Browsing News Entries

UNICEF: 23 million children under 5 suffer from acute malnutrition

A UNICEF report shows the reality and the effects of the acute malnutrition children and infants around the world are suffering from.

Holy See recalls Durban Declaration, condemns racism and intolerance

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher sends a video message to mark the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration, which sets out measures to combat racism, intolerance, and xenophobia.

Spain's lower house advances bill that would criminalize pro-life witness near abortion clinics

A 40 Days for Life prayer vigil outside an abortion clinic in Madrid. / Twitter 40 días por la vida.

Madrid, Spain, Sep 22, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

The lower house of Spain's legislature voted Tuesday to take up consideration of a bill proposed by the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party that would criminalize “harassment” of women entering abortion clinics.

The Congress of Deputies advanced the bill by a Sept. 21 vote of 199 to 144, with two abstentions. Only the two largest opposition parties, the People's Party and Vox, voted against it.

The bill was introduced May 21 by the PSOE’s coalition. It would criminalize "harassing women going to clinics for the voluntary interruption of pregnancy." Anyone promoting, favoring, or participating in demonstrations near abortion clinics would be subject to penalties.

Penalties for what would be deemed harassment would include jail terms of three months to a year, or community service from 31 to 80 days. Depending on circumstances, an individual could also be barred from a particular location for between six months and three years.

In the exposition of motives for introducing the bill, the PSOE characterized the “harassment” of pro-life witness at abortion clinics as “approaching women with photographs, model fetuses, and proclamations against abortion … the objective is for the women to change their decision through coercion, intimidation, and harassment.”

The socialist parliamentary group said it “considers it essential to guarantee a safety zone” around abortion clinics.

During debate on the bill, María Teresa Angulo Romero of the People’s Party criticized it for penalizing "fundamental rights such as freedom of speech or assembly because what underlies is a sectarian limitation of rights because of the ideas of those who exercise them,” reported ABC, a Spanish daily.

“You don’t want to penalize supposed coercion, if so, your proposal would be unnecessary because the Penal Code already covers coercion. You want to prohibit the right of assembly or free speech where and by whom you don’t like,” the PP lawmaker said.

She also spoke of the "dubious constitutionality" of the bill that seeks to "criminalize the right to peaceful assembly or free speech" of pro-life groups "just because they don't think like” the socialist government of Pedro Sánchez.

Vox member María Ruiz Solás said that the PSOE is “legislating at the behest of abortion clinics" and “criminalizing” pro-life groups whose “only wish is for women to know that there are other options than abortion,” according to ABC.

“Have the gatherings of the pro-life groups prevented women from entering the clinics? If this happened, there would be complaints and convictions and there aren’t any. Not one. Defending an idea is not coercion,” she asserted.

Sara Giménez Giménez of Citizens, another opposition party, pointed out that the proposal doesn’t have “enough legal certainty” and stressed that abortion “is not a constitutional right,” although in the end her party voted in its favor.

One outreach the bill could ban is Life Ambulance, which offers “a free ultrasound in front of the abortion clinic to show the mother the reality of her child and the heartbeat of her baby.”

The president of the Spanish Family Forum, Ignacio García Juliá, said the bill is an ideological measure which reinforces the law of the strongest, and a protectionist measure of a very particular oligopoly.

The group also said that the bill “not only protects spurious interests not based on the common good, but also channels it through the power of the State, curtailing fundamental rights, such as the freedom of speech or assembly of all citizens, since any of them could go to an abortion clinic to chat tranqilly and to offer their support to the woman who is considering an abortion.”

Thus "fundamental rights for the existence of a free and democratic society" are diminished, the pro-life organization said.

Bishop José Ignacio Munilla Aguirre of San Sebastián on Twitter encouraged people to share a video that shows a young child tenderly cuddling a baby sibling and singing a nursery rhyme "as a fitting response to the gag law that aims to eliminate in Spain any form of pro-life presence in the vicinity of abortion clinics.”

Several locales have in recent years considered or adopted “buffer zones” around abortion clinics that limit free speech in the protected areas.

Pro-choice activists in 2020 called on the Scottish government to ban prayer and public discussion of abortion in the vicinity of the country’s abortion clinics.

Proposals for buffer zones around abortion clinics throughout England and Wales were rejected as disproportionate by the then-British Home Secretary in September 2018, after finding that most abortion protests are peaceful and passive.

Sajid Javid said that after reviewing the evidence, which included “upsetting examples of harassment … what is clear from the evidence we gathered is that these activities are not the norm, and predominantly, anti-abortion activities are more passive in nature.”

The typical activities of those protesting outside of abortion clinics in England and Wales “include praying, displaying banners and handing out leaflets,” Javid noted.

In England, a buffer zone was imposed by Ealing Council, in west London, around a Marie Stopes abortion clinic in April 2018. The zone prevents any pro-life gathering or speech, including prayer, within about 330 feet of the clinic.

The Ealing buffer zone was cited by Javid as an example of a local government using civil legislation “to restrict harmful protest activities,” rather than a nationwide policy.

Shortly after the Ealing buffer zone was adopted, Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth said that “to remove from the environment of the abortion clinics alternative voices is to limit freedom of choice … The imposition of ‘no-prayer zones’ outside clinics – I mean prayerful vigil, not militant or disruptive action – is unhelpful, unjust and unnecessary,” Bishop Egan said.

Catholic leaders call for better treatment of Haitians, other migrants at border

Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington (left) and Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities, USA (right) / Catholic News Agency (left) and CCUSA (right)

Washington D.C., Sep 22, 2021 / 16:02 pm (CNA).

Catholic leaders on Wednesday called for better treatment of Haitians and other migrants crowded under a bridge at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We call on the U.S. government to reassess its treatment of migrants in Del Rio and elsewhere along the U.S.-Mexico border, especially Haitians, who face life-threatening conditions if returned to Haiti and possible discrimination if expelled to third countries,” stated Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee, and Sister Donna Markham, OP, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA.

They said they were “saddened to see such a disregard for human dignity” on the border.

Thousands of migrants have crowded under the international bridge in Del Rio, Texas in recent days, at the U.S.-Mexico border. Many of the migrants are from Haiti and reached the border through Mexico and Central American countries. Some told reporters they left Haiti years ago and moved north to the United States, citing diminished employment opportunities where they were.

The Biden administration, in response, has said it is bringing more federal personnel to the border, is continuing to expel asylum-seekers under Title 42 authority, and is placing other migrants in immigration removal proceedings. Under Title 42, the administration can expel certain individual asylum-seekers due to health concerns from the ongoing pandemic.

“We have reiterated that our borders are not open, and people should not make the dangerous journey,” stated Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, at a Sept. 20 press conference in Del Rio. 

“If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned.  Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family's lives,” he said. Mayorkas added that DHS is providing water, towels, portable toilets, and emergency medical technicians to deal with the surge in migrants.

According to some federal officials, many Haitian migrants are being released into the United States and are not being turned away or deported at the border – although they still have notices to appear at an immigration office in 60 days, the Associated Press reported.

In response, the USCCB on Wednesday said that the increase in federal personnel and closure of the border, as well as deportation flights for the migrants in Del Rio, were unacceptable. The conference said that Haiti has been rocked by a presidential assassination, an earthquake, and a tropical storm in recent months.

 “Policies such as Title 42 and expedited removal all too often deny the reality of forced migration, disregard the responsibilities enshrined in domestic and international law, and undermine the vulnerability of those against whom they are applied,” Dorsonville and Markham stated. “These are not hallmarks of a ‘fair, orderly, and humane’ immigration system.”

“After all, it is in the face of each migrant that we see the face of Christ,” they said.

Haiti has been granted Temporary Protected Status, a designation allowing migrants to stay in the United States for 18 months if conditions in their home countries are too dangerous to return. However, the status only applies for Haitian migrants who have resided in the United States since July 29.

Photos and videos circulated on social media this week of federal agents on horseback allegedly holding whips to keep migrants at bay, but Mayorkas clarified this week that agents use reins, not whips to control their horses. One video showed an agent apparently whipping his reins as he tried to deter a migrant child, although it is unclear if the agent was only whipping the side of his horse, and the reins did not land anywhere near the child.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday cited the “horrific video” showing Border Patrol agents using “brutal and inappropriate measures against innocent people.” The agents involved had been placed on administrative leave, she said.

Psaki referred reporters to the Department of Homeland Security for updated numbers on migrants who had been deported, processed, or allowed to stay in the United States.

Psaki on Wednesday explained that expulsions continue under Title 42, and that others who cannot be expelled under the policy but have no legal basis to remain are placed in removal proceedings.

This story incorrectly stated that viral footage showed Border Patrol agents "whipping" migrants. The story has been updated to more accurately reflect the footage.

Share God's love, don't just lament lack of faith, pope tells bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) ─ Bishops and others in the Catholic Church often lament the declining number of Christians, but rarely do they examine their own behavior and failure to show others how much God loves them, Pope Francis told the presidents of European bishops' conferences.

"Consider how many people no longer hunger and thirst for God! Not because they are evil, but because there is no one to awaken in them a hunger for faith and to satisfy that thirst in the human heart," the pope said Sept. 23 as he concelebrated the opening Mass of the plenary assembly of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences.

"So many people are induced to feel only material needs, and not a need for God," the pope told his brother bishops during the early evening Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica.

"Certainly, we are 'preoccupied' by this, but are we really 'occupied' with responding to it?" Pope Francis asked.

"It is easy, but ultimately pointless, to judge those who do not believe or to list the reasons for secularization," the pope said. Instead, "the word of God challenges us to look to ourselves. Do we feel concern and compassion for those who have not had the joy of encountering Jesus or who have lost that joy? Are we comfortable because, deep down, our lives go on as usual, or are we troubled by seeing so many of our brothers and sisters far from the joy of Jesus?"

The plenary of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences brought together the presidents of 33 national bishops' conferences and a dozen other Eastern- and Latin-rite bishops from across the continent. The meeting Sept. 23-26 was to celebrate the council's 50th anniversary and review its service to the continent in the light of Pope Francis' encyclical, "Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship."

After the Mass, the bishops were to renew their profession of faith at the tomb of St. Peter and pray at the tombs of St. Paul VI, Pope John Paul I and St. John Paul II -- the popes who accompanied the early years of the council's existence.

Using the images of rebuilding homes and the temple in the day's first reading from the Book of Haggai, Pope Francis said in his homily that just as the ancient Israelites had to "stop being content with a peaceful present and start working for the future," so must the people of Europe.

The founders of the European Union "did not seek a fleeting consensus, but dreamed of a future for all," the pope said, and only that kind of farsighted vision can ensure a consolidation of peace, freedom and solidarity on the continent.

"The same is true for the church, the house of God," he said. "To make her beautiful and welcoming, we need, together, to look to the future, not to restore the past."

Of course, Pope Francis said, any idea of "rebuilding" the church must begin with the church's foundation, "the church's living tradition, which is based on what is essential, the Good News, closeness and witness."

"We need to rebuild from her foundations the church of every time and place, from worship of God and love of neighbor, and not from our own tastes, not from pacts or deals that we make to 'defend the church' or 'to defend Christianity,'" he said.

In the reading from Haggai, he noted, the verb form of "rebuild" is plural -- a call to all the people.

"All rebuilding takes place together, in unity, with others," Pope Francis said. "Visions may differ, but unity must always be preserved. For if we keep the grace of the whole, the Lord keeps building, even when we fall short."

"This is our vocation as pastors: to gather the flock, not to scatter it or to keep it enclosed by fine fences," he said. "Rebuilding means becoming artisans of communion, weavers of unity at every level: not by stratagems but by the Gospel."

The challenge is huge, the pope said, because so many Europeans see religious faith as "a relic from the past."

The reason, he said, is that "they have not seen Jesus at work in their own lives," and "often this is because we, by our lives, have not sufficiently shown him to them."

"If Christians, instead of radiating the contagious joy of the Gospel, keep speaking in an outworn intellectualistic and moralistic religious language, people will not be able to see the Good Shepherd," the pope said. "They will not recognize the one who loves each of his sheep, calls them by name, and bears them on his shoulders."

"Jesus does not ask us to make arguments for God, but to show him, in the same way the saints did, not by words but by our lives," Pope Francis said.

May They Rest in Peace: Sr. Mary Conway, CSJ

Sr. Mary Conway, CSJ, entered eternal life on Sept. 14, 2021. 

Mary Theresa Conway was born in Kilkenny County, Ireland, on Nov. 28, 1932, the daughter of William and Mary (O’Shea) Conway. She was a member of St. Joseph’s Parish in Lake Orion, Michigan at the time of her entrance into the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth on July 1, 1952. She received the name Sister William Marie at her reception on Jan. 3, 1953, but later returned to her baptismal name. She pronounced first vows on Jan. 3, 1955, and final vows Jan. 3, 1958.

A funeral Mass was celebrated and live-streamed from Holy Family Chapel at Nazareth Center, Kalamazoo, on Friday, Sept. 17, at 10 a.m.
Sr. Mary Conway, CSJ

Sister Mary attended St. Rita High School and then graduated from Nazareth College in 1967 with a degree in History. She began her ministry in teaching at St. David’s in Detroit, Michigan. For the next several years Sister Mary taught in several Michigan schools: St. Joan of Arc in St. Clair Shores, St. Joseph in Lake Orion, and then at Holy Maternity in Dowagiac. She was an educator as well as Principal at St. John Justin’s in Hazel Park, and St. Elizabeth in Wyandotte. 

Her love of teaching and working with children led her to several other schools in the Dioceses of Detroit, Kalamazoo and Lansing including St. John Bosco, St. Elizabeth, St. Mary and St. Therese. Sister Mary also taught Religious Education at St. Mary House of Prayer in Pinckney, Michigan. From 1980-2002 Sister Mary taught grades 5-6 at St. Veronica’s in Eastpointe, Michigan before becoming a tutor/volunteer at the Dominican Literacy Center and as a Spiritual Care Assistant at St. John Senior Community both in Detroit, Michigan. In June, 2011, Sister Mary retired and moved to Nazareth Center, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Sister Mary’s smiling countenance welcomed all. She was very proud of her Irish heritage. Despite leaving her country of origin as a young teenager, she faithfully kept up with the news from Ireland via the internet. She cherished family members and kept in close contact with relatives around the world by letter-writing and phone calls. In community, she stayed involved and supportive. Many lives were touched by her kind service. One never heard a judgmental word from her. She worked hard and was a very selfless person. A most positive and prayerful woman, Sister Mary had great devotion to the Eucharist and to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She spent countless hours before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration, intercession and praying the rosary. Surely now she enjoys intimate companionship with her Beloved Lord and his blessed Mother.

A funeral Mass was celebrated and live-streamed from Holy Family Chapel at Nazareth Center, Kalamazoo, on Friday, Sept. 17, at 10 a.m. EST followed by burial in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Nazareth Center, Kalamazoo.

A ‘favorite son’ among 28 inductees welcomed into the CHSL Hall of Fame

CLINTON TOWNSHIP  A “favorite son of the Catholic League was among 28 inductees welcomed into the CHSL Hall of Fame during its recent 46th Banquet. 

In his introduction of John Wangler as recipient of the league’s highest honor, the Person of the Year, Catholic High School League Director Vic Michaels saidThis favorite son of the Catholic League is currently one of  our most prominent, prayerful, and supportive people in our history.” 

The Hall of Fame selection committee had acknowledged Wangler in 1981 for his  outstanding athletic achievements aRoyal Oak Shrine High School and the University of Michigan. 

“John has done enough for Catholic League schools,” Michaels said, “to be included in Person of the Year discussions every year since 2009That was the year that John secured Adidas through his company, Top Cat Sales, to become the Catholic League’s biggest sponsor.” 

 Wangler said his life as a Catholic began with baptism at Visitation Parish in DetroitThe family moved to Royal Oak where he attended Shrine grade and high schools for 12 years. 

“That was where I learned about giving back, he said. 

He described Fr. Edward Prus (pastor at Shrine 1969-1987) as “a saint” for how he would ride around the neighborhood on a bicycle and hand out bread and stop to talk to the kids. 

When the gym needed glass backboards, his mother started a concession stand to raise the money for them. His dad was always helping out in the Dads Club. 

They were tremendous examples of giving back,” he said. 

He singled out his coaches – Don Sicko in basketball, Jim MacDougall in football, Lou Miramonte in track  (all in the Hall of Fame) – for their emphasis “that we would be good human beings and give back. Great mentors.  

The thing about the Catholic League to me, “Wangler said, “is that it’s always been about tradition and excellence and service and faith and combining all those in competition. 

He concluded: “I’ll always forever be a supporter of the Catholic League. It molded me and  made me who I am. I believe in the education and values  and life lessons that are taught in the Catholic League.   

“Thank God I can be a small part of the tradition of giving back.” 

About 300 persons attended the banquet Sept. 13 at the Fern Hill Country Club to celebrate both 2020 and 2021 inductees. The 2020 banquet had been cancelled due to pandemic concerns. 


Mary Laney, Dearborn Divine Child  Laney has coached basketball at Divine Child since 2004. Her record of 245-143 includes the 2012  CHSL girls title and the 2011 Class B state championship. She is one of only three women in Michigan to win a state championship as a player (1993 and 1994and as a coach – and the only woman to accomplish this at the same school.  

“I thank God for giving me a passion for the game and an opportunity to do what I love . . . in an environment that  I can live my faith and share with my  athletes, something that is more and more important each passing day,” Laney said. 

Lorrie Kusch, Detroit University of Detroit Jesuit – She coached skiing at Mercy for 18 years, then currently for 24 years at U-D Jesuit. “What a wonderful experience it’s been coaching teenagers.  One I will never forget when I was coaching at Mercy. It was a state regional meet. One of the girls came up to me and said, ‘Coach, I’m so nervous I don’t know if I can do it.’  I said, ‘Just relax. You’ll do fine. This isn’t the Olympics.’ She said, ‘Well, this is the closest I’ll ever get.’” 


Aaron Babicz, Novi Detroit Catholic Central  He has been athletic director at Catholic Central since 2008. During his tenure, the Shamrocks have won 28 state championships and 59 Catholic League titles.  

 “Iwe can continue to keep faith at the forefront and  kids and relationship-building and love at the forefront, then the league will continue to be the greatest league in the countrfor years to come. I feel this league sets the standard for the rest of the leagues in Michigan, Babicz said. 


James Briggs  Briggs currently officiates volleyball, football, basketball, baseball and softball.

“(Former CHSL director) Mr. Walt Bazylewicz, when I was 18, gave me a chance to work in the Catholic League. I’ve been doing it for 42 years. I am happy to be in the Catholic League, I went to school in the Catholic League (Redford St. Mary), and I enjoy everything about the Catholic League, Brigg said. 


Jackie Feldman  For 28 years, she has been the Special Events Director of the Prep Bowl that has allowed thousands of student-athletes and educators to be properly honored on the Catholic League’s biggest stage. She is the fifth member of her family to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The others were her late husband (Marian AD) Dave Feldman, her father Bernie Wouters, her uncle Hank Wouters, and her son Davis Feldman. 


Tommy Apap (Detroit U-D Jesuit 2017)  At Michigan State, he was voted the hockey teamOutstanding SeniorCurrently, he is playing for the Indy Fuel in the East Coast Hockey League, a Chicago Blackhawks affiliate.  

Caite Baron (Farmington Hills Mercy 2017)  Caite played soccer at Xavier as a freshman before transferring to Grand Valley State University where she helped the Lakers win its 14th straight GLIAC tournament title.  

Riley Blair (Dearborn Divine Child 2015) --  In four seasons at Ferris State, she averaged 13 points a game She currently is a nurse in the Grand Rapids area.  

Mike Danna (Warren DeLaSalle 2016)  As a defensive end, Danna was drafted  by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020 and played in Super Bowl LV. He signed a three-year $3.295 million contract in 2021.  

DeMarco Dickerson (Detroit Loyola 2015 After two outstanding seasons at Siena Heights, he signed this summer to play in the Swedish Basketball League.  

Dillon Dixon (Detroit U-D Jesuit 2014) --  At Saginaw Valley Universityas a defensive back, he was named to the All-GLIAC honorable mention team.   

Davis Feldman (Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 2016)  At Eastern Michigan, he was named to the MAC all-conference teamThe righthander is pitching this fall for the Lexington Legends in the Atlantic League.  

Colleen Grombala (Bloomfield Hills Marian 2017)  At John Carroll,  she was the university’s first lacrosse player to be named All American. She received BS in Exercise Science in 2020 and Masters in Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2021.  

Conner Huggins (Livonia Ladywood 2016)  Playing soccer at Villanova, Conner appeared and started in all 74 games through her senior season. She was named to the 2019 All-Big East Tournament Team. 

Matthew Johnson (Ann Arbor Fr. Gabriel Richard 2016 Playing lacrosse at  Indianapolis University, scoring 75 goals and 57 assists in a 56-game careerhe was selected an All American honorable mention. He majored in nursing.  

Karl Kauffmann (Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 2016 At Michigan, he set a school record o130.2 innings pitched in a single season. Karl was selected in the second round of the 2019 MLB draft by the Colorado Rockies. Currentlyhe is pitching for the Hartford Yard Goats, a Rockies affiliate.  

Sammy Kleedtke (Farmington Hills Mercy 2017)  At Wisconsin playing soccer, she was named a second-team All-Big Ten defender. She is pursuing a degree in computer sciences and computer engineering.  

Gregory Leatherwood (Detroit U-D Jesuit 2016 A defensive tackle at Ferris Statehe was a member of the Bulldogs' 2018 and 2019 GLIAC Championships. Gregory anticipates completing a masters degree in spring 2022 and applying to dental school. 

Christopher Okoye (Novi Detroit Catholic Central 2014 330-pound defensive tackle at Ferris Stateifour years he helped the Bulldogs achieve a 45-7 overall recordHe was selected to Ferris States All Decade Football Team. 

 Gina Paterson (Macomb Lutheran North 2015) – A long-distance runner at Grand Valley State, Gina won All American recognition at 3,000m, 5,000m and 10,000mShe plans to pursue a master’s degree in  physician assistant studies at Trine University. 

 Brandon Piwinski (Warren DeLaSalle 2015)  A high-jumper at Michigan, in his senior year, he cleared a career-best 7-feet-half-inch for the win at the Simmons-Harvey Big Ten InvitationalHe is currently studying chiropractic medicine.  

Brianne Rogers (Livonia Ladywood 2017 As a midfielder on the Ferris State soccer team, she has earned first team all-conference honors four times. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree at Ferris.  

Nathan Schoenle (AA Fr. Gabriel Richard 2016)  At Michigan, he was a walk-on wide receiver for the Wolverines, becoming a four-time letter winnerHe is enrolled in the Ross School of Business pursuing his degree in business administration with a minor in entrepreneurship.  

The Catholic League has done an incredible job introducing me to helping others and introducing me to Jesus. Making me a full person. It makes me think of a quote by Mother Teresa: ‘We are  called not to just be successful but to be faithful.’  I think as long as the Catholic League is creating people to be  both successful and faithful we creating leaders in our church and in the world and in our community,” Schoenle said. 

Alaina Skellett (Farmington Hills Mercy 2017 At Miami University, she broke her own school record in 200-yard backstroke with time of 1:56.21 and qualified for 2020 U.S. Olympic Time TrialShe is majoring in biology. 

Cassius Winston (Detroit U-D Jesuit 2016)  One of the most celebrated athletes in Catholic League history. Among honors he received at Michigan State: Big Ten Player of the YearAll-American and the John R. Wooden Award All-American Team. He is in his second season with the Washington Wizards of the NBA. 

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected] 

‘Remember Me’ services offer families a way to memorialize loved ones (PHOTOS)

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — On Saturday, Sept. 18, thousands of people got a chance to say goodbye to loved ones who died during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic during special memorial services at five Metro Detroit Catholic cemeteries.

The services, called “Remember Me,” were developed by the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services (CFCS) in conjunction with the Mt. Elliott Cemetery Association and St. Hedwig Cemetery in Dearborn.

Names of the deceased were read aloud at some of the ceremonies, while other locations opted for other forms of remembering loved ones, such as a photo wall or flower displays. Overall, CFCS received nearly 600 names to be read or remembered at their events.

Read more of Detroit Catholic’s coverage here | Photos by Rosa Maria Zamarron

Oregon parish plans to pray, keep watch in case of Columbus Day vandalism

PORTLAND, Ore. (CNS) ─ In anticipation of possible vandalism by anarchist and/or Antifa groups over Columbus Day weekend, members of Holy Redeemer Parish in North Portland plan to pray in eucharistic adoration and keep watch on church grounds the nights of Oct. 8-11.

The FBI reached out to several local Catholic churches vandalized this summer so staff and parishioners could be on alert.

"We don't want to engage in any kind of confrontation, but we believe that by being present we can be a deterrence," said Holy Cross Father Pat Neary, pastor of Holy Redeemer. "If anyone comes aggressively onto campus, we will contact the police."

Columbus Day, observed Oct. 11 this year, is a federal holiday, but some localities, including Oregon as of this year, recognize the day as Indigenous Peoples Day.

In 2020, protesters organized what they called "Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage" and engaged in acts of destruction in downtown Portland the night before last year's holiday, Oct. 12. The police declared it a riot.

Another "Day of Rage" is being promoted on social media this year, and the FBI is concerned that churches recently vandalized could be targeted. Four Portland Catholic parishes were vandalized this summer, though the motives in some instances are unclear.

The vandalism at Holy Redeemer, however, has been classified as a bias crime, also known as a hate crime, by the FBI. In the early hours of July 12, the church's doors were spray-painted with an obscene critique of colonialism and an anarchist symbol.

FBI agents told Father Neary that anarchist and Antifa groups traditionally have targeted banks and other institutions but that they've started to vandalize churches as well. Agents believe the new focus may be tied to the discovery earlier this year of more than 1,000 unmarked graves at former residential schools for Indigenous children in Canada. Most of the schools were operated by the Catholic Church.

"As offensive as the vandalism was, I believe the individuals thought they were serving the good, making an important statement," Father Neary told the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland. "At the deepest level I don't think they were motivated by evil, though the manifestation of their views were misguided and not appropriate."

October is designated Respect Life Month by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and organizers of the "Weekend of Prayer and Vigilance" at Holy Redeemer felt it was a fitting time to pray for victims of injustice as well as those who inflict injustice on others.

From 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. Oct. 8-10, the church will be open for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

"Jesus told us -- pray for those who persecute you, pray for your enemies," said Father Neary. "Sometimes I think we forget to do that, to confront injustice through love."

With prayer will come practical action. The plan is for groups of four volunteers to take two-hour shifts from 10 p.m. to 6 p.m. over the four nights scheduled for the watch. The parish is finalizing protocols, but Father Neary reiterated the goal is to deter, not engage.

FBI agents said if there are people on a property and good lighting, groups are less likely to inflict destruction.

There will be sandwiches and breakfast bars for night-watch volunteers, and groups will make rounds on church and school grounds at designated intervals.

This planned night watch won't be the first preemptive act intended to thwart wrongdoing at the North Portland church. The most dramatic situation was nearly 100 years ago and involved the Ku Klux Klan.

At the turn of the 20th century, the KKK had experienced a major revival across the United States, and by the early 1920s nationwide membership had reached more than 2 million.

Oregon ─ where residents were predominately native-born white Protestants ─ soon became home to the largest contingent of the organization west of the Mississippi River. Along with Black individuals, Catholics were among their targets.

One night in 1926, a ruse was in the works to damage the newly built Holy Redeemer Church. "Klansmen, who were in cahoots with the fire department, planned to send out fire trucks to the parish," presumably as a distraction, Father Neary said. "The plan was for the fire trucks then to depart and the Klansmen to come in on their heels."

But there was a Catholic ally in the department who tipped off a parishioner. When the KKK arrived, 21 feisty, rifle-wielding parishioners were ready.

No shots were fired, but the warning was sufficient. The Klansmen bolted.

"I'm not advocating this approach," said Father Neary with a laugh. "But now is not the first time the parish has responded to threats."

Regarding this October's upcoming night watch, the priest said that volunteers have been signing up from both inside and outside the parish community and the weekend of vigilance and prayer is bringing people together.

"In an interesting way, God brings grace out of everything," Father Neary said.

- - -

Scott is special projects reporter at the Catholic Sentinel, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland.

May They Rest in Peace: Sr. Frances Chirco, IHM

Sr. Frances Chirco, IHM, died Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021 at her home, the IHM Senior Living Community. 

Frances Pauline Chirco was born Jan. 5, 1928 to Italian-born parents, Salvatore and Eva (Cipriano) Chirco. With her three brothers, young Frances attended St. Catherine grade and high schools, graduating in 1945. She entered the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Monroe and received the religious name Sister Mary Pierre.  

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, services will be private at the IHM Motherhouse Chapel on Friday, Sept. 24.
Sr. Frances Chirco, IHM

Early teaching experience began in Michigan at Sacred Heart (Dearborn and Roseville), St. Matthew and Holy Trinity (Detroit), Immaculate Heart (Glenn Lake) and St. Joseph and Hall of the Divine Child (Monroe). Her own education included a bachelor’s degree from Marygrove College and a master’s degree from the University of Detroit.

In 1969, Sister Frances was missioned to Puerto Rico and taught at Santa Teresita (Santurce) and Colegio Regional de Ponce (Ponce). She always shared her interest in mission work and helping the poor, improving the lives of those to whom she ministered. She tutored non-English-speaking students so they may have greater success in their studies. She returned to Michigan in 1973, spending the year teaching at East Catholic High School (Detroit). 

Her later career focused on parish ministry and religious education in Spanish-speaking communities, first for several years at Cristo Rey Center (Fremont, Ohio) and for ten years at St. Isidore (Macomb, Mich.). 

For many years after, Sr. Frances pursued adult outreach in education, Hispanic, and pastoral ministries at Sacred Heart (Roseville) and St. Catherine and Our Lady of Grace (Detroit). When living in Roseville, she cared for her elderly mother until her death at age 100. Sister Frances then “retired” and moved to Sebring, Fla., where she volunteered in pastoral and hospital ministry at St. Catherine parish, and often taught course in English as a Second Language.  

Sister Fran is survived by brother Joseph, niece and nephew, and her sisters in community. She was preceded in death by her brothers Peter and Sam.   

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, services will be private at the IHM Motherhouse Chapel on Friday, Sept. 24. The services will be Livestreamed beginning at 10 a.m. and may be viewed until Oct.15, 2021. A Green Burial will follow in St. Mary Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of the Rupp Funeral Home. Memorials may be made to the IHM Retirement Fund, 610 W. Elm Ave., Monroe, MI 48162-7909.

Obituaries for clergy and religious who have lived or served in the Archdiocese of Detroit may be emailed to [email protected] Obituaries are printed as they are submitted, but may be edited for grammar and style. Detroit Catholic reserves the right to refuse or edit any submissions.