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with a mix of pride and regret

28 Jul

Catholic Relief Services is the international outreach and assistance arm  of the United States Conference of Catholic bishops.

As they celebrate their 52 years of existence, CRS thanks you for your commitment, courage and solidarity.

They approach their anniversary with a mix of pride and regret: pride in all the hard work and achievement, regret that our mutual dreams have not yet been realized.

They, and we, walk and work toward the day when, enshallah, God willing, there will be a just, genuine and lasting two-state solution in the Holy Land.


8:30 am Milford – and – 3:30 pm Beit Jala

8 Feb

Mass has been celebrated in Cremisan valley every Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in a prayer-protest of a proposed new section of what is called a separation wall by the Palestinians and a security fence by the Israelis. Whether it is for separation or security, it is definitely a wall, and not a fence, in this section of the structure that divides Beit Jala and Jerusalem.

Earlier in January Father Ibrahim Shomali, the pastor of Annunciation Catholic Church in Beit Jala, celebrated the Mass in the cold and snow, after an unusual snowfall a couple days before.fr_ibraheem 2

We see on the altar a blue-green pottery chalice. Father Shomali has used this chalice for the weekly Mass ever since June.

We brought it from Cincinnati as a gift to him and the parish. So, after we used it when we celebrated Mass in that olive grove in Cremisan valley on the edge of the town of Beit Jala in the Bethlehem-area, we left it behind, so that they might remember us in prayer as we remember them in prayer. ibrahin snow bend over 7

Today – Friday, February 8 – will be the last day that Father Shomali will celebrate Mass in that olive grove before the final decision of the Israeli government.  A final decision of the Israeli Court will be handed down on February 12. Will Israel take control of the Cremisan valley? Or will the Cremisan valley remain in the hands of the Palestinians?

PRAY. At 8:30 a.m.(Milford time) pray in solidarity with Father Ibrahim and the people of Beit Jala as they celebrate Mass at 3:30 p.m. (Beit Jala time).

ACT. As urged by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, sign the petition that will be taken to Israeli authorities in protest of the proposed building of this section of the wall.

8 days since I added my signature

7 Feb

Cremisan: will they lose again?

13 Nov

If the separation wall gets built as planned by the Israeli government in the Cremisan Valley on the outskirts of Beit Jala (Bethlehem), it will be disastrous for the local people. Fifty-eight (58) Christian families from Beit Jala depend on the olive groves on that land for their livelihood. Special needs children and the nuns in their convent school will be virtually cut off from each other. On top of that , this is the only green space that is left in the area for the people of Beit Jala, and it is a crucial source of water for the farmers.

The Bishops of the Holy Land have condemned the planned route of the wall, “Cremisan green area is the main lung through which the population of Bethlehem can breathe. Besides, the 450 children attending the Salesian Sisters’ school will have to go to a prison-like school, surrounded by military barriers and check-points. The planned construction of the wall will put more pressure on the remaining Christians living in Bethlehem. Without an income and a future for their children, more people will make the decision to leave the Holy Land.” The Bishops of the Holy Land have taken the case to the Israeli courts. A decision will come down soon.

The Bishops of the United States, through Bishop Richard Pates’ letter to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, have joined their voices, speaking against the Israeli plan to re-route the separation barrier between Israel and Palestine through the Cremisan Valley, saying that the plan would “harm 58 Christian families whose livelihoods and living conditions depend on these lands” and “cut families off from agriculture and recreational lands, other family members, water sources, and schools – including depriving Christian Palestinian youth of fellowship with their peers. Moving the wall and disassociating Palestinian families from their lands and livelihoods will incite more resentment against the State of Israel among residents of the West Bank, not less, increasing the frustrations that can lead to violence.” 

My friends in Beit Jala, our Christian brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, fear that, once again, what little they have left will be taken away from them.

Tomorrow’s blog: Mass in Cremisan olive grove.

a 5th that might be a part of your 4th

4 Jul

The 1st might be a part of your 4th of July. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th will probably be a part of your Independence Day. May I suggest that you also treat yourself to a 5th – no, not that kind of a fifth, but the 5th as described below?

1st – Prayer: try the “Litany for Liberty” or the “Mass prayers for July 4: Independence Day

2nd – Flag: wear it , fly it, carry it, salute it, see it, hold your heart in front of it, pledge allegiance to it, sing under it

3rd – Hot Dog: grill it, burn it (that’s the way it’s good), bun it, mustard (up the courage to eat) it, and enjoy it like a kid, whether you grill out or grill out inside

4th – Fireworks: set them off, watch them, ooh and aah over them, be annoyed by them or be  irritated by them, just don’t burn yourself or anyone else with them

5th – Look up the meaning of “unalienable” in at least two places: You know, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Don’t assume you “know” what “unalienable” means. Look up two definitions or read two reflections about the word – and then ponder whatever stirs up within in you as ponderable.

Mass Prayers – July 4: Independence Day – in the Dioceses of the United States

4 Jul


Father of all nations and ages,

we recall the day when our country

claimed its place among the family of nations;

for what has been achieved we give you thanks,

for the work that still remains we ask your help,

and as you have called us from many peoples to be one nation,

grant that, under your providence,

our country may share your blessings

with all the peoples of the earth.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.


Prayer over the Offerings

Father, who have molded into one our nation,

drawn from the peoples of many lands;

grant, that as the grains of wheat become one bread

and the many grapes one cup of wine,

so before all others be instruments of your peace.



It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,

always and everywhere to give you thanks,

Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,

through Christ our Lord.

He spoke to us a message of peace

and taught us to live as brothers and sisters.

His message took form in the vision of our founding fathers

as they fashioned a nation

where we might live as one.

His message lives on in our midst

as our task for today

and a promise for tomorrow.


Prayer after Communion

May the love we share in this Eucharist, heavenly Father,

flow in rich blessing throughout our land

and by your grace may we as a nation

place our trust in you

and seek to do your will.

Through Christ our Lord.

Litany for Liberty

1 Jul


Christ the Lord has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Let us turn to him in humble but fervent petition,

seeking the grace to root out from our hearts all trace of darkness,

and all that holds us back

from walking in the full freedom of the children of God.

As Christ is our great model for that inner freedom,

which enables us to do the right,

let us turn to him with confidence

that we, too, may follow him to the fullness of spiritual freedom.


Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy; Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy.


Jesus, victor over sin and death… Free our hearts.

Jesus, source of light and hope… Free our hearts.

Jesus, fullness of truth and mystery… Free our hearts.

Jesus, teacher of seeking hearts… Free our hearts.

Jesus, healer of body and soul… Free our hearts.

Jesus, bringer of mercy and justice… Free our hearts.

Jesus, who humble the heart and mind… Free our hearts.

Jesus, release of captives… Free our hearts.

Jesus, voice against violence… Free our hearts.

Jesus, courage for the lowly/downtrodden… Free our hearts.

Jesus, origin of all authority and power… Free our hearts.

Jesus, true lawgiver… Free our hearts.

Jesus, unity of order and passion… Free our hearts.

Jesus, freedom of the Spirit… Free our hearts.

Jesus, obedient Son of the Father… Free our hearts.


For the freedom to love… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to believe… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to hope… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to worship… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to serve in charity… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to care for the suffering… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to comfort the sick… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to feed the hungry… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to shelter the homeless… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to proclaim the Gospel… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to walk in chastity… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to live in peace… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to work in good conscience… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to stand in solidarity… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to seek justice… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to reject sin… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to reject coercion… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to reject falsehood… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to reject evil temptations… Give us your grace.

For the freedom to reject injustice… Give us your grace.



O God, who gave one origin to all peoples

and willed to gather from them one family for yourself,

fill all hearts, we pray, with the fire of your love

and kindle in them a desire

for the just advancement of their neighbor,

that, through the good things which you richly bestow upon all,

each human person may be brought to perfection,

every division may be removed,

and equity and justice may be established in human society.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God for ever and ever.



(C) United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

C-D at BU

31 Jan

During a Holy Land pilgrimage with a group of 50 archdiocesan priests Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York visited Bethlehem University.

Catholic News Service reports the visit in their online “New York cardinal-designate: Bethlehem U. helps build culture of peace.”

While at the university, the priests met with students who told about their experiences as Palestinians.

“Opportunities for work in Palestine are very limited,” noted third-year accounting and business administration student Christina Jueejet, 20, of Beit Sahour, West Bank. “There are a lot of educated people, but not enough jobs. We can only look for jobs in a limited area, in the West Bank, not even in Jerusalem.”

Father Andrew Carrozza of St. Ann’s Parish in Yonkers, New York, said he was humbled listening to the students’ experiences and struggles to receive an education, including having to go through checkpoints and border crossings to get to school. It made the priests take stock of everything they had taken for granted during their own college studies, he said.

U.S. Bishops Express Solidarity with the Church of the Holy Land

23 Dec

In a letter sent to His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed solidarity and ecclesial communion with the Church of the Holy Land.

December 22, 2011

Your Beatitude:

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, the great Feast of the Incarnation of our God into human history, our thoughts turn to Bethlehem as did the shepherds and wise men of two millennia ago. A vulnerable Child was born in a stable, a Child whose death was sought by King Herod. In a special way, the Christ Child symbolizes the vulnerable community of today that bears His Name.

Our Conference of Bishops is acutely aware that the Churches of the Middle East are caught in situations of conflict and violence that have put enormous strains on the ancient Christian presence there.

As you have frequently affirmed, the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict needs a two-state solution: a recognized and secure Israel living alongside a viable and independent Palestinian state. We are also mindful of the suffering of the Church in Iraq where Christians are disproportionately represented among refugees, persons displaced from their homes, as well as victims of violence. We are anxious too for Christians who are being threatened in Egypt and other countries of the region and our world.

Please be assured as the Church in the United States celebrates the birth of Emmanuel, God with us, that we are with you. Our prayerful solidarity extends to all persecuted persons throughout the world, but in a particular way to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering in the region of our Savior’s birth.

With hope born of faith as we approach the Christmas Season,

Fraternally in Christ,

Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Most Reverend Richard E. Pates
Bishop of Des Moines
Chairman, International Justice and Peace

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