Msgr Sebastian Francis (left), vicar general of Melaka-Johor diocese, has been appointed Bishop of Penang, succeeding Bishop Antony Selvanayagam (right). The episcopal ordination is set for Aug 20.
JOHOR BAHRU, MALAYSIA – Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Msgr Sebastian Francis, the current vicar general of Melaka-Johor diocese, as the new Bishop of Penang.
The Vatican made the announcement on July 7.
Msgr Francis, 60, succeeds Bishop Antony Selvanayagam, 76, whose resignation Pope Benedict XVI accepted on the same day.
Under Canon Law, bishops are to request retirement upon reaching the age of 75.
Bishop Selvanayagam has headed Penang diocese, which has 28 parishes, since 1983.
Bishop-elect Francis’ episcopal ordination is to be held at the Church of St Anne in Bukit Mertajam, Penang, on Aug 20 at 5 pm.
Commenting on his appointment, he said, “I am just a servant of God. The Lord has chosen me to work in the diocese which covers five states in Peninsular Malaysia and with some 65,000 Catholics.”
He said he pledges to work towards making Christ better known to the people he will serve as their fifth bishop.
IRO confers award on archbishop: Recognised for contribution to interfaith harmony in Singapore
VATICAN CITY – The majority of bishops’ conferences in the Americas, Europe and Asia have complied with a Vatican mandate to draw up anti-abuse guidelines, said the Vatican’s top investigator of clerical sex abuse.
Without counting Africa, “more than half of the conferences responded” by the May deadline, Msgr Charles Scicluna of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in an interview with the Italian monthly Catholic magazine, Jesus.
All those who did not send in their proposed guidelines would be getting “a letter of reminder”, he added.
The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, quoted from the interview on July 10 and said that the congregation received an encouraging number of responses from Anglo-Saxon countries, “but also Europe, Asia and Latin America have high percentages of responses”.
While the result is gratifying, Msgr Scicluna said in the interview that Africa “has a particular situation with great difficulty in Church structures”, presumably referring to the lack of needed communications and other infrastructure that help a nation’s bishops draw up national policies.
Runners wear T-shirts with a quote from Jeremiah at the back
WASHINGTON – How far would you go to defend life? Life Runners in the US would go about 26.2 miles (42.2 km) a race.
Founded in South Dakota by running partners Pat Castle and Rich Reich, Life Runners has been promoting Catholicism and the pro-life movement through marathons in some of the nation’s biggest cities since 2008.
Mr Castle said Life Runners came out of a prayer group the two men co-founded in 2007, called Life Group Devotions. They decided to create an “action arm” of their ministry.
“We started with devotions from the beginning and then it dawned on us. We are training and running marathons, and we are looking for a pro-life ‘action arm’,” Mr Castle told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview.
“There was none, I mean zero, organised pro-life teams represented in marathons.”
The programme at Boys' Town is geared to bring out the best in boys from disadvantaged or troubled backgrounds.
A CASUAL observer might not associate Boys' Town, best-known as a home for troubled youths, with a rigorous emphasis on education.
But Dr Roland Yeow, its deputy director, says: "Our promise is, you' ll get an education ... we're hopeful these kids can go back to school to be successful."
Dr Yeow is himself an example of this ethos. A former secondary school drop-out, he spent two years at Boys' Town. Now 35, he returned to work there eight years ago, after obtaining his doctorate in organisational management.
Boys' Town, a charitable institution founded by the Brothers of St Gabriel in 1948, is a member organisation of Caritas Singapore.
Keep an open mind and heart to the strangers among us, says Alice Nah
OUR societies are undergoing rapid change. Our shops are stocked with an increasing number of goods assembled and transported from all over the world.
The films, television shows and documentaries we watch bring us into the lives of other people and places. Our tastes – in music, art and food – are evolving as we are more exposed to different cultures.
Such change can be liberating. Such change can also bring fear – fear that our fundamental values will be challenged, that the newcomers in our communities will have what is ours, that there will not be enough space or jobs for everyone.
We may like travelling abroad and experiencing life elsewhere but we also become cautious when foreigners come and stay with us.
God is not opposed to the movement of people. He instructed Abram (before he was renamed Abraham) to leave his country, his people and his father’s home and to settle permanently in a foreign land (Genesis 12:1).
Sr Stella Matutina has been detained by the military and threatened in the course of her work. CNS photo
DAVAO, PHILIPPINES – Environmental activism is a dangerous vocation in the Philippines, but a Catholic nun in Mindanao is defying those who want her to return to her convent and stop raising her voice in defence of creation.
Benedictine Sr Stella Matutina works in Mindanao, the most conflictive island in the southern Philippines. Now 44, she spent 18 years studying and doing pastoral work in Europe before returning to Mindanao in 2007, when she says she quickly realised an environmental crisis was at hand.
“In the landslides and flooding and deaths, I could hear the cry of the poor and the groaning of creation, but our government was deaf.
WHEN the great pianist Vladimir Horowitz, who had in effect been exiled from communist Russia, returned to his homeland for a concert, he was 83. The concert hall was sold out. But people gathered outside and opened windows, sat on curbs and sidewalks, and wept as the music poured.
The American painter known as Grandma Moses didn’t begin producing her distinctive New England scenes until well into her 70s when severe arthritis prevented her from pursuing her first art form: needlework.
The poet Anne Porter, who died last year, published her first book of poetry in her early 80s. The book was nominated for the US National Book Award. Porter continued to write for many years.
These examples highlight the long life expectancy of individuals engaged in creative endeavours. Something similar can happen in long marriages.
How does a marriage survive and improve with time, asks Mary Eileen Andreasen
OLDER couples must have a secret. Their marriages defy the odds and they are often examples of generosity and kindness for several generations.
What do they know that we don’t?
I watch older couples with fascination, hoping for insight. I need to learn from them. I’ve been married for more than 30 years and an empty nest faces us.
Kids have a way of distracting you from your marriage by their wild noisy chaos. These days, there’s no distraction. It’s just us. I’ve already vacuumed three empty bedrooms and shut the door. Our child is graduating from high school this year and the house is falling silent.
How does a long marriage survive and improve with time?
I know a good marriage is the union of two good givers and forgivers, and, of course, I’ve learned that marriage is so much more than glamour and sexuality.
I wish to thank Archbishop Nicholas Chia and the Senate of Priests for coming up with a document that encourages the congregation to act on their dressing for Sunday Mass.
Encouraging is his statement, “The Catholic Church is a universal Church, embracing all peoples, cultures and nations. The Catholic community is an inclusive and welcoming community”.
The archbishop reminds us that “the sole criteria” at Sunday worship is “our response ... at a sacred celebration where Our Lord is present...” and that is to honour Him.
Muslim-based welfare organisation Pertapis and Catholic Welfare Services joined hands in providing food packages and cash to 500 needy families recently.
Of these families, who received assistance during the July 14 Care & Share event held at Joo Chiat Complex, 30 were under the care of Catholic Welfare Services (CWS).
Beneficiaries received a month’s supply of household provisions such as rice, sugar, sardines, Milo, coffee, tea and instant noodles.
They were also given some cash to cover taxi fare as the food supplies made up three large plastic bags.
Young people who attended a youth conference organised by the Church of St Anthony say they have benefited greatly from it.
“I have gained a deeper understanding of the word ‘love’,” shared 15-year-old Joel Tan.
“I learnt more about the Holy Spirit and learned to appreciate Him just as much as the other two persons of the Trinity,” said Brian Paulo, 16.
The two teenagers were among 90 young people from the parish who participated in the Dare to Love conference.
More than 80 diocesan priests together with a few Religious priests attended their annual retreat at the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary from July 9-13.
The retreat master, Dominican friar Timothy Radcliffe (above, left), preached on the theme, I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10).
Sharing personal stories and spiritual wisdom from years of living with Religious brothers in the Dominican community, Fr Radcliffe called on priests to live a simple, joyful life through commitment to serving their flock.
Medical students served Cambodian villagers during a recent trip conducted by ACTS
A group of medical students from the National University of Singapore and James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, went on a mission trip to Battambang, Cambodia recently.
Battambang is the third largest city in the country.
Led by Dr Gladys Wong and Dr Damian Png, coordinator for ACTS (A Call To Share) Cambodia, the June 29-July 5 trip was to determine the needs of the villages around the city and to assess what further support they needed.
ACTS, a multi-parish missionary group, is also exploring the feasibility of organising teams of surgeons to support the health-care system in Battambang province.
Meditation will help children discover the presence of Jesus in their inner being. They will then “experience the unconditional love of God, which in turn will give them the comfort and confidence to meet the challenges of life”.
Archbishop Nicholas Chia said this to about 300 teachers, parents and catechists during a forum titled The Gift of Peace – Christian Meditation and Sharing It with Children.
The forum, held at St Joseph’s Institution (Independent) on July 14, was organised by the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) Singapore.
About 170 couples took part in a Mass to mark Nativity Church’s 160th anniversary
Married couples who took part in a special Marriage Blessing Mass at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary said it was a meaningful and memorable event for them.
“It was a wonderful evening, reliving the wedding day,” said Mr Stephen Chye Tong, who has been married to his wife, Frances, for 21 years.
He said the renewal of marriage vows during the July 6 Mass, which was part of the church’s 160th anniversary celebrations, “brought back important and romantic memories”.
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