Welcome!

If you have never been to a Catholic church, or if you are new to our area of Kansas City, welcome!

If you and your family have been away from the Catholic Church for some time, welcome back! If you are an active member of our family at St. John Francis Regis, welcome! In short, we are glad you are here.

Come and join us for Holy Mass and be transformed by God’s grace. Participate, go out “into the deep”— get involved. We are truly blessed to have such a Christ-centered, faith-filled community. We invite you to join us and experience this great gift of God. Learn ways you can get involved at St. John Francis Regis by browsing our site, our bulletin, or our Facebook page. Take advantage of the various links and videos and contemplate anew the splendor of our faith alive in our age.

I invite you to consider becoming a registered member of our parish so you can grow in abundant love of God and neighbor. We look forward to seeing you, and may God richly bless you!

In Christ,
Fr. McCaffery

Upcoming Events

Knights of Columbus Officers Meeting

KofC
April 25, 2018 - 7:00pm

First Friday Adoration

May 4, 2018 - 9:00am
Adoration Chapel
First Fridays we have 12 hour Adoration in the Adoration Chapel from 9:00am to 9:00pmRead more

Knights of Columbus General Membership Meeting

KofC
May 9, 2018 - 7:00pm
Rosary at 7:00pm, Meeting starts immediately after the RosaryRead more
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Lent

Preparing for Lent

Saint of the day

April 24, 2018 - 12:00am
A former lawyer who left his profession to become a Capuchin Franciscan priest, Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen has his liturgical memorial on April 24.Fidelis' life bridged the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a time of religious conflict in Western Europe. He died at the hands of a mob while preaching in Switzerland, where he had gone to combat the Calvinist heresy.The future “Fidelis� received the name of Mark Rey at the time of his birth, during 1577 in present-day Germany. Mark studied at the University of Freiburg, and worked for a time as a private tutor. Eventually he went back to the university and earned his law degree around 1611.Though he had already shown signs of devotion to God and studied canon law alongside civil law, Mark opted for a secular career as an attorney. Within a year he was known as “the poor man’s lawyer� because of his concern for the needy. Just as quickly, he became disgusted with the corrupt ways of his chosen field .Leaving his legal practice behind, Mark decided to give his life directly to the service of Christ and the Church. In short order he received ordination as a priest, and joined the Capuchin Franciscans in Freiburg.With his entry into the order he received the name “Fidelis,� meaning “faithful� -- after the words of Jesus Christ in the Book of Revelation, “Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.� As he embraced radical poverty and simplicity, the attorney-turned-Franciscan left his inheritance to a scholarship fund for poor seminarians, who also received his books.Fidelis showed his love for God through prayer and fasting, while caring for his neighbors through preaching, writing, and the celebration of the sacraments. He showed particular care for the poor and sick, and was especially revered for his work among Austrian soldiers who were suffering from a plague epidemic.During 1614 a Swiss Catholic bishop had sought help from the Capuchins, to restore the faith and counteract the spread of Calvinist Protestantism. In 1621, Fidelis was sent on the mission. He brought just four items: a Bible, a prayer book, a crucifix and a copy of the Capuchin rule.The winter of 1621-22 was a busy period of preaching, instruction and theological disputation for the Franciscan priest. He preached not only in the pulpits of Catholic churches, but also in public places, and even in the meeting-places of the Calvinists themselves. Some Swiss Protestants responded with hostility, but many others were also brought back to the Church.Like many cases of religious persecution during this time, Fidelis’ treatment at the hands of the Calvinists did not stem exclusively from doctrinal disagreement. National and cultural tensions also contributed, with many Swiss Protestants suspecting that the Catholic mission was part of an Austrian plot against their nation.This volatile situation boiled over on April 24, 1622, when Fidelis’ preaching provoked a riot at a church in the village of Seewis. Some Austrian soldiers were killed in the uproar, and a would-be assassin shot at the priest.After declining an offer of help from a Protestant, Fidelis was confronted outside the church by a mob, and told to choose between his Catholic beliefs and his life. Fidelis was defiant: “The Catholic religion is the faith of all ages. I fear not death.�St. Fidelis was beaten and stabbed to death. The sight of his martyrdom, however, is said to have converted one of the Protestant preachers who led the mob. A succession of attested miracles led to his canonization in 1746.
April 23, 2018 - 12:00am
Originally given the name of Wojtech, the boy who would be known as St. Adalbert was born to a family of nobility in the Central European region of Bohemia during the mid-900s. When Wojtech became seriously ill during his childhood, his parents resolved that they would offer their son to God as a priest if their prayers for his survival were granted.  Wojtech survived the illness, and his parents sent him to study with Archbishop Adalbert of Magdeburg, a Benedictine missionary who would later be canonized in his own right. The archbishop gave the young student his own name at confirmation, setting an example that the boy would follow in his own life as a bishop, missionary and monk.  The young Adalbert was 25 when his mentor died in 981. He returned to his native Bohemia, where Bishop Deitmar of Prague ordained him a priest two years later. However, the end of Bishop Deitmar’s life provided the young priest with a cautionary example that would remain with him until the end of his life. During his last illness, the bishop became terrified of his impending judgment, confessing that he had neglected his spiritual duties in favor of wealth, honors and pleasure. After watching his bishop die on the verge of despair, Adalbert immediately resolved to live his own life in a more penitential spirit than before. He began wearing a hair-shirt and distributing his money to the poor. Soon, he would be chosen to replace the bishop whose agonizing death had shown him the gravity of spiritual leadership.  Adalbert was consecrated as the Bishop of Prague just months after becoming a priest. “It is an easy thing to wear the mitre and a cross,â€� Adalbert reflected, “but it is a most dreadful circumstance to have an account to give of a bishopric to the judge of the living and the dead.â€�  The bishop took steps to reform the finances of his diocese, ensuring that his own expenses made up only a small portion of the budget. Meanwhile, he slept on the floor, fasted regularly, gave sermons almost daily, and visited poor neighborhoods and prisons.  But in six years of constant prayer, fasting, and preaching, Bishop Adalbert made little headway among the Bohemians. The low point came when he unsuccessfully attempted to shield a woman convicted of adultery from a mob that sought to kill her. He responded by excommunicating the murderers, but the public seemed to favor them rather than the bishop.Frustrated and dejected, Adalbert journeyed to Rome and asked Pope John XV for permission to retire from his diocese in 989. He joined a Roman monastery and purposely took on its most undesirable tasks of work and maintenance.  Five years after Adalbert’s departure, the Archbishop of Mentz – who had consecrated him as a bishop – asked the Pope to send him back to the diocese of Prague. Pope John did so, but made it clear that Adalbert was free to leave if the residents of his diocese continued to resist him. When their former bishop returned, the residents of Prague welcomed him warmly and promised to change their ways. Sadly, however, this promise proved false, and Adalbert came to fear that he might be driven to despair by the rebellious locals. In keeping with the Pope’s provision, he left and became a missionary to the Hungarians.  In the course of his Hungarian missions, Adalbert taught – among many others – King Stephen I, who would later be canonized as St. Stephen of Hungary. Afterward, he returned to the Roman monastery of St. Boniface, where he served in the office of prior. But Adalbert’s consecrator remained insistent that he should return to Prague yet again. Pope Gregory V finally ordered Adalbert to resume his duties as the Bishop of Prague. This time, however, the citizens defied him openly. A Bohemian prince named Boleslaus went so far as to kill several of Adalbert's relatives and burn their homes, to make it clear how unwelcome his presence would be. Nonetheless, Adalbert attempted to obey the Pope’s charge, and sent a message asking whether the other residents of Prague might allow him to return. The response he received indicated he should not come back, and would be in danger if he chose to do so.Rejected by his own people, Adalbert decided to begin a mission to the pagan tribes in Poland and northeastern Germany. He successfully converted many of them, but eventually encountered the same hostility that had driven him from his diocese. This was partly because he denounced the native practices of tree-worship and human sacrifice, but also because he was suspected of being a Polish spy.A pagan priest eventually captured Adalbert and his two companions, binding them and taking them hostage while they slept. Adalbert prayed aloud, offering his own life to God and begging forgiveness for his attackers.“You had it always in your mouth that it was your desire to die for Christ,â€� he heard the pagan priest say, as he stabbed Adalbert in the chest with a lance. Six others proceeded to stab him, and he died of his wounds on April 23, 997.A Polish prince ransomed back St. Adalbert's body from the pagans, exchanging his remains for their weight in gold. His relics were transferred to the Polish city of Gniezno, and kept in the church known as Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Adalbert.
April 22, 2018 - 12:00am
Cauis and Soter, Popes of the early Church, are both venerated in tradition as martyrs, though no reliable account of their martyrdom survives today.St. Soter was born in Fundi, in Italy. The date of his birth is unknown but we know that he was Pope for eight years from 166 until his death in 174.Soter´s papacy was an example of what seems to have been the remarkable tradition of generosity exercised by the bishop of Rome. This tradition and Soter´s personal charity and paternal love for his universal flock can be evidenced from a letter to Pope Soter by Bishop St. Dionysus of Corinth, quoted in the 4th century “Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius�: “This has been your custom from the beginning, to do good in manifold ways to all Christians, and to send contributions to the many churches in every city, in some places relieving the poverty of the needy and ministering to the Christians in the mines, by the contribution which you have sent from the beginning, preserving the ancestral custom of the Romans, true Romans as you are. Your blessed bishop Soter has not only carried on the habit but has even increased it, by administering the bounty distributed to the saints and by exhorting with his blessed words the brethren who come to Rome, as a loving father would his children." (IV, xxiii, 9- 15)In the same letter of Dionysus we learn that Pope Soter had written a letter to the Corinthians which was read in the Church alongside the epistle of St. Clement and was held in high esteem.Though his kindness extended to all persons, he was a fierce opponent of heresy, having been said to have written an encyclical against Montanism – the teachings of a heretical sect which believed that a Christian who had sinned gravely could never be redeemed.Pope St. Caius reigned for 13 years from 283 until his death in 296 just before the Diocletian persecution. He was a relative of the Emperor Diocletian – instigator of one of the last great persecution of Christians in the early years of the Church. Early in his papacy Caius decreed that a man must be a priest before he could be ordained a bishop.He is said to have been driven into hiding in the catacombs for eight years whence he died a confessor, however the source from which this information is gleaned is considered unreliable by most historians.Both St. Soter and St. Caius are buried in the cemetery of St. Calixtus and are venerated on the date of the death of Pope St. Caius.
April 21, 2018 - 12:00am
On April 21, the Catholic Church honors Saint Anselm, the 11th and 12th-century Benedictine monk and archbishop best known for his writings on Christ's atonement and the existence of God.In a general audience given on Sept. 23, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI remembered St. Anselm as “a monk with an intense spiritual life, an excellent teacher of the young, a theologian with an extraordinary capacity for speculation, a wise man of governance and an intransigent defender of the Church's freedom.� St. Anselm, the Pope said, stands out as “one of the eminent figures of the Middle Ages who was able to harmonize all these qualities, thanks to the profound mystical experience that always guided his thought and his action.�Anselm was born in Aosta, part of the Piedmont region of present-day Italy, around 1033. While his father provided little in the way of moral or religious influence, his mother was a notably devout woman and chose to send Anselm to a school run by the Benedictine order. The boy felt a profound religious calling during these years, spurred in part by a dream in which he met and conversed with God. His father, however, prevented him from becoming a monk at age 15. This disappointment was followed by a period of severe illness, as well as his mother's early death. Unable to join the monks, and tired of mistreatment by his father, Anselm left home and wandered throughout parts of France and Italy for three years. His life regained its direction in Normandy, where he met the Benedictine prior Lanfranc of Pavia and became his disciple.Lanfranc recognized his pupil's intellectual gifts and encouraged his vocation to religious life. Accepted into the order and ordained a priest at age 27, Anselm succeeded his teacher as prior in1063 when Lanfranc was called to become abbot of another monastery.Anselm became abbot of his own monastery in1079. During the previous decade the Normans had conquered England, and they sought to bring monks from Normandy to influence the Church in the country. Lanfranc became Archbishop of Canterbury, and asked Anselm to come and assist him.The period after Lanfranc's death, in the late 1080s, was a difficult time for the English Church. As part of his general mistreatment of the Church, King William Rufus refused to allow the appointment of a new archbishop. Anselm had gone back to his monastery, and did not want to return to England. In 1092, however, he was persuaded to do so. The following year, the king changed his mind and allowed Anselm to become Archbishop of Canterbury. But the monk was extremely reluctant to accept the charge, which would involve him in further struggles with the English crown in subsequent years.For a three-year period in the early 12th century, Anselm's insistence on the self-government of the Church – against the claims of the state to its administration and property – caused him to be exiled from England. But he was successful in his struggle, and returned to his archdiocese in 1106.In his last years, Anselm worked to reform the Church and continued his theological investigations – following the motto of “faith seeking understanding.� After his death in 1109, his influence on the subsequent course of theology led Pope Clement XI to name him a Doctor of the Church in 1720.
April 20, 2018 - 12:00am
On April 20, Eastern Catholics of the Byzantine tradition honor Saint Anastasius of Sinai, a seventh-century monk and priest known for his scriptural commentaries and defenses of Church teaching. The Roman Catholic Church has traditionally celebrated St. Anastasius on the following day, April 21, though this memorial is not widely celebrated in modern times. The Eastern Orthodox churches, meanwhile, commemorate him on the same date as their Eastern Catholic counterparts. Even within the Eastern Christian tradition, St. Anastasius' legacy has been somewhat obscured by the renown of other authors. In his own era, however, the Sianite's writings were acclaimed as the work of a “new Moses.� At least one of his works, the “Hodegos� (or “Guide�), remained in use within the Greek Church for many centuries. No extensive biography of Anastasius exists, and it is unclear whether he was born in Egypt (as some traditional accounts relate) or in Cyprus. His date of birth is also unknown. In his own writings, Anastasius speaks of being captivated by the proclamation of the Gospel during church services, and being awestruck by Christ's Eucharistic presence as a young man. He eventually made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and took up residence as a monk on Mount Sinai in Egypt around the middle of the seventh century. He eventually became the abbot of St. Catherine's Monastery. Anastasius' life was outwardly uneventful in most respects, though he did leave his monastic cell to defend the Church's teachings against heresy and error. He met or learned about many holy men in the course of his travels, and described their lives in writings that survive to this day. Among Anastasius' doctrinal opponents were the monophysites, who were in error regarding Jesus' divine and human natures; and the monothelites, who professed a related error regarding Christ's human and divine wills. Though he was not the most important opponent of either heresy, Anastasius' contributions earned him a place among the Church Fathers in the Eastern tradition. The monk of Sinai also defended the Christian faith against Jewish objections. In one of his major works, the “Commentary on the Six Days of Creation� (or “Hexaemeron�), he explained how the first three chapters of Genesis predicted and prefigured the coming of Jesus Christ. Other surviving writings by the saint include his homilies, and a series of “Questions and Answers� addressing pastoral matters. St. Anastasius is said to have lived to an old age, and attained to great holiness through prayer and asceticism, by the time of his death sometime after the year 700. Some confusion has resulted from the conjunction of his Eastern feast day, April 20, with that of another saint who was also named Anastasius and associated with Mount Sinai. But this other St. Anastasius, though celebrated on the same date, lived earlier and led the Church of Antioch.
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Daily Readings

April 24, 2018 - 1:00am
7 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: `The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens.
8 "`I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut; I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
10 Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial which is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell upon the earth.
11 I am coming soon; hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
12 He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
April 24, 2018 - 1:00am
8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel,
9 the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal. But the word of God is not fettered.
10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.
11 The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we shall also live with him;
12 if we endure, we shall also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful -- for he cannot deny himself.
10 Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,
11 my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at Ico'nium, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.
12 Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
April 24, 2018 - 1:00am
137 Righteous art thou, O LORD, and right are thy judgments.
138 Thou hast appointed thy testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness.
139 My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget thy words.
140 Thy promise is well tried, and thy servant loves it.
141 I am small and despised, yet I do not forget thy precepts.
142 Thy righteousness is righteous for ever, and thy law is true.
143 Trouble and anguish have come upon me, but thy commandments are my delight.
144 Thy testimonies are righteous for ever; give me understanding that I may live.
April 24, 2018 - 1:00am
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,
15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.
April 23, 2018 - 1:00am
1 Now the apostles and the brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.
2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him,
3 saying, "Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?"
4 But Peter began and explained to them in order:
5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, something descending, like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came down to me.
6 Looking at it closely I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air.
7 And I heard a voice saying to me, `Rise, Peter; kill and eat.'
8 But I said, `No, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.'
9 But the voice answered a second time from heaven, `What God has cleansed you must not call common.'
10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven.
11 At that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesare'a.
12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brethren also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house.
13 And he told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, `Send to Joppa and bring Simon called Peter;
14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.'
15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning.
16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, `John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?"
18 When they heard this they were silenced. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life."
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Catholic News

April 24, 2018 - 3:59pm

London, England, Apr 24, 2018 / 02:59 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Ailing toddler Alfie Evans will not be permitted to fly to Rome for additional treatment, a judge ruled on Tuesday during an emergency hearing.

The emergency hearing came the day after Evans’ life support machine was removed, then oxygen and hydration were readminsitered when the boy survived for several hours, contrary to the prediction of doctors.

Judge Anthony Hayden of the High Court said that this will be the “final chapter in the case of this extraordinary little boy.”

New: Alfie Evans family has lost its legal challenge to fly him to Italy for treatment in what judge calls the “final chapter in the case of this extraordinary little boy”

— Josh Halliday (@JoshHalliday) April 24, 2018 Earlier this week, Evans had been granted Italian citizenship in hopes that this would convince the court to allow him to be sent to Rome to be treated at the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital. The judge, however, ruled that this would not be within his best interest and he would not be allowed to travel to Rome or Munich, where another hospital had offered to treat him. An air ambulance had been at the ready to quickly transport Evans to Italy had the judge approved the transfer.

Instead, Evans will remain at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, or may eventually be permitted to return home with his parents.

Evans is a 23-month-old toddler who is in what physicians have described as a “semi-vegetative state” due to a mysterious degenerative neurological condition that doctors at Alder Hey Hospital have not been able to properly diagnose. He has been hospitalized since December of 2016.

In March, London’s Court of Appeal upheld a lower court’s decision to end life support for Evans. Judge Hayden of the High Court ruled that “continued ventilator support is no longer in Alfie’s interests.”

Evans’ parents, Kate James and Tom Evans, had repeatedly made requests to transfer him to the Vatican-linked Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital in Rome, for further diagnosis and treatment.

They said that Evans had recently grown “stronger and more responsive,” noting that he could take a few breaths on his own and was stretching, coughing, swallowing, and yawning. However, Alder Hey Hospital repeatedly refused the transfer, deeming it “futile.”

Until Monday, doctors did not believe that he was capable of breathing on his own, but he surprised his doctors by surviving the night breathing unaided after the removal of his ventilator. According to his father, doctors eventually gave Evans water and supplemental oxygen, but the child has not been given nutrition for nearly a day.

“Coming up to 24 hours (without breathing assistance) and he’s fighting,” said his father, Tom Evans. “Gorgeous features, pink lips, handsome grown up face, an odd cheeky smile now and again.”

Evans’ father traveled to Rome to meet with Pope Francis on April 18. He pled for asylum for his family in Italy, so that his son could be moved.

Pope Francis had offered prayers for Evans and his family several times, including at a general audience and in several Twitter posts.

“Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted,” he said on Twitter Monday.

Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.

— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 23, 2018 On April 23, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti granted citizenship to the toddler, in hopes that being an Italian citizen would allow the child to be transferred to Italy immediately.

Evans’ supporters--who include bishops, members of parliament, and other prominent figures--have dubbed themselves “Alfie’s Army” to spread awareness and to provide encouragement for the family.

In recent days, protesters numbering in the hundreds had swarmed around Alder Hey Hospital, calling on the institution to respect the rights of Evans’ parents and allow him to be transferred.

Friends, let's join with the Holy Father in praying for this poor boy and his family. May God bless them! https://t.co/bN4yllRNKk

— Bishop Robert Barron (@BishopBarron) April 24, 2018  

 

A UK hospital is holding an Italian citizen hostage and intends to deprive him of life-giving treatment against the wishes of his parents. @BorisJohnson & @foreignoffice must act quickly to let Alfie live. https://t.co/rJtMBGXhzs @ItalyinUK #AlfieEvans #AlfiesArmy

— Sir Edward Leigh MP (@EdwardLeighMP) April 23, 2018  



Let’s offer heartfelt prayers today for little Alfie Evans - now an Italian citizen - and his courageous parents. If there is anything at all that can be done, may the Lord enable us by His love and grace to effect it.

— Bishop Philip Egan (@BishopEgan) April 23, 2018



 

April 24, 2018 - 2:08pm

Managua, Nicaragua, Apr 24, 2018 / 01:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As violent clashes continue between security forces and anti-government protestors in Nicaragua, an eye witness has said the country's underlying problem is the president's authoritarian bent.

Nicaraguans began protesting in the streets of Managua April 18 following the government’s announcement of reforms to the country’s social security system. The army has been deployed and as many as 27 people have been killed.

The social security reforms were abandoned April 22 by president Daniel Ortega, but protests have increased over what is seen as an overly harsh response to protesting pensioners.

Nicaragua “is living under a dictatorship with the facade of democracy,” a priest working in the country told CNA.

“We could see a transition to peaceful negotiation in the coming days and an end to protests on the street and violent repression. Or we could see an accelerated effort to amplify the protests and fight for a complete take down of the Ortega regime.”

The priest spoke on condition of anonymity due to the unpredictability of the situation.

“The continued aggression and violence on the part of the government continues to incite people to protest. One step forward followed by two steps back,” he said.

A reporter was killed during a broadcast covering the protests over the weekend, and the priest believes that  the government’s strong reaction against protestors, and in particular students – including the use of tear gas and rubber bullets by riot police – motivated the latest round of protests Monday.

Nicaragua's social security system has needed an overhaul due to poor management of funds and a lack of transparency from officials, the priest said.

However, the reforms proposed last week would make Nicaraguans pay for these errors: “it was a trigger for massive protests,” he said, pointing out that though social security reforms lit the fire, the conversation surrounding the protests has changed.

The plan would have required retirees to pay 5 percent of their pension into a medical expenses fund, the social security withdrawal from employees' salaries would have increased from 6.25 to 7 percent, and employers would have had to increase contributions as well.

Though the reform was tossed out, larger-scale protests and looting broke out April 23, including demands for Ortega to resign and resulting in further violent clashes with police.

The priest said he believes older Nicaraguans had been reluctant to protest corruption because they feared violence, having lived through the Nicaraguan Revolution throughout the 1960s, '70s, and '80s.

Young people, on the other hand, “feel like it is their turn, to take up the mantle of their parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, to fight for a better future for Nicaragua.”

Bishop Silvio José Baez Ortega, Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, thanked a group of some 2,000 students gathered in the Managua cathedral April 21 for being “the moral reservoir” of the Church and assured them of the Church’s support for their cause. “You have woken the nation up,” he said.

Fr. Víctor Rivas Bustamante, from the Nicaragua bishops’ conference, told Vatican News that the local bishops are “working to recover the concerns and demands of young people and of different social sectors, to lay out to the government what is being demanded so that the government can act and change its position.”

The problem is no longer just welfare reform, but “other issues: there is talk of democracy, freedom of expression, and many other things,” Bustamante said.

Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014. His wife, Rosario Murillo, is also his vice president.

He was a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which had ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and fought US-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s. Ortega was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1985 as coordinator of the Junta of National Reconstruction, and from 1985 to 1990 as president.

April 24, 2018 - 1:57pm

Toronto, Canada, Apr 24, 2018 / 12:57 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto offered prayers this week for the victims of a van attack that left 10 people dead and over a dozen injured on Monday.

“I invite the Catholic community across the Archdiocese of Toronto to join me in offering our prayers for all those who were killed and injured in the violence incident earlier today,” said Cardinal Collins in an April 23 statement.

“I will be asking all 225 Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Toronto to offer special prayer intentions this week for all those who have suffered. Let us all unite in our efforts to bring comfort and care to those who are hurting today,” he continued.

On April 23, a white van was driven down a busy street north of midtown Toronto, swerving in and out of traffic along the sidewalks and leaving a trail of destruction almost a mile long. One witness, Diego DeMatos, said the scene was like “a war zone,” according to reports from CNN. 

“Based on witness accounts, we have a vehicle that started north on Yonge Street from Finch [Avenue] and drove southbound at some point in times on sidewalks, at some point in times driving southbound in northbound lanes,” said Mark Saunders, the Toronto police chief, according to CNN.

Although authorities have not labeled the incident as an act of terrorism at this time, and are still investigating the motive behind it, Saunders did note that the “actions definitely look deliberate.”

Police arrested 25-year-old suspect Alek Minassianseveral blocks from the scene of the attack, less than 30 minutes after authorities had received a 911 call.

Minassian was charged on Tuesday in a Toronto court with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder, the BBC reported. Minassian’s bail hearing will be held on May 10.

Toronto officials said Minassian, who is from the northern Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill, had not previously been on their radar. However, a U.S. law enforcement agent said that the suspect had been known to them.

The death toll from the incident currently stands at 10, while 15 others have been injured, including at least five who are in critical condition, according to reports. Mourners have set up a makeshift memorial on Yonge Street where part of the attack took place.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his condolences to the victims and their families, and applauded the first responders for their quick and life-saving efforts.

“We should all feel safe walking in our cities,” Trudeau said.

“We are monitoring this situation closely, and will continue working with our law enforcement partners around the country to ensure the safety and security of all Canadians.”

 

April 24, 2018 - 12:12pm

Rome, Italy, Apr 24, 2018 / 11:12 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At the age of 16, Deborah Kloos was a distraught young woman who turned to the Church in hopes of finding solace, peace, and a reprieve from a “dysfunctional” and complicated family life.

She attended Mass often and sought comfort in the Eucharist. But she was sexually abused by a parish priest in Ontario.

After years of living with anger, sadness, and guilt, Kloos made her way back to the Church and was able to find healing through the sacraments. Now, she wants the Church to make praying for abuse survivors a priority.

She believes the Church has made progress on the abuse front, and has said that for real healing to happen, learning to forgive is key, as is keeping a positive attitude about the concrete efforts the Church is making.

“If we want to heal and make progress in healing we have to open up our hearts, pray together, communicate with one another, forgive one another, focus on the small changes in progress because they all count,” Kloos told CNA.

The Church “has made a lot of progress on the issue of clerical sexual abuse,” she said. “I know people are hurting deeply for this irreparable damage done as a result of clergy abuse and I know how painful it is as an abuse survivor.”

“When an infected wound like clergy abuse is covered up, it will fester and eventually will explode,” she said. “Only until the pus and ugliness is out of the wound, can it begin a healing process. It takes time, but we have to pray together and talk about it.”

Everyone deals with the trauma differently, she said, noting that in many cases people affected by abuse will likely never come back to the Catholic Church or bring their families to Mass.

“It is such a huge wound that only God can help with healing,” Kloos said, explaining that it is important for people to look at the progress that has been made and to “respect one another, because we are all human beings who are not perfect. We need God.”

Kloos, who lives in Canada with her husband, stopped attending Mass after she was sexually abused by a 63-year-old priest at her parish.

After the abuse happened, Kloos said she felt “sad and frustrated,” and was estranged from the Church for 20 years before eventually coming back when she enrolled her son in Catholic school.

“I carried a lot of guilt for years,” she said, but explained that she wanted her son to learn about God, so she put her son in Catholic school and started attending the school Masses. Eventually she began attending Mass everyday, and joined her parish choir.

The whole process “was emotionally hard for me, because I still carried so much anger and sadness, but I kept attending Mass,” she said, explaining that “the times I felt saddest and angry, I would feel this warm, supernatural light around me like a spiritual hug, like the Lord was hugging me and asking me to stay in the Church and not give up.”

However, Kloos said that after coming back to the Church, it was still hard for her to feel fully welcomed, because those wounded by abuse were not yet prayed for during Mass.

She began sending letters to her bishop in the Diocese of London, asking him to offer a Mass for victims of clerical abuse. For seven years she wrote with the same request, and she also made rosaries which she sent to clergy asking them to pray for those who have been wounded by abuse and who are far away from the Church.

She spoke of the importance of receiving the Eucharist, and lamented the fact that there are “thousands of people wounded by clergy and generations of people who may never enter a church again because of the irreparable damage caused by abuse that separated them from the Eucharist.”

There are many people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, who struggle with mental health problems, families have broken up and there have been suicides, “all caused by abuse,” she said, stressing that this is why prayer is so necessary, yet often times the issue is still too taboo to talk about publicly in the Church.

“People just did not know how to deal with this,” she said.

“It is uncomfortable. I understand this. It hurts to acknowledge and talk about sin and abuse in the Church, but only when we pray together and bring the darkness into the Light, by asking God to help us, can communication, forgiveness, and healing occur.”

When the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was established in March 2014, Kloos began writing to members voicing her desire for a day of prayer for abuse survivors. She also sent them artwork she had made as a way to heal and show how she found hope.

In 2016 the commission recommended that a day of prayer for abuse survivors be established, and Pope Francis accepted the proposal, asking that it be organized at a local level.

In the London diocese, the day of prayer was held on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, and “it was beautiful.” Kloos voiced her gratitude to the clerics of her diocese for organizing the now-annual Mass, saying she believes they are doing their best, and are trying to move in the right direction.

“They are good people in my diocese and I care about them,” she said. “We have really dedicated clergy in the diocese. I feel it is important to focus on the positives and when people change for the better, then we should encourage them because a change of attitude and behavior takes time.”

Kloos has maintained close correspondence with members of the pontifical commission, including Fr. Hans Zollner SJ, head of the Center for Child Protection.

Commission members “need encouragement and positive support from people, especially clergy abuse survivors,” she explained. The members “work hard and need lots of prayer and support. I want to give them this support as a clergy abuse survivor and thank them.”

Kloos said she believes that while there is still more that needs to be done to prevent abuse and help survivors heal, the Church has made progress.

Citing guidelines and safety policies that have been put into place as well as suggestions for tougher screenings for Church employees and free counseling for clergy abuse survivors, Kloos said these are “huge changes” that she appreciates.

She also pointed to a course organized by the Center for Child Protection on the dangers of abuse in the digital world, and the degrees in child safety being offered by the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

Kloos voiced appreciation for Pope Francis' recent apology for having made “serious mistakes” in the Chilean sexual abuse case.

Francis “had the courage to admit what he said was wrong to the Chilean abuse survivors and is meeting them now to apologize personally.”

She voiced her hope that the Church will continue to pray more intentionally for abuse survivors, especially during Mass.

Prayer “changes hearts to enable forgiveness and healing to occur, it opens up communication between people and asks God for help for the irreparable damage of clergy abuse that people feel uncomfortable talking about.”

“I understand that clergy abuse is something very painful for everyone, especially clergy, so they need lots of prayers and support too,” Kloos said.

In terms of learning how to talk about the issue more and make it less of a taboo subject, Kloos said she knows it will take time, because people “feel uncomfortable, threatened, afraid, and it is just human nature.”

“All that matters is that the right thing is done and that people work together for healing to make our Church better.”

April 24, 2018 - 4:00am

New York City, N.Y., Apr 24, 2018 / 03:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Disability rights activists are speaking out in opposition to a proposal in New York that would legalize physician assisted suicide.

The Medical Aid in Dying Act, or bill A.2383-A, would amend the current public health law to legalize assisted suicide for mentally competent, terminally ill patients in the state of New York. The bill was heard in the New York Assembly Health Committee on Monday, where a number of opposing groups testified against it.

“The mere suggestion that disability acquired as the result of illness is cause enough to end one’s life is a devaluation of disabled peoples’ lives, and it’s offensive,” said Kathryn Carroll, an attorney and policy analyst with the Center for Disability Rights, who was invited to testify at Monday’s hearing.

“Our focus should be on expanding access to services and supports that allow people to live with dignity, rather than assisting their suicide,” Carroll continued.

She warned of the danger posed by economic incentives for insurance companies and caregivers to push assisted suicide on the terminally ill as the cheaper option, instead of longer term end-of-life care.

“As long as these external influences exist, the promise of a choice to end one’s life is a lie,” Carroll said.

Carroll was joined by other disability advocates, including Mel Tanzman, the executive director of Westchester Disabled on the Move and the chair of the health committee at the New York Association on Independent Living.

Tanzman gave his testimony on Monday on behalf of over 40 organizations who serve individuals with disabilities in the state of New York.

“Fears of becoming disabled and facing functional loss, whether the cause is injury or illness, are often reported by doctors as reasons patients request assisted suicide in states where it is legal,” Tanzman said.

“The disability community strongly opposes the belief that requiring the assistance of another individual for activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing and toileting, is undignified or a legitimate reason for New York State to legalize physician assisted suicide,” he continued.

Tanzman additionally pointed to the possibility of “coercion and abuse” in such legislation, noting reports that similar assisted suicide measures in other states have experienced “ineffectual safeguards” against abuses for the terminally ill or disabled.

The bill’s New York City hearing is scheduled to take place on May 3, where Not Dead Yet, a disability rights activist group, will be testifying.

The Medical Aid in Dying Act is not the first attempt to legalize physician assisted suicide within New York. Last fall, an appeals court in the state ruled against a lawsuit which stated that citizens have a right to choose doctor-assisted suicide.

The lawsuit claimed that the state’s law against helping another individual commit suicide does not apply to doctor-assisted death, arguing that the ban on physician assisted suicide is unconstitutional because it denies patients the right to self-determination.

However, seven judges of the New York Court of Appeals unanimously shut down the case, saying the current law against assisting with suicide did not make exceptions for doctors. The judges also said the measure would induce undue pressure on terminal patients to end their lives.

Physician assisted suicide is now legal in a handful of states, including California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

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