NAC Martyrs make it to the finals


Seminarian Mark Paver of the Archdiocese of New York, second from right, hugs a teammate after scoring the first goal as the Pontifical North American College competes against Mater Ecclesiae in a semi-final match in the Clericus Cup tournament in Rome April 28. The U.S. team won the game 2-0, advancing to the final against the Pontifical Gregorian University. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

ROME — The Pontifical North American College is heading to the Clericus Cup soccer finals after a 2-0 win against the Mater Ecclesiae seminary on Saturday.

The May 12 final playoff will be the third for the NAC Martyrs, who have yet to win the coveted clerical hat- and cleat-wearing soccer ball trophy. The NAC finished second in 2009 and 2010, and third in 2008.

At the Saturday game, British-born Mark Paver of the Archdiocese of New York was the first to score after just 11′ of play.

Deacon David Santos of the Archdiocese of Newark manned the goal and kept the opposing team from getting anything past the net. Bomber, Scottie Gratton of the Diocese of Burlington nabbed the NAC’s second goal securing the win.

They’ll be facing the Pontifical Gregorian University, which won the cup last year.

An advocate of Latin liturgies speaks about tradition

For this week’s Vatican Letter from our Rome bureau — see “New generation, old rite: the enduring appeal of Catholic tradition” — we interviewed Father Joseph Kramer, an Australia-born member of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. The fraternity was established specifically to serve Catholics devoted to the old Mass in Latin. You can watch a video version of the story here.

Net gain in fight against malaria

Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services, said World Malaria Day April 25 is a time to”redouble our commitment to eradicate this pernicious disease.”

World Malaria Day was established five years ago by the World Health Organization as a means to provide education and understanding of the disease and spread information about ways to prevent and treat it.

Woo, writing in a blog for the Huffington Post, points out that the disease — which is spread by mosquitoes — killed at least 650,000 people worldwide in 2010 and some say the figure may even be twice that. Ninety-two percent of these deaths were in Africa and nearly two-thirds were of children under the age of 5.

Despite such grim statistics, Woo said deaths linked to malaria have declined since 2004.

She said the key to completely eradicating this disease is not only through scientists working to create a vaccine but also in the simple steps of using insecticide-treated bed nets and anti-malaria medicines.

According to the United Nations’ program Nothing But Nets, bed nets are so effective because they protect people from malaria-carrying mosquitoes that bite at night. A family of four can sleep under an insecticide-treated bed net, safe from malaria, for three years. The insecticide woven into each net also makes entire communities safer because it kills and repels mosquitoes. Bed nets are said to be able reduce malaria transmissions by 90 percent in areas with high coverage rates.

The CRS website  recounts how three years ago it helped deliver about 3 million insecticide-treated bed nets across Niger. Outreach workers who distributed these nets in local villages also worked to convince locals to use them.

But people do not have to be handing out nets and encouraging people to use them to make a difference, the CRS site points out. It urges people to promote awareness about malaria, contribute or raise money to fight it and advocate Congress to work to eradicate the disease.

Reflections on Benedict XVI’s seven years as pope

We wanted to make sure you didn’t miss our Rome bureau’s video story last week for the seventh anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s election.  Providing reflections on Benedict’s papacy is Father John Wauck, who teaches at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. He gives insights on Benedict’s travels, on his approach to other religions and to the Second Vatican Council, and on the irony of a German serving as pope as we approach the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation.

NAC Martyrs head to semifinals

Pontifical North American College seminarian John Gibson of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee competes in the Clericus Cup in a 2010 game against the Pontifical College of St. Paul in Rome. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).

VATICAN CITY — With help from an Australian teammate, the Pontifical North American College is heading to the Clericus Cup semifinals April 28.  This will be the NAC Martyrs’ fourth consecutive semifinal play since the soccer series for seminarians first kicked off in 2007.

The Martyrs beat the Pontifical Urban College 4-2 on Saturday making it a great way for the men to celebrate the April 21st birthday of the NAC’s rector Msgr. James Checchio!

The NAC houses a number of Australian seminarians since “the men down under” don’t have a pontifical college of their own. Lewi Barakat of the Archdiocese of Sydney netted two goals in the game’s final half, pulling the NAC out of an excruciating 2-2 tie.

Deacon David Santos of the Archdiocese of Newark and John Gibson of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee nabbed the team’s two other goals.

The Martyrs and its superhero fan base are once again hoping to come home with the Clericus Cup championship title, which has eluded them for the past five years. Their best showing came in 2010 when they took second place overall and won an award for “Best Fans.”

Super heroes such as Batman, Spider-Man and Wolverine turn out for every game, waving American flags and rallying the fans. Uncle Sam and a fluffy yellow chicken  made special appearances in the stands this year.

Hallmark’s April 22 TV film ‘Firelight’ is ‘inspiring, replete with positive values’

(CNS photo/courtesy Hallmark Hall of Fame)

NEW YORK (CNS) — A prison for young female offenders provides the unlikely setting for a television drama about hope and new beginnings in “Firelight.” This latest, characteristically wholesome Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation — written by Ligiah Villalobos and directed by Darnell Martin — airs on ABC-TV Sunday, April 22, 9-11 p.m. EDT.

Cuba Gooding Jr. stars as Dwayne Johnson, nicknamed DJ, the facility’s dedicated and compassionate youth counselor. When new inmate Caroline Magabo (Q’orianka Kilcher) arrives on the scene after being nabbed in a botched robbery led by her deadbeat boyfriend, DJ sets his sights on helping her reform and keep out of further trouble. So, too, does model prisoner Terry Easle (DeWanda Wise).

Terry heads the inmates’ elite volunteer firefighting team, a unit primarily dedicated to battling local brush fires that she eventually convinces Caroline to join. Membership in the force and educational engagement with — of all things — Plato’s “Republic,” a text to which Terry introduces her newfound friend, become the vehicles propelling Caroline toward a better life.

While the redemption the program celebrates is entirely of the self-improvement variety — Caroline and DJ discuss the need to “buy yourself back” when you’ve done something genuinely harmful — it nonetheless strikes a secular note that’s at least in harmony with the spiritual themes of the Easter season.

Although its brief portrayals of crime and the effects of physical abuse may mark this offering as too mature for the youngest, teen viewers and their elders will find it an inspiring tale replete with positive values.

- – -

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

Central American violence called threat to U.S.

By Rhina Guidos
Catholic News Service

Outgoing World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick said today that across administrations, the United States has not paid attention to Central America until the problems “get so bad.”

Now the recent rise in violence, including dramatic numbers of homicides “for countries not at war,” won’t just threaten the region but could present a security problem for the United States, Zoellick said.

Gangs, the drug trade and widespread and easy access to firearms threaten the people living in Central America as well as development of the region, Zoellick said.

He urged the private sector to become more involved in finding a solution to bringing down the violence.

“This is not just the role of the state or the Catholic Church,” he said.

Central American nations combined have the same population as the entire country of Spain, yet the number of murders per capita — 336 in Spain to more than 14,000 in Central America over the same period — clearly shows the problem, he said. He was speaking today to a group gathered at the World Bank headquarters in Washington to discuss ways of reducing murder rates in Central America.

“The private sector has to say, ‘This is our problem, too,’” Zoellick said.

Cholera response steps up as Haiti’s rainy season begins

(CNS/Paul Jeffrey)

An upswing in cholera in Haiti has prompted health care workers and aid agencies to step up efforts to prevent the water-borne disease from spreading rapidly as the rainy season begins.

Catholic Relief Services was among the aid agencies that boosted the distribution of soap, water purification tablets and hygiene information within 24 hours of the initial spike in early April following a period of heavy rain. CRS reported reaching 22,000 families within days; in Port-au-Prince, agency workers installed or repaired sanitation stations and increased disinfection and maintenance of facilities in 12 settlements where people left homeless by the January 2010 earthquake remain in crude shelters.

In addition, Boston-based Partners in Health has embarked on a vaccination program with the goal of reaching 100,000 people. While the vaccine typically is effective 70 percent of the time, PIH has set out to show that a concentrated vaccination campaign can significantly reduce the threat of the disease as long as vaccine supplies are available, Donna Barry, the agency’s director of policy and advocacy, told a congressional briefing April 18.

Despite such outreach, several speakers said during the briefing that all Haitians are at risk of contracting the disease, which can kill in a matter of hours if left untreated.

Now some history. The first cholera cases surfaced in central Haiti in Artibonite department in October 2010. Until then, the disease had no history in the country. Investigators traced the source to a faulty sanitation system at a camp housing Nepalese soldiers, who are part of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. The U.N. has declined to acknowledge it was responsible for the outbreak, sparking protest from some Haitian organizations. More than 7,050 people have died and more than 532,000 people — 5 percent of the population — have contracted the disease, according to the Haitian Ministry of Health and Population.

As the rainy season begins, those most at risk are the 500,000 people who remain in the settlements across the earthquake zone, said Luiz Augusto Galvao, manager of sustainable development and environmental health area for the Pan-American Health Organization.

He decried the lack of access to safe water and sanitation for many Haitians. Only 69 percent of Haitians can access safe drinking water and just 17 percent have access to sanitation systems.

An international coalition is attempting to address the situation, but he acknowledged it will be years before things improve.

So what to do?

Agencies such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the Inter-American Development Bank, UNICEF, U.N.-Water and the governments of Brazil, Canada and France are pulling together to address the water problems facing Haiti, Galvao said. Other speakers called upon the world to make good on the billions of dollars pledged in the months after the earthquake to spur an effort to bring clean water and sanitation to all Haitians.

“For now we need to save lives,” Galvao said.

Obama joins those sending best wishes to pope

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd in St. Peter's Square April 19, 2005, after being announced as the 265th pontiff. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

VATICAN CITY — Today was a Vatican holiday marking the seventh anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. The anniversary comes just three days after his 85th birthday.

The Vatican post office has been busy, busy, busy this week.

Vatican Radio reported today that messages have been arriving from all over the world and have come from the powerful and the meek, individuals and organizations.

U.S. President Barack Obama sent a happy birthday message at the beginning of the week. The president told the pope, “Your work and that of the Catholic Church continues to strengthen our entire human family, especially those who are most vulnerable, and your spirit reflects the love of Christ to so many.”

The president promised to pray for the pope and asked the pope to pray for him.

The anniversary of the pope’s election was marked in a message Secretary of State Hilary Clinton sent on behalf of the president.

Congratulating the pope and wishing him well in his continued ministry, Clinton said, “Pope Benedict has worked tirelessly to unite people of different beliefs through a shared faith in humanity and peace.”

Earlier in the week, the Vatican posted a dedicated email address — — that anyone can use to send a birthday and/or anniversary message to the pope.

On Blessed Kateri’s feast day in Canada, a video reflection on her life

Here in the United States we don’t celebrate the feast of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha until July 14. But in Canada her feast day is today, the date of her death in 1680.

To celebrate the feast, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt + Light Television in Canada, to produce this video reflection on the life of Blessed Kateri, who will be made a saint Oct. 21:


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 730 other followers