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August 2013

Pope Francis and Cardinal Sandri Urge Peace in Syria and Egypt 
August 17, 2013

The following list of 58 looted and burned buildings (including convents and schools) has been verified by representatives of the Christian Churches.

At least 58 Christian churches, schools, institutions, homes and shops have been attacked, looted and torched over the last three days by the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of Mohamed Morsi, the former Egyptian president who was deposed on 3 July . On August 14 the army has tried to evict the sit-in of the Islamists in Rabaa El Nahda Square and Adaweya. In a wave of devastating violence, over 600 people were killed and thousands injured. But violent attacks were also carried out on Catholic, Orthodox, Evangelical churches as well as the homes and shops of Christians, as we have documented

The representatives of the Christian Churches have drawn up a list which we publish below. The list was handed over to AsiaNews by the Press Office of the Catholic Church in Egypt.

Catholic churches and convents

1. Franciscan church and school (road 23) - burned (Suez) 
2. Monastery of the Holy Shepherd and hospital - burned (Suez) 
3. Church of the Good Shepherd, Monastery of the Good Shepherd - burned in molotov attack (Asuit)
4. Coptic Catholic Church of St. George - burned (Minya, Upper Egypt) 
5. Church of the Jesuits - burned (Minya, Upper Egypt) 
6. Fatima Basilica - attacked - Heliopolis 
7. Coptic Catholic Church of St. Mark - burned (Minya - Upper Egypt) 
8. Franciscan convent (Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) - burned (Beni Suef, Upper Egypt) 
9. Church of St. Teresa - burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt) 
10. Franciscan Church and School - burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
11. Convent of St Joseph and school - burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
12. Coptic Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart - torched (Minya, Upper Egypt) 
13. Convent of the Sisters of Saint Mary - attacked (Cairo)
14. School of the Holy Shepherd - attacked (Minya, Upper Egypt)

Orthodox and Evangelical Churches

1. Anglican Church of St. Saviour - burned (Suez)
2. Evangelical Church of St Michael - surrounded and sacked (Asuit, Upper Egypt) 
3. Coptic Orthodox Church of St. George - Burned (Minya, Upper Egypt) 
4. Church of Al-Esla - burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
5. Adventist Church - burned, the pastor and his wife abducted (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
6. Church of the Apostles - burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
7. Church of the Holy renewal - burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
8. Diocesan Centre Coptic Orthodox Qusiya - burned (Asuit, Upper Egypt)
9. Church of St. George - burned (Arish, North Egypt)
10. Church of St. George in al-Wasta - burned (Beni Suef, Upper Egypt) 
11. Church of the Virgin Mary - attacked (Maadi, Cairo) 
12. Church of the Virgin Mary - attacked (Mostorod, Cairo)
13. Coptic Orthodox Church of St. George - attacked (Helwan, Cairo) 
14. Church of ​​St. Mary of El Naziah - burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt) 
15. Church of Santa Damiana - sacked and burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt) 
16. Church of St. Theodore - burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
17. Evangelical Church of al-Zorby - Sacked and destroyed (Fayoum, Upper Egypt) 
18. Church of St. Joseph - burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt) 
19. Franciscan School - burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt) 
20. Coptic Orthodox Diocesan Center of St. Paul - burned (Gharbiya, Delta) 
21. Coptic Orthodox Church of St. Anthony - burned (Giza)
22. Coptic Church of St. George - burned (Atfeeh, Giza) 
23. Church of the Virgin Mary and father Abraham - burned (Delga, Deir Mawas, Minya, Upper Egypt) 
24. Church of St. Mina Abu Hilal Kebly - burned (Minya, Upper Egypt) 
25. Baptist Church in Beni Mazar - burned (Minya, Upper Egypt) 
26. Church of Amir Tawadros - burned (Minya, Upper Egypt) 
27. Evangelical Church - burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
28. Church of Anba Moussa al-Aswad- burned (Minya, Upper Egypt) 
29. Church of the Apostles - burned (Minya, Upper Egypt) 
30. Church of St Mary - arson attempt (Qena, Upper Egypt) 
31. Coptic Church of St. George - burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt) 
32. Church of Santa Damiana - Attacked and burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt) 
33. Church of the Virgin Mary - burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt) 
34. Church of St. Mark and community center - burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt) 
35. Church of Anba Abram - destroyed and burned (Sohag, Upper Egypt) 

Christian institutions

1. House of Fr. Angelos (pastor of the church of the Virgin Mary and Father Abraham) - burned (Minya, Upper Egypt)
2. Properties and shops of Christians - Burnt (Arish, North Egypt) 
3. 17 Christian homes attacked and looted (Minya, Upper Egypt) 
4. Christian homes - Attach (Asuit, Upper Egypt) 
5. Offices of the Evangelical Foundation - burned (Minya, Upper Egypt) 
6. Stores, pharmacies, hotels owned by Christians - attacked and looted (Luxor, Upper Egypt)
7. Library of the Bible Society - burned (Cairo)
8. Bible Society - burned (Fayoum, Upper Egypt)
9. Bible Society- burned (Asuit, North Egypt). 

Burned buildings owned by Christians

*1. 58 houses.

*2. 85 shops.

*3. 16 pharmacies.

*4. 3 hotels (Upper Egypt)

*5. 75 buses and cars.

7 Victims (killed) 17 kidnapping and hundreds injured.

RCIA: Join the Catholic Church

By now, many Catholics are familar with the acronym RCIA, The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. Since Vatican II, this program is the primary method by which new members are welcomed into the Catholic Church.

Evangelization for the program is done primarily by already baptized Catholics from among family, friends, co-workers...everyone with whom we come into contact.

We begin each program in the fall, which doesn't give us much time to get the word out before the program is already up and running.

Ask yourself, "Whom should I invite to become a Catholic?" Pray about the question if no one comes go mind immediately...then ask someone.

While we're on the subject, consider inviting a Catholic whom you haven't seen at mass in a while to worship with you. 


Food For Thought: Archbishop Chaput, A New Catholic School Year Begins

2w48There's a ritual at Holy Cross School by which you can always tell the opening of school approaches: the waxing of the floors. Well, the final coat of wax is drying today, so school must be opening next week, ready or not. We're ready!

Archbishop Chaput's letter to the troubled church in Philadelphia provides us with food for thought this Labor Day weekend.

 ...our [Catholic] schools exist primarily to develop the whole human person with an education shaped by Catholic faith, virtue and moral formation.  The goal of the Church, and by extension, the goal of all Catholic education, is to make disciples.

God renews the world with our actions, not our intentions. What separates real discipleship from surface piety is whether we actually do what we say we believe.

Welcoming Students and Understanding Our Mission, Archbishop Chaput

Read the entire letter here.

Food For Thought: Sing Out and Stick Together

Scar02Ten Voices

 It’s O.K. for the rich and the lucky to keep still;

No one wants to hear about them anyway.

But those in need have to step forward,

Have to say, “I am blind,”

Or, “I’m about to go blind,”

Or, “Nothing is well with me,”

Or “I have a child who is sick,”

Or, “Right there, I am sort of glued together…”


And probably that doesn’t do anything either.

They have to sing. If they didn’t sing

Everyone would walk past, as if they were fences or trees.

That’s where you can hear good singing.

People really are strange,

They prefer to hear castratos in boy choirs.


But God himself comes and stays a long time

When the world of half-people starts to bore him.


Rainer Maria Rilke in

Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, Robert Bly, ed and translator.

Catechists Needed for Our Religious Education Program

Communion Bread and Wine with Cross
“My teacher, we made bread together, and I ate it and it was good.”

                Religious education student to his parents, in Craig Dykstra’s, Growing in the Life of Faith


…on Sunday School teachers…

What are they doing these teachers? They come, each with his or own piece of life, in fear and trembling, most of the time feeling as though they've got little to give and almost nothing to say. Probably someone asked them to do it, almost twisted their arms to do it. But the reason many keep on doing it, I think, is that they are compelled to do it, from within, or maybe even by a sometimes painful, sometimes satisfying grace that works through them. They search through curriculum materials for something to teach, and in the how-to manuals for how to teach it. But what they do more importantly is bring themselves to another person, to a group of children they hardly know. And there they make bread together, and eat it and know from time to time that it is good….

Teaching in church school is nine parts getting a weary body out of bed early on Sunday mornings, cutting out construction paper patterns, cleaning hardened glue from tables too low to bend over gracefully, matching the right snow boot with the right foot, and keeping noise levels within moderate bounds. But those nine parts are the things that make the one part possible. And if you, as a teacher, are ever fortunate enough to overhear one of the children in your class say, “My teacher, we made bread together and I ate it and it was good,” you will know what that one part is.

Craig Dysktra, Growing in the Life of Faith

We need dedicated and courageous catechists for our Tuesday evening or Sunday morning sessions of the School of Religious Education. Please consider helping pass on the faith to the next generation in this very important ministy. 

Return Christ's call by calling the Parish Office and volunteering as a catechist, an aide or hall monitor.


Gluten Sensitivity and Holy Communion

I was reminded by a recent journal article about the methods for screening and confirming the diagnosis of gluten sensitivity, a condition only recognized as a diagnostic category in 2008. The existence of non-tropical sprue, or gluten intolerance with its characteristic autoimmune features, diagnostic small bowel biopsy and response to gluten-free diet has been recognized, if not always quickly diagnosed, for many years. 

The full spectrum of gluten sensitivity is not yet fully appreciated, nor are its causes well understood. Nevertheless, for those individuals who have a medically supervised need to limit or eliminate gluten from their diets, there are gluten-free hosts available at all our masses, as long as you notify the sacristan before the mass begins. 

A separate pyx contains the unconsecrated gluten-free host(s) which are brought up to the altar with the gifts of regular bread and wine. The priest will consecrate this host along with the others at the consecration, although it is always kept in its separate pyx (container). Before the priest handles the hosts for distribution, the pyx containing the gluten free host is closed and eventually handed to the sacristan for distribution to the communicant. This procedure ensures that no one touches the gluten free host after touching the regular bread, since even this small amount of gluten may contaminate the host for those extremely sensitive to the wheat protein.

We purchase our gluten free hosts from a community of religious women which bakes them and is approved by the US bishops. We store them separately from the regular whole wheat hosts. We cannot consecrate hosts brought from home, as we would have no way of knowing how these hosts are baked, or with what ingredients they are made.

We have several parishioners who avail themselves of the gluten-free hosts at our Sunday masses. Just let our sacristan know beforehand, so we always have a host on-hand and are able to keep it apart from the whole wheat hosts during the mass. We do not keep a supply of consecrated gluten-free hosts in the tabernacle on-demand, because they would likely become contaminated with gluten at some point.


Second Rose Window: The Twelve Apostles and the Holy Spirit

Keeping in mind that the The Twelve have figured prominently in Holy Cross' liturgical design for many years, a specific proposal for the second Rose Window is under consideration.

The design would be similar in shape and petals to the Victory of the Lamb Rose Window which is being made for us from the St. Francis Windows. In rough sketch, it would include the 12 Apostles and their symbols along with the Four Evangelists surrounding the Holy Spirit.


Rose Window
Schematic of Holy Spirit and the Apostles Rose Window


Meantime Behind All Those Mounds of Earth

DSCN1275They say you always keep a spot in your heart for the music and the garden flowers you grew up with. Some of grandfather's favorites are here: marigolds and petunias. These particular marigolds were moved from in front of the church earlier this year. They had been hardy self-sowers for three successive years. The petunias are "Laura Bush," a self-sowing variety back for the third year as well. Balsam, Black-Eyed Susan and Nepeta are some of the plants in the background. Portulaca, a dependable leftover from the Youth Group Plant Sale prospers in the foreground.


Food For Thought: Meditation


The retreat director asked her if she ever just spent some time with God. She replied that she did this often and then she went on to describe how she had developed the habit of visiting a church after work and sitting there for a little while. She said, “I don’t try to pray. I just sit there with God. When I come out, I feel different. I feel as though I’ve been held.”

 Denis Edwards, The Human Experience of God


School Playground On the Move

Workmen upended the pre-K playset and are moving it to the west side of the playground area in order to make room for the approach to the church entrance. 


Playset On Its Side
Perimeter of the Playground Moves

Not Dinosaur Footprints, Footings for the Playground Poles. I remember helping my dad dig footings for the deck he built.
Playground and Pathways to Church


Facebook a Health Hazard?

I was persuaded to open a Facebook account for parish use during Superstorm Sandy to keep in touch with social outreach efforts in our community and get the news out that Holy Cross parish was open for masses as usual.

I learned quickly that any messages are quickly scrolled off the screen by large volumes of sometimes accurate information, but also well wishes, chatter and any manner of conversation, including erroneous rumor. When the acute crisis ended, I pretty much stopped using Facebook.

When their data collection techniques became obtrusive to me, and remembering how much trouble certain Facebook accounts had caused among our school students and to myself, I closed my Facebook account (or at least tried to).

Along comes Dr. Keith Ablow of Foxnews with this article

Facebook has been linked, in numerous clinical trials both here and around the world, to feelings of intense envy, dissatisfaction with life, insomnia, major depression, disrupted friendships and feelings of isolation -- especially in young people.

Facebook may well be addictive, as well—just like tobacco. 

Read more:


Food for Thought: Moral Indifference

The Devil's cleverist wile is to convice us that he does not exist.



…Take for example the popular myth that people get what they deserve….The myth of fairness or justice is reinforced by countless stories of people ascending from rags to riches through virtue, hard work and perseverance. We want the world to be fair, and the myth of fairness perfectly fills our deepest desires….

The myth of just rewards when used a model for interpreting social experience is an exemplary myth of indifference. On the level of seeing, the myth of just rewards simply tells us “how things are.” It tells us that some people are poorer than others and that the distinction between rich and poor is merited and fair. Through the auspices of the myth, we presume the world is fair and that large discrepancies between rich and poor are natural in the same way that the sky is blue. As a consequence, we seldom question or see the contribution of luck, malice, genetics and social structures either to the failures of others or to our own success. Schooled on the old fable of the ant and the grasshopper and its many successors, the myth of fairness and justice encourages and legitimizes social indifference. We see the is-ness of poverty, but we fail to see the discrepancy between things as they are and things as they might or ought to be…

S. Dennis Ford, Sins of Omission: A Primer on Moral Indifference

Church Body and Foundations Reinforced

Contractors installed several supports for the exposed church while the foundation pouring and digging continues around it.

The foundation under the church was shored up with ancillary supports alongside the original brick columns.

Original brick footings and new wooden supports for auxiliary columnar supports installed at an unknown later date.

Inside, four of the columns got fancy suspenders - strong, steel cables affixed in an X-shaped configuration around the westward four columns. 

Steel cable supports fixed to columns with bolts and brackets.

Next week the surveyors will return to lay out the exact markers for the foundations which should follow soon after.

Pray for no torrential storms in the meantime!

"Jesus Is Merciful, but He is Not Stupid"


JULY 29. 2013

On Monday, July 29, in the Chicago Tribune, a group of Catholics published an open letter addressed to me and to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). They accused the Church of turning her back on the poor. This accusation follows a decision by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) to include support for “same-sex marriage” as part of their political agenda. The CCHD cannot fund groups that support this goal.

Donors to the CCHD give to this anti-poverty organization with the understanding that their money will be passed on to organizations that respect the teachings of the Catholic faith. Organizations that apply for funds do so agreeing to this condition.

On May 23, the ICIRR board broke faith with its member organizations when it publicly supported so called “same-sex marriage.” For its own political advantage, it introduced a matter extraneous to its own purpose and betrayed its own members, who were not consulted.

The CCHD had no choice but to respect the unilateral decision of the ICIRR board that effectively cut off funding from groups that remain affiliated with ICIRR. Without betraying its donors or the Catholic faith, the Catholic Church’s long-standing work for immigrant groups and for immigration reform remains intact. This record speaks for itself and is well known. It is carried locally by Priests for Justice for Immigrants and by Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants, along with very many lay Catholics, in collaboration with the Archdiocesan Office for Immigrant Affairs and Immigration Education, led by Elena Segura with my complete support.

It is intellectually and morally dishonest to use the witness of the Church’s concern for the poor as an excuse to attack the Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage.  Four weeks ago, Pope Francis wrote: “…marriage should be a stable union of man and woman…this union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgement and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh and are enabled to give birth to a new life.” In other words, when it comes to marriage and family life, men and women are not interchangeable. The whole civilized world knows that.

Those who signed the open letter in the Tribune proclaimed their adherence to the Catholic faith even as they cynically called upon others to reject the Church’s bishops. The Church is no one’s private club; she is the Body of Christ, who tells us he is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Because the signers of the letters are Catholic, they know that in a few years, like each of us, they will stand before this same Christ to give an account of their stewardship. Jesus is merciful, but he is not stupid; he knows the difference between right and wrong. Manipulating both immigrants and the Church for political advantage is wrong.

Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago

Here is an example of the potential vacuity of asking the "What Would Jesus Do?" question when we already think we have the answer: i.e. show mercy, not care about distinctions, wave away subtlety, forgive and forget, let me do what I want.

The Church has always insisted that we are not adrift in a universe without a moral compass, free to determine right and wrong by opinion polls. It will be instructive to watch as this issue develops.