Priest says second trip to Super Bowl for him ‘humbling,’ ‘surprising’

Father Peter Gallagher, pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Lawrenceburg, Ind., is making his second trip to the Super Bowl in four years. (CNS photo/courtesy of Indianapolis Colts)

Father Peter Gallagher, a pastor in the Indianapolis Archdiocese, says he never dreamed when he was first ordained in 1992 he’d be the chaplain for the Indianapolis Colts, much less go to two Super Bowls with the team.

“It’s humbling and surprising to me,” he tells Sean Gallagher of  The Criterion, the archdiocesan newspaper. And the priest who was chaplain for the Colts during the team’s first 20 years in Indianapolis — the late Father Patrick Kelly — has not been far from his thoughts.

“I thought of Pat in both playoff games. … I think in his own way, he’s celebrating,” Father Gallagher said.

Indianapolis Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein and New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond have placed a friendly wager on the game, and a nun-prognosticator in Indy has the Colts winning 31-22.

But not so fast. Others who predict these things say the Saints will win.  And the Saints not only have the current New Orleans archbishop in their corner, they’ve also got retired New Orleans Archbishop Philip M. Hannan as one of their biggest fans. He has been a fan since the team began as Peter Finney Jr., editor of the Clarion Herald, New Orleans archdiocesan paper, writes in his Feb. 6 column.

The archbishop, 96, was there at the beginning, when the Saints and their fans were newly minted. He also helped name the team, according to Finney. Archbishop Hannan reassured then-Gov. John McKeithen “that he did not consider the nickname sacrilegious.”

He also wrote a prayer when he was asked to offer the invocation before the Saints very first game on Sept. 7, 1967. It was against the Rams and before a crowd of 80,000. And the words are “every bit as fresh today,” writes Finney.

Haitian doctor with US ties committed to improving health care for poor neighborhood

Dr. Moise Arnaud Cely, director, Sarthe Neighborhood Medical Clinic. (CNS/Bob Roller)

SARTHE, Haiti — The second floor of his medical clinic is gone, thanks to the Jan. 12 earthquake, yet Dr. Moise Arnaud Cely continues to see patients in the only medical clinic in a forgotten corner of this community mired deep in poverty.

Assisted by two nurses, including his wife, Cely continues to see 75 patients a day in what remains of the Sarthe Neighborhood Medical Clinic. His equipment is limited: scale, blood pressure cup, stethoscope, microscope, bandages and dwindling medications.

Patients wait for treatment inside on well-worn chairs and outside on weathered benches

“We need a lot of medicine because here it is very difficult to find more became most of the buildings where you could buy medicine have been damaged,” Cely told Catholic News Service today.

Fewer of Cely’s patients from this walled neighborhood with rutted rocky roads are arriving these days with untreated broken bones and deep gashes now that its more than three weeks since the quake. Now he’s seeing people experiencing diarrhea and vomiting caused by water-born diseases exacerbated by hunger.

“They look very weak,” he said.

He expects the number of people with such symptoms to continue increasing until adequate food and water are available.

The clinic is supported by the Haitian Development Fund, whose president, Dr. Brent DeLand, is a parishioner at Christ the King Church in Springfield, Ill. The two doctors met in 2002 while delivering health care in Cite Soleil, an extremely poor neighborhood wracked by violence in nearby Port-au-Prince.

DeLand is due to arrive in Haiti, perhaps as early as the end of February, to assess what repairs are needed at the clinic before the rainy season begins in April.

When Cely is not seeing patients he cleans debris from the upper floor of the concrete-block building. Judging by how mangled the roof and wall supports are, he’s going to need a lot of help.

Text of pope’s message for Lent 2010

(Related story: Conversion breaks bonds of selfishness, pope says in Lenten message)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI’s message for Lent 2010 was released by the Vatican today at a press conference. Here is the full text:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Each year, on the occasion of Lent, the Church invites us to a sincere review of our life in light of the teachings of the Gospel. This year, I would like to offer you some reflections on the great theme of justice, beginning from the Pauline affirmation: “The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ” (cf. Rm 3, 21-22).

Justice: “dare cuique suum”

A young survivor of the Haitian earthquake. (CNS/Bob Roller)

First of all, I want to consider the meaning of the term “justice,” which in common usage implies “to render to every man his due,” according to the famous expression of Ulpian, a Roman jurist of the third century. In reality, however, this classical definition does not specify what “due” is to be rendered to each person. What man needs most cannot be guaranteed to him by law. In order to live life to the full, something more intimate is necessary that can be granted only as a gift: we could say that man lives by that love which only God can communicate since He created the human person in His image and likeness. Material goods are certainly useful and required – indeed Jesus Himself was concerned to heal the sick, feed the crowds that followed Him and surely condemns the indifference that even today forces hundreds of millions into death through lack of food, water and medicine – yet “distributive” justice does not render to the human being the totality of his “due.” Just as man needs bread, so does man have even more need of God. Saint Augustine notes: if “justice is that virtue which gives every one his due … where, then, is the justice of man, when he deserts the true God?” (De civitate Dei, XIX, 21). Continue reading

Tennessee medical volunteers find Haitians appreciate care being delivered

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — After two weeks in this earthquake-ravaged capital, the “dynamic duo” of Tennessee medicine was looking forward to getting home tonight.

(CNS/Bob Roller)

Registered nurse Lynn Blair-Anton, a member of St. Matthew Parish in Franklin, Tenn., and Dr. Donald LaFont, a member of St. Mary Parish in Jackson, Tenn., have spent the last two weeks working in mobile medical clinic, treating Port-au-Prince’s seriously wounded.

They were in Haiti because their parishes are part of the Parish Twinning Programs of the Americas, based in Nashville. They were based at Matthew 25 House, the program’s home-away-from-home for volunteers working in Haiti.

Other volunteers from a variety of organizations christened them the dynamic duo because they could always be found working together.

LaFont, 72, has been volunteering his medical expertise in Haiti since 1992; Blair-Anton since 1997.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Blair-Anton told Catholic News Service this morning while waiting for a ride to the Port-au-Prince airport for a flight home on a commercial transport. “We have the talents. We have the resources.”

Both medical professionals said their faith motivates their actions.

“You can say God lets us do it,” LaFont said. “But we wanted to come. These people need it.”

There has been times during their stay when the mobile teams have almost run out of supplies, but not quite.

“Our supplies have been like loaves and fishes,” Blair-Anton said. “Just when we’re out we get more.”

“You wonder where this stuff comes from, but it shows up,” LaFont added.

The Tennesseans said the Haitians appreciate the help they are getting. At a couple of sites where the clinic set up, people sang songs of thanks for the workers and praise to God as they waited patiently for assistance.

“Instead of saying ‘Why me?'” Blair-Anton said, “they’re saying, ‘Thank you, God.'”

A walk through destroyed Sacred Heart Parish seems mighty eerie

A crucifix remains standing amid the rubble of Sacred Heart Church in Port-au-Prince. (CNS/Bob Roller)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Sacred Heart Parish in the middle of Port-au-Prince is a must-see stop for Catholics visiting Haiti. Built in 1905, the historic church in the Turgeau neighborhood was a favorite for average Catholics and top church officials alike.

It still is, but not because of its beauty or its tradition. Now people stop to see how badly the Jan. 12 earthquake shook the church to pieces.

Debris is stacked at least 15 feet high at the main entrance. Part of a steeple blocks the sidewalk and part of the street. A 20-foot tall crucifix in the corner of the church lot faces and remains largely undamaged, still announcing to all that this is the site of a once-beautiful church.

Behind the church, a wall has toppled backward  into what looks like a courtyard, exposing a triangle-shaped interior wall, which formed the backdrop to the main altar. Looking at the same wall from inside the destroyed structure, it still holds a modern crucifix. Below the image of the crucified Christ the tabernacle sits undamaged. A few feet away is the main altar, itself undamaged save for a fine coating of dust.

Walking inside what’s left of the church today seems eerie. A pile of bricks has forced open a set of side doors. Ceramic tiles and plaster ornaments cover the entryway and much of the aisles. The parish’s Nativity display had been toppled as well.

A pair of women's shoes on the floor inside Sacred Heart Church. (CNS/Bob Roller)

A thick layer of powdery white dust covered everything and made the floor slippery. The coat of dust reminds the visitor of the dust that coated desktops and fine china in the homes of people blocks away from the World Trade Center after the disaster of Sept. 11, 2001.

Pews were scattered about.  Three ladies’ purses, their contents scattered, rested on one of the pews in the middle of the church. A pair of ladies shoes remained on the floor near the front entrance. The stench of death emanated from the debris pile that blocked the main door. Surely the women who tried to flee as they prayed late in the afternoon remained there.

Surprisingly, not everything was destroyed. Several beautiful stained glass windows remained in place. A few Stations of the Cross still hung on the walls, needing only a good cleaning. The pews probably can be used in another church.

But Sacred Heart Church, as thousands of faithful Catholics knew it, is no more.

Most-viewed CNS stories for January

Is it February already? Here’s our monthly most-viewed list for January, in case you missed any of these:

1. Pope John Paul practiced self-mortification, postulator confirms (Jan. 26)

2. Papal liturgist endorses ‘reform of the reform’ of the liturgy (Jan. 7)

3. Pope prays for victims of Haiti quake; archbishop’s body found (Jan. 13)

4. CRS rep expects ‘thousands and thousands’ of dead, injured in Haiti (Jan. 13)

5. Pope offers thanks for 2009, encourages solidarity in 2010 (Dec. 31)

6. Forget doomsayers; stop smoking, fasten seatbelts, advises astronomer (Jan. 6)

7. Haitian archbishop who died in quake portrayed as a humble man (Jan. 14)

8. Pope asks priests to get online, spread the Gospel (Jan. 23)

9. A tightrope act? Pope prepares to visit Rome synagogue (Jan. 8)

10. Catholic aid agencies accept donations for Haitian quake relief (Jan. 13) — our list of where to give; still up to date.

US-born soldier of Haitian descent finds his ancestors’ homeland hurting

PETIONVILLE, Haiti — Being in Haiti for the first time in his life, Army Pfc. Cameron Taylor of New York never imagined the country would be hurting as much as it is.

Pfc. Cameron Taylor, with the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division, stands guard at a food distribution station in Petionville. (CNS/Bob Roller)

Assigned to a security detail with members of the 82nd Airborne Division at the World Food Program food distribution for earthquake victims in Petionville yesterday, the 27-year-old soldier shared a few impressions about what he’s seen so far.

“I have family here that I haven’t had the chance to meet because of the situation,” he said.

He has also found devastation to be beyond belief.

While he has not been able to reach relatives in Haiti yet, he has heard from family in his native Harlem neighborhood in New York City that several likely perished in the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Taylor expects that he will be able to reach his Haitian relatives at some point because he said he has been told his assignment will last for three to six months. That’s plenty of time to be of service not only to the U.S. but to injured and homeless Haitians as well.

US-supported orphanage seeks normalcy three weeks after quake

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The 63 girls who live at the House of Girls of God Orphanage on a mountainside in Port-au-Prince still sleep outside, nearly three weeks after the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Paula Thybulle, director and founder, House of Girls of God Orphanage. (CNS/Bob Roller)

Paula Thybulle, the orphanage’s director and founder, welcomed a Catholic News Service reporter and photographer to the orphanage today, saying it’s been a difficult job keeping the girls calm and getting them back into a regular routine.

“Until now they are traumatized,” Thybulle said.

The orphanage sustained enough damage during the magnitude 7 temblor to close several classrooms and the dormitories.

The orphanage is one of the several programs in Haiti supported by the Haitian Ministries of the Diocese of Norwich, Conn. Emily Smack, executive director, said the diocese provides $70,000 annually to the orphanage and the other programs.

Smack, Lyn Tolson, assistant director, and Dr. Tom Gorin, a pediatrician, are in Port-au-Prince for five days to visit the projects the Haitian Ministries program supports. They wanted to know what they could do in the U.S. to help the programs continue and return to regular operation.

Emily Smack, executive director of Haitian Ministries in the Diocese of Norwich, Conn., talks with children at the orphanage. (CNS/Bob Roller)

The orphanage in Port-au-Prince’s Village Lamothe  neighborhood is in a holding pattern. While it gets electric power from a generator and the staff has been able to cook meals for the girls, classes are suspended because the teachers have not returned from caring for their families in the aftermath of the disaster.

Thybulle, 70, said she worries about the orphanage’s future. She would like to find another location for the girls, but the disarray around the Haitian capital will make that a difficult task. Even if the right place is available, it will take money to rebuild what already exists.

Thybulle, who started the orphanage in 1987 after holding jobs in the Haitian government and in the United States, said the project is what’s driven her for more than 22 years. She said she’s not ready to retire because if she did “I would die.”

For now Thybulle is working as hard as she can to hold the orphanage together. But she seemed tired after nearly three weeks of nonstop work.

“I don’t want to turn my back on the girls,” she said. “I love them a lot.”

Pope sneaks out of Vatican to visit exhibit

Pope Benedict visits a Rome exhibit on European patron saints. (CNS/Osservatore Romano)

VATICAN CITY — Twenty-five years ago, it wasn’t unusual for Pope John Paul II to sneak out of the Vatican in the winter to go skiing.

Pope Benedict XVI left the Vatican unannounced last evening to visit an art exhibit, according to reports today from Vatican Radio and L’Osservatore Romano.

Yesterday marked the end of the four-month run of the exhibit, “The Power and the Grace: The Patron Saints of Europe,” at Rome’s Palazzo Venezia Museum, and Pope Benedict was among the last of the more than 100,000 people to visit the show.

The Vatican newspaper said the pope arrived at the museum about 6:30 p.m. with his two private secretaries and the four laywomen who care for the private papal household. The women are members of Communion and Liberation’s Memores Domini association.

While the public was held at bay for 35 minutes, the pope and his entourage were shown the more than 100 works on display by the curator of the exhibit, the Italian ambassador to the Vatican and an undersecretary of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government.

For the last month of the exhibit, the Louvre in Paris loaned the museum Leonardo DaVinci’s painting of St. John the Baptist. Other works on display included Jan van Eyck’s painting of St. Francis of Assisi with the stigmata, Caravaggio’s St. John the Baptist, and El Greco’s painting of St. Louis IX of France.

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