Sunday, August 13, 2017

Oscar Romero: The Unfinished Mass







A few days before he was assassinated, Romero told a reporter, “You can tell the people that if they succeed in killing me, that I forgive and bless those who do it. Hopefully, they will realize they are wasting their time. A bishop will die, but the church of God, which is the people, will never perish.”

Oscar Romero was born in 1917 in Cuidad Barrios, a small town in the mountains of El Salvador.  He left school at the age of twelve and became an apprentice carpenter.  He wished to become a priest but his family wanted him to continue studying carpentry. 

Romero somehow managed to convince his parents that hwe wanted to study for the priesthood.  He was ordained a priest in Rome in 1942 and continued to study there for his doctoral degree in theology. For several years after he worked as a parish priest in El Salvador.  In 1975 he became the bishop of Santiago de Maria and in 1977 he was appointed the Archbishop of San Salvador.
During the 1970’s, El Salvador was wracked by Civil War stemming from a poor economy and a repressive dictatorship.  This war between right-wing government and the leftist antigovernment units led to around 30,000 people being killed.  The US backed the military dictatorship in spite of its human rights violations.  At that time there was a movement of priests who followed Marxist teachings as a solution to El Salvador’s problems and they sided with the poor against the rich landowners and elite of the country.
Romero was considered to be predictable, conservative and not concerned with political views by his fellow bishops and priests, the probable reason he was appointed an Archbishop.  It was expected that he would carry on as others had before him and would not cause any political ‘waves’.
However, Romero let it be known that, although he did not support Liberation Theology, he was on the side of the poor. Shortly after being elected as bishop, a Jesuit priest, Father Rutillo Grande and two of his parishioners were killed.  One was a seven year old child.  When this happened Bishop Romero truly understood what the farmers were facing and promised to be their shepherd.
Romero asked for international intervention but it fell on deaf ears.  With one exception, the Bishops of El Salvador turned their back on him and it is said that they sent a letter to Rome accusing him of using politics to seek popularity.  In 1980, Romero wrote to the President of the United States asking them to stop sending military aid because he said it was being used to repress the people.  They did not stop.
On March 23, 1980 he ended a broadcasted homily with, “Brother, you are from the same people ... No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God.  In the name of God, in the name of the suffering people, I ask you .... in the name of God to stop the repression.”
The day after that speech as Romero was celebrating Mass in a hospital chapel, as he raised the chalice, he was shot by an assassin.  His blood spilled over the altar mixing with the wine from the chalice.
During his funeral Mass on March 30 a bomb exploded and shots rang out. From 30 to 50 people were killed that day.  From this, the people recognized the horror of all the killing and violence in El Salvador finally subsided.
In 2012, the United Nations declared the International Day of the Right to the Truth recognizing the contribution of Archbishop Romero. 
In March 2015, Pope Francis beatified Oscar Romero bringing him one step closer to sainthood. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy Birthday Canada!




                                        Saint Marie Among the Hurons, Midland, Ontario
                                      Photo  By Pjposullivan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0    (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons



This year Canada is celebrating 150 years since Confederation.  Here is a bit of history of the Catholic Church in Canada and some of the people who helped make Canada.
1535   Jacques Cartier arrives in Canada and erects a cross at Saint Servan on the northern coast of the St. Lawrence River
1611 - The first Jesuits arrive in New France (now Quebec)
            Samuel de Champlain founds the first Catholic colony in Quebec City.
1615    Fr. Joseph Le Caron, a Franciscan arrives in New France
1639   St. Marie L’incarnation (a nun of the French Ursuline Order who established the first girls’
school in New France), and Madeline de la Peltrie (a patron of the Ursuline Order) arrive in Quebec
          Jesuits establish St. Marie -Among -the Hurons near Midland, Ontario.
1642  Jeanne Mance, the first lay nurse in New France, establishes Montreal’s first hospital, Hôtel Dieu de Montréal.
1649  Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant are martyred in Saint Ignace near Midland, Ontario.
1659   St. Francois de Laval arrives in Quebec City as its new Bishop.
1659  St. Marguerite de Bourgeoys founds the Congregation of Notre-Dame
1737  St. Margeurite d’Youville founds the Sisters of Charity in Montreal (The Grey Nuns)
1841  Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate arrive in Montreal.
1843  Bl. Marie-Rose Durocher founds the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in Longueil,
QC
1861  Fr. Zépherin Gascon of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) arrives in the Yukon
1864 - Father Lacombe worked among the Cree and Blackfoot aboriginals in Western Canada.
1882  Fr. Lacombe negotiated an agreement with Crowfoot, the Blackfoot leader ,that allowed the railway to pass through Blackfoot land. Crowfoot was given a lifetime pass to travel on the
railway by CPR president as was Lacombe. When the Northwest Rebellion erupted the Prime Minister enlisted Father Lacombe's assistance in assuring the neutrality of the Blackfoot Indians.  Fr. Lacombe translated the New Testament into Cree and wrote a grammar and a dictionary as well as a biography of Chief Crowfoot.
1867 -Canada’s Confederation
1873  Dominican priests arrive in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec
1873 - Convent of Discalced Carmelites is founded in Montreal
1885 - the transcontinental CPR railway was completed
1939  Benedictine Monks establish Westminster Abbey in Mission, BC
1967 - St. Joseph’s Oratory is completed in Montreal.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Available in paperback and e-book.

Go to book/author website or order from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com for paperback.  Amazon in other countries have the e-book available.
After joining a Christian missionary organization, Lorraine is sent to work at a hospital in South Thailand.  Living in a small fishing village near the sea sounds like a peaceful existence but gunshots, a kidnapping and the arrival of Viet Namese refugees are challenges that she and her co-workers deal with.
http://lshelstadauthor.ca

Friday, October 14, 2016

King Bhumiphol - the Much-Loved King of Thailand









 The Queen Mother holding Prince Bhumiphol with older brother, Prince Anand and sister, Princess Galyani.







Early Life
     On December 5, 1927 a baby registered only as Baby Mahidol was born at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  His father was studying medicine at Harvard.  Few people were aware that his father was Prince Mahidol, the son of Chulalongkorn, the King of Thailand.
    In 1928 Prince Mahidol and his wife, the beautiful Sangwan, returned to Thailand with their family of three: Princess Galyani, Prince Ananda and little Prince Bhumiphol (pronounced Bumipon).  Prince Mahidol, now a graduate of Harvard Medical School, worked with leprosy sufferers in North Thailand at a Missionary Hospital for a while and then went on to improve public health and hospitals in Thailand. He taught preventative and social medicine to third-year medical students.   Prince Mahidol suffered from a chronic kidney disease and died at the young age of 37.  His wife took their three children to Switzerland where they attended school.

Ascension to the throne
    When King Chulalongkorn died in 1910, his eldest son, Vajiravudh became King.  Then in 1925 Prince Prajadhibok, next in line, became King.  He abdicated in 1935 due to ill health but first granted a system of constitutional monarchy to the country after ‘The Revolution of 1932’.  Because Prajadhibok had no children, his nephew, Prince  Ananda became the King at the age of 10.  After a short reign of 11 years, spent mostly studying in Switzerland, he was found dead in his room at the Royal Palace in Bangkok, apparently of a gunshot wound.  The circumstances of his death have never been discovered or, at least, have never been revealed to the public except that he probably accidently shot himself while cleaning his gun.  This left Prince Bhumiphol, his nineteen year old brother, directly in line to be King.  His mother asked permission for him to complete his education in Switzerland first and a Regent was appointed in his place.  Bhumiphol had been studying science but switched to law and political science in order to prepare for his new role as King. 
     In 1946 the young King returned to his homeland to take on his royal duties.  Siam’s name was changed to Thailand in 1949.  It remains a constitutional monarchy and the King was loved and revered by the Thai people.   

Marriage and family
    While in Switzerland, Bhumiphol had met the beautiful  Sirikit, the daughter of the Thai ambassador to France.  She was also a descendent of King Chulalongkorn.  They fell in love and were married on April 28, 1950.  Once when asked why he rarely smiled, the King is said to have answered that the Queen was his smile. 
    The King and Queen had four children: Princess Ubol Ratana, Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn (who is next in line to the throne), Princess Sirindhorn and Princess Chulabhon.  Princess Ubol was married to an American whom she met while studying in the US.  They have since divorced.  Their son, Bhumi Jensen died in the tsunami that struck Thailand on December 26, 2004 while on holiday in Phuket.

Reign
     For years King Bhumiphol was the longest living, reigning monarch in the world, surpassing even Queen Elizabeth II of England.  During his reign of 64 years, there were  27 Prime Ministers in Thailand and 15 coups.  Although he was officially a Constitutional Monarch he played a role in politics in Thailand by showing his approval or disapproval of the government in power in his speeches.  His scientific studies helped him in his work to improve agriculture and flood control in his country. 
     The King was also a talented musician; he played the saxophone and the piano and wrote many musical compositions. 
 In recent years, ill health limited his public duties as King but this void has been aptly filled by his children.
King Bhumiphol died on October 13, 2016 at the age of 88.  Thailand has declared a year of mourning.  He will be greatly missed as one of the great and much-loved monarchs of recent times.

 will never disappoint us