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Sunday, February 14, 2016

I Was Thirsty and You Gave Me to Drink

by John Zwicker

"I was thirsty and you gave me to drink.” (Matt. 25:35)

John Zwicker @JohnZwicker1 on Twitter is a Catholic
swimming pool designer/contractor residing in the
Archdiocese of Ottawa, Canada with his wife and 7 children.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, a handful of Catholics began working together on Twitter in a Lenten hope of raising funds to build a well for a desperate Catholic Mission in Africa. We use the Twitter Hashtag: #YearofMercyWell. 

It is a formidable task.  Preliminary guesstimates for the cost of well construction, including storage tank and plumbing, is $45,000 in U.S. currency. This grassroots collection of promoters are hoping others will come on board to promote the need. They pray, with this increase in numbers, they will have a successful campaign.

Currently, the water for the Awasi Mission in Kenya comes from seasonal natural sources such as streams, creeks and ditches. Awasi is 
Fr. Joseph Mungai at home in Kenya
one of 17 missions, 11 secondary schools, 25 primary schools, plus chapels and hospitals served by Father Joseph Mungai, a Third Order Franciscan Missionary from the Archdiocese of Kisumu, Kenya. He estimates he serves 50,000 of God's people.

During the dry season, water is not available, except through vendors who sometimes resort to unscrupulous means, such as high prices or more alarmingly, the vendors expect sex for water.

“That's what is happening” says Father Joseph, “Sex for water, it's disgusting.” 

Those campaigning for Father Joseph are very concerned for the well being, safety and lives  of the people of the Awasi Mission.  David Ives, managing the campaign's  gofundme account, Father Joe's Water Well,
Fr. Joseph Mungai is visiting 
the U.S. in February to raise money
for his people's water needs
writes: “Their only clean water nearby comes from unscrupulous vendors who may force them to pay with their bodies or with their lives should they refuse. All they need is a well. We can help them.”

Catholic blogger Peg Pondering Again  writes, “They do not have clean drinking water and help is needed.”  Recently, as a result of drinking tainted water, some, including children, were hospitalized.

If fundraising is successful, a well will be installed for the parish, rectory and convent. Importantly, Father Joseph estimates 10,000 to 20,000 people will have access to this clean water.

It is hoped that funds will be raised and the well installed during this Jubilee  Year of Mercy, which began on Dec. 8, 2015 and will end Nov. 20, 2016. Father will dedicate the well in honour of Canadian Mohawk Saint Kateri Tekakwitha whose homeland is shared by both the U.S. and Canada (where it is
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
Lily of the Mohawks
 presumed most donations will originate). The Lily of the Mohawks took a vow of perpetual virginity after she converted to Catholicism at the age of 19. Noted for her practice of chastity, she is the first Native American to be canonized by the Catholic Church.
A recent newscast detailed the plight of this Awasi Mission and motivated the participants to assist Father Joseph in a Lenten Campaign, commencing Ash WednesdayWater Crisis in Awasi
Preview by Yahoo

All are welcome to assist in promoting the message.

Donations are accepted at:


2.) Sr Larraine

11714 Main Street, Middletown Ky 40357 

Those wishing to assist in the promotion of this cause may contact any of the following:

"I Thirst."
"For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in. Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.  Then shall the just answer him, saying: 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and feed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee?' And the king answering, shall say to them: 'Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.'" (Matthew 25:35-40)   


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Depart From Me, Lord! For I Am A Sinful Man

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Feb. 7, 2016
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Tucson, AZ

Praised be Jesus Christ! 

Fr. John Paul Shea
As we begin this Mass of the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist I would like to introduce myself. My name is Father John Paul Shea. I was ordained two and one-half years ago. I have spent this time at Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson, AZ. 

I am a convert to the Catholic Church. I was raised Mormon and left the Mormon Church at a young age and practiced no faith until our Blessed Mother called me to Her Son’s Church, the Catholic Church, several years later. I am very blessed to be Catholic, I am very blessed to be a priest, and I am happy and blessed to be here at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (also Tucson, Az). 

As we consider today’s readings for this 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time, let us reflect on the greatness of God and our need to humble ourselves before Him. 

All of today’s readings (Isaiah 6:1-8; 1 Cor 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11) spotlight individuals who were called by God to serve Him.

We start with the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah had lived about 700-800 years before the birth of Our Lord Jesus. He lived during the fall of Israel. Judah alone remained, and Isaiah brought the message of God at a time when idolatry seemed to be taking hold of the land.

Isaiah is said to have found his calling as a prophet when he had a vision in the year of King Uzziah’s death. Overwhelmed by the
Angel puts a burning coal on Isaiah's lips
 to enable him to answer God's call
vision of the Lord, Isaiah said,
"Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" 

From the  first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul describes his call for to be an apostle. He was once a persecutor of the Church of God, but now God had now chosen him to preach the Gospel. 

In the Gospel, Our Lord Jesus calls Saint Peter to discipleship. A
s he is fishing, Our Lord tells him  to lower his nets for a great catch. When Peter was astonished by the
amount of fish they caught, Jesus said to Peter: 
“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”

As we reflect on the call of God for Peter, Paul and Isaiah, we notice one similarity in each situation. All three of these individuals responded in humility. Each recognized their unworthiness. Each humbled themselves before God. 

The Prophet Isaiah response to God's call --  
“Woe is me, I am doomed!" -- is similar to both Peter and Paul's response.
Saint Paul -- who before his encounter with Christ describes himself as arrogant -- but
Conversion of St. Paul
on the Road to Damascus
now he calls himself as one born abnormally, the last apostle called and the least. 

And finally after St. Peter's great catch of fish, what does he doe? He falls to his knees and says, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” 

My brothers and sisters, even though we may not have had a sort of radical conversion experience as did Isaiah, Peter or Paul, God wants us to experience His grace in our lives.

If we want to experience God’s grace and  become who He calls us to be, then we need to humble ourselves before Him. If we want to
St Peter: "Depart from me,
Lord, for I am a sinful man"
make progress in our spiritual lives, we must first acknowledge our sinfulness.
It is only when we recognize we are nothing without God that He will act in our lives. And He will! God can and will work many great things in the lives of those who humble themselves before Him.

In fact, along with the examples of the individuals we hear in today’s readings, many people became saints because they humbled themselves before God. Saint Therese of Lisieux, for example, who lived in the late 19th century, never did anything great. She became a saint and a doctor of the Church simply because she acknowledged her littleness and her need for God.
 Humility is the key to discipleship. Humility is the path to holiness. If we want to get anywhere in our spiritual life, than we must first humble ourselves before God!

Many in our time and culture of today do not strive for humility. We instead want to be king. We hear terms today in our society such as “pro-choice” or “marriage equality” or “gay pride.” All of these sorts of worldly terms are rooted in pride because they reflect not the will of God but the will of the self. We want to act and live as if our bodies and our lives are ours instead of treating ourselves and others as a gift given by God.

Many Catholics today do not follow God’s call because they ignore the teachings of the Church on contraception. When Catholics are disobedient to the teachings of the Church, this is 
an act of pride. Pride will get us
A big fat act of pride 
nowhere in our spiritual life or to heaven. Seek 
conversion. Open yourself to God's grace.  

My brothers and sisters, we need humility. God is calling each one of us to discipleship. He is calling each one of us to eternal life. But, if we want to become who God calls us to be, than we must first acknowledge His greatness and our need to humble ourselves before Him. For if we humble ourselves before God, then His Divine Life will live in us and we will bear much fruit. May God bless us and help us! Amen!

Did you enjoy this homily? Perhaps you might also like to read Who is Fr. John Paul Shea? From Mormon to Catholic Priest

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Euthanasia in Canada: "An Opportunity to Bear Witness to Christ." (Pro-LIfe Defender Mary Wagner)

On Feb. 6, 2015 the Supreme Court of  Canada legalized doctor-assisted suicide, but delayed the implementation for one year. Their  gruesome decision bears its wicked fruit next Saturday Feb. 6. People with grievous and irremediable medical conditions (in theory) will be able to ask their doctor to help them die. There's no guarantee that perfectly healthy people suffering from depression will not be able to enjoy the same deadly "succor."  

Canadian Pro-life Defender Mary Wagner sits in the maximum-security prison, Vanier Centre for Women in Milton, Ontario, outside Toronto, Canada. Her crime? Pleading gently with a mother awaiting an abortion to spare the life of her child. Now the gentle Prisoner of Conscience wants us to reflect on the consequences of the new law allowing euthanasia in Canada. 

My Dear Christian Sisters and Brothers,
Mary Wagner's trial is set for March 10, 2016
If she pleads guilty she will be sentenced to six months
in prison. If not, she will get 9 months.
Toronto Catholic Witness correctly identified this as persecution
because violent offenders and child molesters are
receiving sentences under 30 days.
Photo courtesy of Lifesitenews 

I recently had the blessing to speak with a wise Carmelite Mother. While sharing with her my concerns in the wake of the Feb. 6th, 2015 Supreme Court of Canada’s decision, she recalled that Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to exhort the faithful to rejoice in the gift of living in such difficult times, because they give us such an incredible opportunity to bear witness to Christ. 

Fr. Ibrahim spoke of a woman close to them who was bothered because the neighboring homes, which had belonged to the Christians who fled the terror, were being purchased or rented by Muslims: “She felt that something major had changed - the air of the streets, the eyes of the people - and it made her uneasy. I told her, ‘Couldn’t it be that God permitted the people and the environment around us to change so that the fragrance of Christ can reach them, too? Could it be a beautiful mission that the risen Lord is asking of us?’ If that’s the case, there’s no reason for uneasiness, but to think only of what our risen Master is asking of us, of how we can witness the faith to the people who come.'”

Here in Canada, as we face the reality that by decriminalizing physician-abetted suicide, the Supreme Court has set in motion “major change” in our country, Fr. Ibrahim reminds us that nothing is outside of God’s permission. We are not called, therefore, to dwell in complaint and lament. This is a
mission God is entrusting to us, to bring His “fragrance” - his Light and his Love - into this beautiful country that has forgotten the Source of its beauty and greatness.

How are we to understand this mission with which Our Lord has entrusted to us? Fr. Ibrahim, who considers his own
suffering “important and invaluable,” whose greater suffering is the sight of his neighbour’s suffering, offers us the following 
wisdom: “Through a profound posture of listening to
what the Lord says and to the cry of the innocent, we are able to understand how to respond. For those heavy crosses, we really have to learn from Jesus who, during his three-hour crucifixion, still knew how to think of others…”
Who are the “others” who most need our attention? The Supreme Court’s dictate to involve physicians in their patient’s request for suicide would strip vulnerable people of protection in their darkest hour. Those who come to the conclusion that their lives are no longer worth living now have the Court’s agreement, (just as does a mother who concludes that her child in the womb is not worth being given a chance to live). They have been deprived of justice from a judicial system founded on the supremacy of God and Judeo-Christian values. In the wake of this grave injustice, has not our duty to love and protect them become all the more necessary and urgent?

Of this point, doctor-abetted suicide has not become institutionalized, as has the brutal killing of countless of our most helpless and littlest brothers and sisters. Our society, generally, still views suicide as something terribly wrong, an act of despair. This could change completely.

Consider a scenario in which you or I come across someone about to jump off a bridge: Who would not want to do everything they could to help that person- (not to end their life!)- to overcome their despair and receive the love and support they need to find their life worth living?

If this scenario illustrates our clear awareness that every life is worth fighting for, what would make us think differently when a suicidal person asks for “help” from a physician? Does our conviction that life is sacred change due to these circumstances? Does our responsibility for our neighbour diminish under the dictates of an abuse of power? Surely, they do not. The Court's attempt to bully Canadians into accepting suicide under certain conditions in no way justifies suicide, or any form of co-operation with its process. Again, as our government tramples on justice, are we not called, in our dialogue and encounters with others to reaffirm that every human life is sacred, not counting the cost to ourselves but trusting in God and listening to him?

Having read “The Proposal” to the Canadian Medical Association (offered by the Christian Medical and Dental Society and with the support of the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians Societies and Canadian Physicians for Life), I fear that these associations, despite their earnest desire to resist doctor-abetted suicide, have succumbed to defeatism. “The Proposal” expresses a willingness to engage in what I understand to be formal co-operation with a patient’s request for abetted suicide:
Mary writes from prison, the Vanier Centre for Women
“The Proposal” states that “physicians have a duty to provide complete information on all options and advise on how to access a separate, central information, counselling, and referral service.” Further, the assertion is made that one’s autonomy includes the right to take one’s life: (“The Proposal”) “respects the autonomy of the patient to access all legal services while at the same time protecting physicians’ conscience rights.” (Let us recall the normal human response to someone on the verge of jumping off a bridge and compare the difference).

In addition, the language employed feeds into the push to accept doctor-abetted suicide. Language matters. Not only in “The Proposal,” but also in Christian/Catholic media, doctor-abetted suicide has been replaced with such terms as “physician-assisted death,” “assisted death,” and “medical aid in dying.” Such language obscures the truth and will contribute to the acceptance of this evil. As Mother Teresa said, “words that do not bear the Light of Christ only increase the darkness.”

We are Christians. We know that God will not abandon us, even in death. No matter the circumstance, we are called to witness to the risen Lord with our lives. Our Brothers and Sisters are suffering terrible persecution elsewhere in the world, and Fr. Ibrahim says, “We don’t know when it will end… but it doesn’t matter when it ends; the important thing is not knowing how to save ourselves but to witness to Jesus Christ. We also need to think of a political solution - an action plan - but our first duty is to be witnesses of the Christian life, carrying the cross with love, forgiving, and thinking of the salvation of others as well…”

Our Lord gives us the grace to carry out the mission entrusted to us. He does not call us to defeatism, moral compromise nor to the dismal task of saving ourselves. He is calling us to live the truth with love, which includes resisting the push of abetted suicide; such resistance is an affirmation that every human life is sacred. Every person of goodwill can join us in this necessary struggle for justice, for the dignity of the human person.

As Christians, however, we have received more than the hope of justice. We have the treasure of a Love unsatisfied with the fulfillment of duty alone. Christ, who laid down his life for us, calls each of us to share in his limitless gratuity: “Love
Angel of Death passes over the reverant Jewish home on Passover
where the blood of the sacrificed lamb marks the doorframe
one another as I love you.” (Jn. 15:12)

Our suffering brothers and sisters in Syria, led by their shepherd, Fr. Ibrahim, are an incredible witness to a waiting world that love is stronger than death. Here in Canada, as we fight the darkness of death under other forms, let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us entrust ourselves, wholly and humbly, to the Light of Life, who alone can scatter the darkness. Let us pray for each other.

God bless…

Mary Wagner      January 23, 2016

Mary Wagner in better days in Poland with her signature white roses.

Would you like to read more about Mary Wagner's mission to live the Gospel of Life as taught by Pope Saint John Paul II?