NEWS BRIEFS

Tej Francis

INDONESIA

Church celebrates the ordination of two tribal Dayak in West Kalimantan

(AsiaNews)  The ordination of new priests in the Diocese of Ketapang (West Kalimantan) is an “extraordinary” event for both the local Church and their community. It is not only a “prestigious” event for the family and for the relatives of the priest, but also a festive celebration of faith, to which the whole community is called to participate.

St Mikael’s Parish in Simpang Dua experienced this joy on 29 June, when Mgr Pius Riana Prabdi, bishop of Ketapang, ordained two local tribal men as diocesan priests: Fr Hendrix Yusri Basri Rius and Fr Fransiscus Suandi.

The pastoral mission of the Catholic Church in the province of West Kalimantan is difficult because of the lack of priests to serve the vast and remote area, which includes four dioceses (Pontianak, Sanggau, Sintang and Ketapang).

Because of poor road and travel infrastructures, the few priests that are available visit local communities every three or four months, and only when weather conditions allow them, trekking for hundreds of kilometers on rough roads and barely navigable rivers.

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA

Rebuilt from the ashes: The story of an American basilica

(CNA) St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Norfolk, Virginia, is the only black Catholic church in the United States that is also a basilica. Its dramatic history captures both the broader American Catholic history of persecution, growth and acceptance, but also a witness to the unique challenges faced by black Catholics over the centuries.

Founded originally as St. Patrick’s Parish in 1791, it is the oldest Catholic parish in the Diocese of Richmond, predating the foundation of the diocese by nearly 30 years.

The land originally bought in 1794 for the parish is the same ground on which the basilica today stands. From the beginning, according to the parish’s history, Catholics from all backgrounds worshiped together: Irish and German immigrants, free black persons and slaves.

However, by the 1850s, the parish’s immigrant background and mixed-race parish drew the ire of a prominent anti-Catholic movement: the Know-Nothings. Despite the threats, however, Fr. O’Keefe did not segregate the Masses. In 1856, the original church building burned down, leaving only three walls standing. Only a wooden crucifix was left unscathed.

Fr. O’Keefe and the parishioners worked hard to rebuild the church, seeking donations from Catholics along the East Coast. A new church building was constructed less than three years after the fire and is still standing today.

After the church was rebuilt, the parish renamed itself in 1858 in honor of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1854. It claims to be the first church in the world named for Mary of the Immaculate Conception following the declaration.

This devotion and witness of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception was formally celebrated when, in 1991, Saint Pope John Paul II elevated the 200-year-old church to a minor basilica.

UNITED KINGDOM

Fresh hopes for Charlie Gard

Edward Pentin, of the National Catholic Register , reported on July 7 that “a New York hospital offered to ship an experimental drug to the UK to help treat the 11-month old baby.”

Pentin, citing The Guardian, wrote that the “New York Presbyterian hospital and Columbia University Irving medical center also offered to admit the 11-month-old if legal hurdles could be cleared.”

The reporter also said that “the Vatican-run Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital is considering a new therapeutic plan that could allow Charlie, currently being cared for at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London, to bypass legal obstacles and be taken to Rome.”

He also noted that on the same day, July 7, “President Donald Trump will raise the matter during talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 Summit in Germany.”

The Italian medical association Scienza & Vita (Science and Life) the hospital’ decision is “a mental attitude that is polluting the roots of medical practice, legislation and widespread sentiment: the idea that human beings, with a low quality of life, have a lower dignity and worth than others, and that it is unreasonable to waste on them valuable resources that could be destined elsewhere. It is the ‘throw-away’ culture of which the Charlie case has become a tragic symbol.”

A large number of people in Italy take a similar view, and further protests and prayer vigils are being organized. A second demonstration took place last night outside the British embassy in Rome, and others are planned outside Downing Street.

Meanwhile, on Monday July 10, Fox News reported that British Judge Nicholas Francis told the parents that if they could present new evidence that changes the situation, he “will be the first to welcome that outcome.”

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