DETROIT — On a morning similar to the crisp, sunny dawn that broke over New York City two decades ago, about 200 people gathered on the Detroit Riverfront to pay tribute to the fallen, honor the victims and first responders and pledge never to forget the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Joined by Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders, most of those in attendance were service personnel — including members of the Detroit Police Department, firefighters, Border Patrol, federal agents and various branches of the military. 

In a spirit of unity and prayer, Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron offered the morning’s opening invocation, standing in a plaza beneath Detroit’s Renaissance Center, with the Detroit River behind him.

Archbishop Vigneron prays as members of various service branches, local law enforcement and first responders gather along the Detroit Riverfront on Sept. 10 for a memorial service on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. 

“Lord God, as we commemorate this day, Sept. 11, as a time for remembrance and resolve, we ask you to hear us,” Archbishop Vigneron prayed. “In your presence, Lord, we remember those who were victims of terrorism on that dreadful day. Those who died, those who were injured or wounded in body or spirit, and those whose loved ones are among the victims, we entrust anew into your hands, there to find safety and healing beyond what the world offers.”

Archbishop Vigneron also paid tribute to the first responders “who put themselves in harm’s way,” praying that they were sustained “by the sure knowledge that their sacrifices were pleasing in your sight, and continue to be held in high honor by us.”

Along with Imam Hassan al-Qazwini of the Dearborn Heights-based Islamic Center of America and Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, the archbishop prayed for a rejection of violence in the name of religion, as well as to “refrain from blaming the many for the actions of the few.”

Imam Hassan al-Qazwini of the Dearborn Heights-based Islamic Center of America prays as a bell used to toll a moment of silence for the victims of 9/11 is pictured in the foreground.

Echoing the words of Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Ground Zero in 2008, Archbishop Vigneron asked God to guide and comfort those who continue to mourn 20 years after the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

“Grant that those whose lives were spared may so live, that the lives lost may not have been lost in vain,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “Comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign among the nations.”

The remembrance service began at 8:46 a.m., the same time the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center, with a singing of the national anthem by Karen Newman, voice of the Detroit Red Wings.

A joint honor guard displayed presented the flags of the United States and various service branches, and were bagpipes played to remember those lost. 

A joint honor guard carries the flags of the United States, Department of Homeland Security and several service branches during a ceremony on the Detroit Riverfront in downtown Detroit. 

Among the morning’s other speakers were Detroit Deputy Mayor Conrad Mallett and acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin.

Deputy Mayor Mallett, the son of a Detroit Police officer, reflected on the fact that since 2001, the city has lost 10 police officers and 12 firefighters “in the same way that we commemorate today: because they rushed toward the danger. They ran into the building. They gave their lives so we could have the quality of life that we enjoy today and every day.”

The 2,977 victims were as “diverse and multicultural as America herself,” said Mohsin. 

“They hailed from 58 different countries. They were Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics and Muslims,” Mohsin said. “They held different political views and ideologies. They represented our core values.”

A United States Border Patrol agent stands guard as service personnel prepare to place ribbons on a memorial wreath, in front of which sits a piece of metal recovered from the World Trade Center’s north tower in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. 

“They were not soldiers, but innocent men, women and children who were targeted because of their innocence,” she added. 

Mohsin specifically mentioned Fr. Mychal Judge, a Catholic priest and New York fire chaplain who died ministering to the injured, praying over the dead and encouraging his fellow firefighters as the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. 

“He is regarded as the first official death of the Sept. 11 attacks,” Mohsin said. “His selflessness is legendary. May we all be more like him in our willingness to serve those in need.”

Other speakers commemorated those who died in the Pentagon and aboard United Flight 93, which crashed into a Pennsylvania field as its passengers prevented further disaster by attempting to wrestle control the aircraft away from the hijackers. 

A wreath upon which service personnel placed ribbons prepares to be sent into the Detroit River aboard a boat as a U.S. Border Patrol agent gives a final salute. Moments later, two helicopters from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security flew over the river and those gathered. 

After the speeches were concluded, those gathered observed a moment of silence as members of the Department of Homeland Security and other personnel placed ribbons on a memorial wreath, placed above a piece of scrap metal from the North Tower of the World Trade Center. 

As Taps was played, the wreath was then handed to the U.S. Coast Guard and driven to the middle of the Detroit River, where it awaited a flyover by two helicopters from the Department of Homeland Security. 

Pope meets unusual pilgrim carrying message of hope for refugees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) –– When pilgrims pass through Rome along their long trek, they do not always get to meet Pope Francis much less get an "undersized" handshake.

But "Little Amal," an 11-foot puppet who is on a 5,000-mile pilgrimage from the Syrian border through eight countries to the United Kingdom, got to offer the pope her enormous hand, which he welcomed by grasping one finger.

Supported by her puppet masters and surrounded by hundreds of kids in the Vatican's San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, Little Amal arrived in Rome Sept. 10 after leaving the Syrian-Turkish border July 27. She was due to reach Manchester in early November.

Little Amal represents an unaccompanied 9-year-old Syrian refugee girl who is looking for her mother and hoping to start a new life.

"Will the world let her?" "How will you welcome Amal?" are some of the questions being asked of those who encounter her, according to organizers who want to highlight the vulnerability and the potential of displaced children and unaccompanied minors fleeing war or hardship.

According to the project's web site,, she is 11 feet tall (3.5 meters) "because we want the world to grow big enough to greet her. We want her to inspire us to think big and to act bigger," said Amir Nizar Zuabi, the artistic director of this unique outdoor "public art project" called "The Walk" and starring Amal, whose name means "hope.”

Everywhere Little Amal goes, hundreds of communities and individual artists welcome her with organized projects, festivals and cultural performances of music, theater and dance. The aim is to tell the stories of those who are often marginalized, feared or pitied and help promote dialogue and collaboration, according to the website.

A giant puppet is seen as Pope Francis waves during an audience with activists raising awareness about unaccompanied refugee minors, at the Vatican Sept. 10, 2021. The activists were making a 5,000-mile pilgrimage from Syria with the puppet in the lead. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Cardinal Michael Czerny, undersecretary for migrants and refugees at the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, welcomed Little Amal in St. Peter's Square, together with representatives of the Diocese of Rome, Rome's Caritas, volunteers and kids, who came together to make a kite.

In his greeting, the cardinal said the Bible says, "Do not forget hospitality; some, practicing it, have welcomed angels without knowing it.”

"It is up to us to welcome and protect (migrants and refugees) as the first essential steps toward promoting their integral human development, which is the kind of future we all want," he said.

Then, to see the pope, Little Amal joined hundreds of kids who are part of the national Caritas Italy project "APRI," which, since it began in 2020, has welcomed and integrated more than 600 migrants and refugees into local communities.

Little Amal will cross the same waterways and cities countless other migrants travel, carrying the message, "Do not forget about us," and galvanizing support for safer passage and integration for refugees.

Made by the Handspring Puppet Company, Little Amal was crafted from molded from natural cane and carbon fiber by dozens of artists, and she needs four puppeteers to help her come to life, including animating her eyes and face.

People can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram at walkwithamal, and Twitter @walkwithamal.