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

Acts: The Spread of the Kingdom

DVD presentations by Jeff Cavins and Sarah Christmeyer
July 24, 2018 - 9:00am
Mary's Room
Continue on the journey with this 20-week study of Acts of the Apostles and the story of the earliest days of the Church.Read more

Knights of Columbus Officers Meeting

KofC
July 25, 2018 - 7:00pm

Acts: The Spread of the Kingdom

DVD presentations by Jeff Cavins and Sarah Christmeyer
July 31, 2018 - 9:00am
Mary's Room
Continue on the journey with this 20-week study of Acts of the Apostles and the story of the earliest days of the Church.Read more
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Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

RCIA Program

Saint of the day

July 20, 2018 - 12:00am
Saint Margaret, whose feast is celebrated on July 20, is a virgin and martyr. She is also called "Marina". Margaret belonged to Pisidian Antioch in Asia Minor, where her father was a pagan priest. Her mother died soon after Margaret's birth, so she was nursed by a pious woman who lived about five or six leagues from Antioch. Having embraced Christianity and consecrated her virginity to God, she was disowned by her father and adopted by her nurse.  One day, while she was engaged in watching the flocks of her mistress, a lustful Roman prefect named Olybrius caught sight of her, and attracted by her great beauty sought to make her his concubine or wife. When neither cajolery nor threats of punishment could succeed in moving her to yield to his desires, he had her brought before him in public trial at Antioch. Threatened with death unless she renounced the Christian faith, the holy virgin refused to adore the gods of the empire. An attempt was made to burn her, but the flames, we are told in her Acts, left her unharmed. She was then bound hand and foot and thrown into a cauldron of boiling water, but at her prayer her bonds were broken and she stood up uninjured. Finally the prefect ordered her to be beheaded.  The Greek Church honors her under the name Marine on July13, and the Latin, as Margaret on July 20. Her Acts place her death in the persecution of Diocletian (A.D. 303-5), but in fact even the century to which she belonged is uncertain. St. Margaret is represented in art sometimes as a shepherdess, or as leading a chained dragon, again carrying a little cross or a girdle in her hand, or standing by a large vessel which recalls the cauldron into which she was plunged. Relics said to belong to the saint are venerated in very many parts of Europe; at Rome, Montefiascone, Brusels, Bruges, Paris, Froidmont, Troyes, and various other places. Curiously enough this virgin has been widely venerated for many centuries as a special patron of women who are pregnant.
July 18, 2018 - 12:00am
On July 18 the U.S. Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of Saint Camillus de Lellis, who turned from his life as a soldier and gambler to become the founder of an order dedicated to caring for the sick. In some other countries, he is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, July 14. Camillus was born during 1550 in the Abruzzo region of Naples in present-day Italy. His mother died during his infancy, and he lost his father, a former army officer, six years later. The young man took after his late father professionally, serving in the armies of Venice and Naples until 1574. During his military service Camillus developed a severe gambling problem. He repented of the habit in 1575, when he found himself impoverished and forced to do menial work for a group of Franciscans. In February of that year he resolved to change his life and soon sought to join the order. A wound in one of his legs, however, was seen as incurable and kept him from becoming a Franciscan. After this rejection, he traveled to Rome and worked for four years in a hospice. Committed to a life of prayer and penance, he wore a hair shirt and received spiritual direction from St. Philip Neri. Grieved by the quality of service given to the sick, Camillus decided to form an association of Catholics who would provide them with both physical and spiritual care. He studied for the priesthood, and was ordained in 1584. Members of his order worked in hospitals, prisons, and in the homes of those afflicted by disease. The order's original name, the “Fathers of a Good Death,� reflected the desire to aid in their spiritual salvation and prepare the dying to receive their last rites. Later known as the Order of the Ministers of the Sick, or simply as the “Camillians,� the group received papal approval in 1586 and was confirmed as a religious order in 1591. In addition to the traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, they took a vow of unfailing service to the sick. Camillus himself suffered physical ailments throughout his life. His leg wound failed to heal over the course of almost five decades, in addition to which he suffered from sores and severe kidney trouble. But he is said to have spent time with the sick even while unable to walk, by crawling from bed to bed. The founder of the Ministers of the Sick lived to assist at a general chapter of his order in Rome during 1613, and to make a last visitation of many of their hospitals. Learning that he himself was incurably ill, Camillus responded: “I rejoice in what has been told me. We shall go into the house of the Lord.�Receiving the Eucharist for the last time, he declared: “O Lord, I confess I am the most wretched of sinners, most undeserving of your favor; but save me by your infinite goodness. My hope is placed in your divine mercy through your precious blood.�After giving his last instructions to his fellow Ministers of the Sick, St. Camillus de Lellis died on July 14, 1614. He was canonized by Benedict XIV in 1746, and later named – along with Saint John of God – as one of the two main co-patrons of nurses and nursing associations in 1930.
July 17, 2018 - 12:00am
A contemporary of the American Revolution and of Blessed Junipero Serra, Francisco Garcés was born in 1738 in Spain, where he joined the Franciscans.After ordination in 1763, he was sent to Mexico. Five years later he was assigned to San Xavier del Bac near Tucson, one of several missions the Jesuits had founded in Arizona and New Mexico before being expelled in 1767 from all territories controlled by the Catholic king of Spain. In Arizona, Francisco worked among the Papago, Yuma, Pima and Apache Native Americans. His missionary travels took him to many places, including the Grand Canyon and California.Friar Francisco Palou, a contemporary, writes that Father Garcés was greatly loved by the indigenous peoples, among whom he lived unharmed for a long time. They regularly gave him food and referred to him as "Viva Jesus," which was the greeting he taught them to use.For the sake of their indigenous converts, the Spanish missionaries wanted to organize settlements away from the Spanish soldiers and colonists. But the commandant in Mexico insisted that two new missions on the Colorado River, Misión San Pedro y San Pablo and Misión La Purísima Concepción, be mixed settlements.A revolt among the Yumas against the Spanish left Friars Juan Diaz and Matias Moreno dead at Misión San Pedro y San Pablo. Friars Francisco Garcés and Juan Barreneche were killed at Misión La Purísima Concepción, the site of Fort Yuma.
July 16, 2018 - 12:00am
July 16 is the day that the Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Mount Caramel. Mount Carmel is the mountain in the middle of the plain of Galilee on which the prophet Elijah called down a miracle of fire from the Lord, to show the people of Israel who had strayed that "The Lord is God!" and that the prophets of Baal were worshipping a false god.There is a tradition that traces the Carmelite Order's informal beginnings to the prophet Elijah himself, even though there is no evidence of this.The formal beginnings are attributed to a group of monks who, in the 13th century, began living and praying on the mountain. They venerated the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and from this verenration was derived the name Carmelite.In 1226 the rule of the order was apporved by Pope Honorius III, and 21 years later St. Simon Stock, an Englishman, was elected superior of the order. On July 16, 1251, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Simon and gave him the brown scapular and promised her protection to all those who wear the brown habit.Pope Pius X decreed in the early 20th century that this blessing of the Blessed Virgin would extend to all who wear the medal of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was instituted by the Carmelites sometime between 1376 and 1386.
July 15, 2018 - 12:00am
Today, July 15, marks the feast day of St. Bonaventure, who is called “The Seraphic Doctorâ€� of the Church. St. Bonaventure is known for his leadership of the Franciscans and his great intellectual contributions to theology and philosophy.St. Bonaventure was born in Bagnorea in Tuscany, Italy. He is widely believed to have been born in the year 1221, although some accounts say 1217.Sources recount that in his youth, St. Bonaventure was cured of a dangerous illness by the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi. He went on to join the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor in 1243. After making his vows, he was sent to complete his studies in Paris. He was taught first by Alexander of Hales, an English doctor and Franciscan, and later by John of Rochelle. While in Paris, he became good friends with St. Thomas Aquinas, with whom he received the degree of Doctor. He also developed a friendship with St. Louis, King of France.In 1257, St. Bonaventure was chosen to serve as the superior of the Friars Minor. In this position, which he filled for 17 years, he brought peace and order. His impact was so great that today he is sometimes referred to as the second founder of the Franciscans.Taking on the position after a period of extraordinary expansion for the order, St. Bonaventure worked to preserve a spirit of unity. He calmed the threat of internal dissension that arose over differences in interpreting the message of St. Francis of Assisi. Central to this work was his understanding that the study of philosophy and theology did not oppose the call to poverty that was so central to Franciscan spirituality.St. Bonaventure proposed a unified and collected text regulating the daily life of the Friars Minor. The text was accepted and ratified in 1260 by the General Chapter of the Order in Narbonne.Wishing to present an authentic image of the life and teaching of their founder, he zealously collected documents about St. Francis of Assisi and heard testimonies of those who had actually known him. From this information, he compiled a biography of the saint that was adopted as his official biography by the General Chapter of the Friars Minor in 1263.St. Bonaventure also wrote numerous mystical and ascetical treatises, most famously, “The Soul's Journey into God.â€�In 1273, he was appointed by Pope Gregory X as Cardinal and Bishop of Albano. The Pope also asked him to help prepare the Second Ecumenical Council of Lyons, an ecclesial event aimed at re-establishing communion between the Latin and Greek Churches. St. Bonaventure worked to prepare the Ecumenical Council, but never saw its completion. He died on July 15, 1274, while the council was still in session. He was canonized in 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV.In his General Audience on March 3, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the life of St. Bonaventure. He called to mind the great works of literature, art, philosophy and theology that were inspired by the Christian faith during the time period in which the saint lived. “Among the great Christian figures who contributed to the composition of this harmony between faith and culture Bonaventure stands out, a man of action and contemplation, of profound piety and prudent government,â€� Pope Benedict said.The Pope called on the faithful to take note of “the central role that Christ always played in Bonaventure's life and teaching,â€� and to imitate the way in which “the whole of his thinking was profoundly Christocentric.â€� "Meditation on Christ in His humanity is corporeal in deed, in fact, but spiritual in mind. . . . By adopting this habit, you will steady your mind, be trained to virtues, and receive strength of soul....Let meditation of Christ's life be your one and only aim, your rest, your food, your desire, your study."  -  St. Bonaventure
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Daily Readings

July 20, 2018 - 1:00am
1 In those days Hezeki'ah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, "Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order; for you shall die, you shall not recover."
2 Then Hezeki'ah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the LORD,
3 and said, "Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in thy sight." And Hezeki'ah wept bitterly.
4 Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah:
5 "Go and say to Hezeki'ah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.
6 I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and defend this city.
7 "This is the sign to you from the LORD, that the LORD will do this thing that he has promised:
8 Behold, I will make the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of Ahaz turn back ten steps." So the sun turned back on the dial the ten steps by which it had declined.
21 Now Isaiah had said, "Let them take a cake of figs, and apply it to the boil, that he may recover."
22 Hezeki'ah also had said, "What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the LORD?"
July 20, 2018 - 1:00am
10 I said, In the noontide of my days I must depart; I am consigned to the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years.
11 I said, I shall not see the LORD in the land of the living; I shall look upon man no more among the inhabitants of the world.
12 My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me like a shepherd's tent; like a weaver I have rolled up my life; he cuts me off from the loom; from day to night thou dost bring me to an end;
16 O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit. Oh, restore me to health and make me live!
July 20, 2018 - 1:00am
1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the sabbath; his disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.
2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, "Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the sabbath."
3 He said to them, "Have you not read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him:
4 how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?
5 Or have you not read in the law how on the sabbath the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are guiltless?
6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.
7 And if you had known what this means, `I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless.
8 For the Son of man is lord of the sabbath."
July 18, 2018 - 1:00am
5 Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger, the staff of my fury!
6 Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.
7 But he does not so intend, and his mind does not so think; but it is in his mind to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few;
13 For he says: "By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I have removed the boundaries of peoples, and have plundered their treasures; like a bull I have brought down those who sat on thrones.
14 My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as men gather eggs that have been forsaken so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing, or opened the mouth, or chirped."
15 Shall the axe vaunt itself over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!
16 Therefore the Lord, the LORD of hosts, will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire.
July 18, 2018 - 1:00am
5 They crush thy people, O LORD, and afflict thy heritage.
6 They slay the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless;
7 and they say, "The LORD does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive."
8 Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise?
9 He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?
10 He who chastens the nations, does he not chastise? He who teaches men knowledge,
14 For the LORD will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage;
15 for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.
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Catholic News

July 20, 2018 - 7:03am

Vatican City, Jul 20, 2018 / 06:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Juan José Pineda, auxiliary bishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, following a Vatican investigation into accusations of financial mismanagement and sexual misconduct against seminarians.

The bishop, 57, has long been the subject of accusations of financial misdealings, as well as rumors that he offered support to a male companion using archdiocesan funds. He serves under papal advisor and archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga, who has also been accused of financial misconduct.

In March, the National Catholic Register reported that two former seminarians had also submitted personal testimonies to the Vatican accusing Pineda of serious sexual misconduct and of attempting unwanted sexual relations.

The July 20 announcement of Pineda’s resignation provided no explanation, stating only that it had been accepted by Pope Francis.

At the pope’s request, in May 2017, the Vatican carried out an investigation into the allegations of financial mismanagement within the archdiocese and the sexual misconduct allegations involving Bishop Pineda.

In an email interview with CNA in December 2017, Maradiaga confirmed there was an apostolic visit made to Pineda but defended the bishop, saying Pineda himself “asked the Holy Father for an apostolic visit, in order to clear his name.”

Maradiaga, who is head of the pope’s Council of Cardinals and one of Francis’ closest advisors, also denied any financial wrongdoing on his own part, calling a report by Italian weekly L’Espresso published Dec. 21, 2017, “defamatory” and “half-truths, that are in the end the worse lies.”

The L’Espresso article said Maradiaga was accused of receiving $600,000 from the University of Tegucigalpa in 2015, as a sort of “salary” for being the chancellor of the University - an unusual although not forbidden practice - and that the cardinal had lost nearly $1.2 million of Church funds through investments in some London financial companies.

The papal investigation was carried out by Argentine Bishop Alcides Jorge Pedro Casaretto, who, according to L’Espresso, interviewed staff of the archdiocese and university, as well as seminarians, priests and the cardinal’s driver and secretary.

Allegations against Pineda include the building of an apartment on the campus of the Catholic University of Honduras to house a male companion. According to the Register, the two seminarians who accused Pineda of unwanted sexual advances also claimed that he took punitive action against them after his advances were not accepted.

Pineda, who was auxiliary bishop of Tegucigalpa since 2005, had been overseeing the archdiocese since January, while Maradiaga is in the U.S. to receive treatment for prostate cancer.

Born in Tegucigalpa in 1960, Pineda is a member of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary religious order. He was ordained a priest in 1988.

July 20, 2018 - 6:39am

Dublin, Ireland, Jul 20, 2018 / 05:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With less than a month to go until Pope Francis visits Dublin for the World Meeting of Families, organizers are moving forward with spiritual preparations as well as the practical, and have called for some 4,000 Eucharistic ministers to serve at the event's closing Mass.

According to the Archdiocese of Dublin, around 500,000 people are expected for the closing Mass in Phoenix Park Aug. 26, which will be celebrated by Pope Francis, who will arrive in Dublin the previous day to close the week-long event.

To ensure all attendees have access to communion at Mass, the archdiocese sent an appeal July 17 for some 4,000 Eucharistic ministers – priests, religious, consecrated or laity – who have already been trained and assist with the distribution of communion in their home parishes.

According to the archdiocese, the ministers who sign up to volunteer at the Mass must be “trained and functioning ministers of Holy Communion,” and must also be “steady on your feet.”

Though plastic tarp will be laid out in several areas, most of the distribution for communion will take place on bumpy, grassy areas of the park, making it important that the ministers are able to stand their ground.

Even though ministers will have already been trained and approved by their parishes, they will also need to be vetted representatives of the World Meeting of Families.  

The archdiocese said it could not guarantee that ministers would be able to distribute in the section where their families are, but voiced hope that this would not stop people from “generously stepping up to help with this important task,” and promised to do their best to keep parish groups together.

So far the archdiocese has prepared some 4,500 ciboria - the gold dishes used to hold the consecrated hosts in the distribution of communion at Mass.

In addition, the archdiocese said they have already received more than 500,000 hosts for the Mass, thanks to the Redemptoristine Sisters of St Alphonsus Monastery in Dublin, and the Cistercian Sisters from Glencairn, County Waterford.

Pilgrims up front will receive communion from the main sanctuary area, and teams of nine will be assigned to each of the corrals set up in the park, which will hold roughly 1,400 people apiece.

Eight people divided in pairs of two will distribute communion in each corral, with the distribution point marked with a white umbrella. There will also be a separate minister placed in the middle and marked with a red umbrella for mass-goers who require low-gluten hosts.

Quoting the Gospel of Matthew, which recounts how the disciples “took up what was left over of the broken pieces” after Jesus multiplied the loaves of bread and fish, the archdiocese said they plan to donate any extra hosts to hospitals and nursing homes, “so that those who weren’t able to be present and who followed the Mass on television can receive from this tremendous event.”

July 20, 2018 - 4:04am

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, Jul 20, 2018 / 03:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On a hill overlooking the quiet, southern Italian town of San Giovanni Rotondo sits a state-of-the-art private hospital and research center built by one of the 20th century’s most beloved saints, Pio of Pietrelcina.

Known as “Padre Pio,” how did a poor Capuchin priest in ill health establish, on a rocky hilltop in rural Italy, one of today’s most efficient European hospitals – a project which he called his “earthly work”?

The beginning

Padre Pio understood physical suffering beginning from a young age, having been frequently ill. Even after he entered the Capuchins, making solemn vows at the age of 19, people doubted he would be well enough to finish studies for the priesthood or to live the strict rule of the Franciscans.

Despite this, three years later he was ordained a priest; and his experiences with illness led him to be close to the sick and suffering for the rest of his life. He would always say that Christ is present twice in the sick and the poor.

In 1918, the saint also received the visible stigmata – bleeding wounds corresponding to the five wounds Christ received at his crucifixion – while praying before a crucifix in the choir loft of the chapel of the Capuchin monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo.

He had settled permanently in the monastery of the small village, at the time comprised mainly of farms and shepherds, just six months before. From that time, he had the desire to create a hospital founded on the principle of caring for both the body and soul of the sick and suffering.

The first step toward fulfilling this dream began in 1925, with the conversion of an old, small convent into a clinic of just a few beds, reserved for those with extreme necessity.

Years passed, and at the end of 1939, Padre Pio again spoke of his desire to build a hospital, this time with several men who also believed in the project and who formed a group to support it.

The project unofficially began on Jan. 9, 1940, with the first collaborators each making a small donation toward the realization of the hospital. “I also want to give my offering,” the humble Padre Pio said, handing over a 10-cent franc he had received the same morning from a Swiss man.

The friar called the hospital the “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza”, or “Home for the Relief of the Suffering”, because, as he said later, this “work” was “inspired and created to be a spiritual demonstration of God’s love through a call for charity.”

Construction commenced in 1947, though the roughly 20 workers hired at the start did not yet have an architectural plan for the building, and there were only 4 million Italian Lira (about $2,400 today) in the bank.

By this point many people had, from devotion or curiosity, been traveling to see Padre Pio in the poor village, and some thought the Capuchin friar and his group of supporters were crazy to be building a hospital in a village in southern Italy. But Padre Pio said: “The Work is not mine… but Providence’s.”

If he could, he said, he would build the hospital in gold, because whatever is done for the sick is done for Christ, and nothing can be too good for the Lord.

Inauguration

Eventually, it was completed, with the inauguration taking place May 5, 1956. The hospital, only receiving the designation of clinic at the time, had 250 beds. An out-patient clinic with additional departments and services was also a part of the Casa, with a round-the-clock emergency room, and a small chapel where Padre Pio would frequently pray.

At the inauguration ceremony, Padre Pio said, “a seed has been sown on the Earth that [God] will warm with the rays of his love… a place of prayer and science.” A year later, he noted that at the Casa “patients, doctors, priests shall be reserves of love and when it abounds in one, so it shall be passed to all.”

“The Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza has already opened its arms to many thousands of suffering bodies and spirits, offering to all, regardless of status, from the most wealthy to the less well-off, ministering to all, in generous measure,” he said.

From its start, the Casa was also helped by two nearby farms, which produce olive oil and all the dairy products used in the hospital.

Soon after its launch, the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza was given to the Holy See by Padre Pio, being one of just two hospitals under the jurisdiction of the pope.

Years before the hospital was completed, groups of people had begun to provide spiritual support for the project. Promoted by Padre Pio, the prayer groups were in response to a call from Ven. Pius XII for people to gather to pray together, especially in the face of World War II.

“Without prayer, our House for the Relief of Suffering is somewhat like a plant without air and sun,” Padre Pio said, calling the prayer groups the “frontline of this little City of charity.”

The Casa today

These prayer groups continue to flourish today. And the hospital grows, with just under 1,000 beds spread across at least 26 medical and surgical departments, and another 14 departments for diagnosis and other services, all run by nearly 3,000 staff members.

From its humble beginnings as a private clinic, the Casa is now classified as a private national research hospital, specializing in genetic and hereditary diseases, and includes a home for the elderly and housing for families with children receiving cancer treatment.

During the first expansion in 1967, a second, larger chapel was added to the interior of the hospital. In the two chapels a rosary is prayed every day, three or more Masses are celebrated, and staff and patients stop by for moments of personal prayer.

Additional support for hospital staff includes regular spiritual and ethical training courses taught by theologians.

At the hospital’s 10th anniversary in 1966, two years before his death, Padre Pio reflected on the “humble origins” of the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, and how, coming from nothing, “the miracle of faith and charity to which this Work bears witness before the eyes of the world becomes all the more important.”

Entrusting the success of his earthly work to prayer, he said, it is that which “unites all good souls and moves the world, that renews consciences, that sustains the Casa, that comforts the suffering, that cures the sick, that sanctifies their work, that elevates simple medical assistance, that gives moral strength and Christian resignation to human suffering, that becomes a smile and the blessing of God upon weakness and frailty.”

July 20, 2018 - 1:00am

Vatican City, Jul 20, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA).- After publishing a highly controversial essay in July 2017 alleging the existence of an “ecumenism of hate” between Catholics and Evangelicals in the U.S., close papal confidantes Fr. Antonio Spadaro SJ and Marcelo Figueroa in a new article issue a scathing critique of the “prosperity gospel,” which they say is based on a reductionist view of the American Dream.

In the new essay, run July 18 in the Jesuit-run magazine “La Civilta Cattolica,” which is directed by Spadaro, the authors argue that the prosperity gospel, rooted in late 19th century America, is closely tied to the Protestant Evangelical movement in the U.S., and sees power, wealth and success as the result of one's faith, while poverty and misfortune are signs of a lack of faith.

“The risk of this form of religious anthropocentrism, which puts humans and their well-being at the center, is that it transforms God into a power at our service, the Church into a supermarket of faith, and religion into a utilitarian phenomenon that is eminently sensationalist and pragmatic,” they said.

Spadaro and Figueroa, a Protestant who heads the Argentine section of Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, said the prosperity gospel is “a reductive interpretation” of the American Dream.

Though historically this dream saw the United States as a heaven for economic migrants seeking better opportunities than were available in their homeland, Spadaro and Figueroa argue that this vision has turned into a distorted religious belief being put forward by big-name Evangelical televangelists.

The authors cited U.S. President Donald Trump's Jan. 30 State of the Union address, in which the president pointed to popular American motto “in God we trust” and spoke of importance of family and the military, a clear indication that they see Trump as an example of this “neo-Pentecostal” brand of theology.

Spadaro and Figueroa said the two main “pillars” of the prosperity gospel are health and economic success – a mentality they said stems from “a literalist exegesis of some biblical texts that are taken within a reductionist hermeneutic.”

Popular televangelist personalities such as Joel Osteen, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, Robert Tilton and Joyce Meyer, who are often considered to be key prosperity gospel figures in the United States, were dubbed by Spadaro and Figueroa as “evangelicals of the American Dream.”

“Their growth is exponential and directly proportional to the economic, physical and spiritual benefits they promise their followers,” the authors said, adding that “all these blessings are far removed from the life of conversion usually taught by the traditional evangelical movements.”

Spadaro and Figueroa argued that these preachers take scripture out of context, diffusing a message that God is at the service of humanity, and that one can obtain blessings and prosperity, whether physical or economic, simply through religious conviction.

There is a “lack of empathy and solidarity” on issues like migration from adherents to the prosperity gospel approach, they argued.

In this movement, “there can be no compassion for those who are not prosperous, for clearly they have not followed the rules and thus live in failure and are not loved by God,” Spadaro and Figueroa argued.

Biblical teachings such as “you reap what you sow” or that one will receive “a hundredfold” for their good works have been reduced to a “contract” in which the more one gives, the more they expect to get in return, the authors said.

Under this approach, God is made in the image of man, they said, and people believe that they can earn their own success through their actions, making the thought of poverty “unbearable,” because “first, the person thinks their faith is unable to move the providential hands of God; second, their miserable situation is a divine imposition, a relentless punishment to be accepted in submission.”

When it comes to the prosperity gospel and the American Dream, Spadaro and Figueroa said the problem is that the financial success of the United States has been seen as a direct result of America's faith in God.

“It leads to the conclusion that the United States has grown as a nation under the blessing of the providential God of the Evangelical movement,” they said. “Meanwhile, those who dwell south of the Rio Grande are sinking in poverty because the Catholic Church has a different, opposed vision exalting poverty.”

This view not only “exasperates individualism and knocks down the sense of solidarity,” they said, but it also “pushes people to adopt a miracle-centered outlook, because faith alone – not social or political commitment – can procure prosperity.”

And the risk in this is that “the poor who are fascinated by this pseudo-Gospel remain dazzled in a socio-political emptiness that easily allows other forces to shape their world, making them innocuous and defenseless,” Spadaro and Figueroa said, adding that “the prosperity gospel is not a cause of real change, a fundamental aspect of the vision that is innate to the social doctrine of the Church.”

The two closed their essay saying the prosperity gospel is product of two ancient heresies – Pelagianism and Gnosticism – which Pope Francis, who has consistently spoken out against the prosperity gospel mentality, warned of in his recent apostolic exhortation on holiness, Gaudete et Exsultate.

The prosperity gospel, they said, is “a far cry” from the original American Dream, which they described as a “positive and enlightening prophecy” that has inspired many, and which is embodied in civil rights defender Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's legendary “I Have a Dream” speech.

July 19, 2018 - 6:20pm

Phoenix, Ariz., Jul 19, 2018 / 05:20 pm (CNA).- A new Arizona law awards contested custody of frozen embryos to the parent seeking to “develop them to birth.” A Catholic bioethicist told CNA it was a “positive development” in an otherwise unusual ethical situation.

The law, which came into effect July 1, is first of its kind in the United States. It was partly inspired by a custody dispute over frozen embryos. Ruby Torres, a 37 year old woman from Arizona, and her ex-husband John Joseph Terrell created the embryos prior to Torres’ treatment for breast cancer, when she was told she was unlikely to conceive after radiation and chemotherapy. They married shortly thereafter, divorcing three years after she had finished cancer treatments.

Seven embryos were created and remain frozen in storage. Torres told the judge during divorce proceedings that she wanted the embryos,calling them her last chance of having a biological child. Terrell protested, saying he did not want to become a father or be responsible for supporting a child.

Last year, the judge ruled that the embryos should be donated, but not to Torres. She appealed this decision. The law does not apply retroactively to this case or other similar cases.

In other custody disputes, judges have ordered frozen embryos to be either destroyed, remain frozen until an agreement can be made, or donated for use in research purposes. Rarely have they been awarded to a person seeking to actually gestate a child.

Should an embryo be successfully carried tol birth, the Arizona law does not make the unwilling party liable for child support.

Critics of the law say that it “forces” people to become parents against their will. Dr. Ted Furton, director of publications at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said that this argument is the result of a mentality that considers embryos to be property, not human life.

“As soon as you produce embryos, the man and wife are parents,” Furton told CNA in an interview. “Parenthood doesn't happen later, it happens at that moment.”

“So, they're already parents. What they don't realize when they say 'I don't want to be a parent'--it's too late.”

Furton said that he thought the law’s recognition of an embryo as a human life and not as a form of property was a “very positive development” and a “good sign,” and that he is hopeful these kinds of laws would help people “to better understand that these are indeed human lives, and like every human life, deserve protection.”

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