October 10, 2018 // National

News Briefs

Guardian angels are life’s traveling companions, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians have guardian angels to encourage and guide them so they won’t become sluggish on their journey in life, Pope Francis said. Without the guidance of angels, men and women who become settled in their ways and put “their life on hold” are in danger of becoming like stagnant water, the pope said Oct. 2 in his homily during morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. “So many people don’t know how to walk or are afraid of taking a risk and they remain still,” the pope said. “But we know the rule is that a person who is stationary ends up stagnating like water. When water is still, the mosquitos come, they lay eggs and ruin everything. The angel helps us, he pushes us to walk.” Commemorating the day’s feast of the Guardian Angels, the pope quoted from the Book of Exodus in which God promises the people of Israel that he is “sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared.” Guardian angels, the pope said, are the help “the Lord promises His people and us who walk along the path of life.”

‘Unthinkable pain, raw emotion’ remain a year after shooting, says bishop

LAS VEGAS (CNS) — This last year “has been a time of unthinkable pain and raw emotion for the Las Vegas community and for families devastated” by the mass shooting of Oct. 1, 2017, Bishop George L. Thomas said at an interfaith prayer service at Guardian Angel Cathedral. “But it has also been a time when Las Vegas has revealed the best the human family has to offer — the resilience of the human spirit in the face of incalculable odds,” said the bishop, who heads the Diocese of Las Vegas. He delivered the remarks during the evening service Sept. 30, where he was joined by a dozen leaders of other faiths. Described by many as an emotional gathering, it came on the eve of the first anniversary of the worst shooting in U.S. history, which left 58 people dead and 527 others injured. From his room on a top floor of a high-rise hotel, the shooter, later identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, rained bullets down on a crowd gathered below for an outdoor country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. As a refrain through his remarks, Bishop Thomas used lyrics from a song written in 1971 by Barry and Robin Gibb: “How can you mend a broken heart?” The words, he said, helped “to capture the struggles and challenges we are facing as a Las Vegas community.”

Asia Bibi’s family: Pakistan Supreme Court to decide her fate this month

CHESTER, England (CNS) — The first Catholic woman to be condemned to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws will discover her fate later this month, her family told Catholic News Service. Asia Bibi, who has been held in solitary confinement since November 2010, when she was sentenced to hang for insulting Muhammad, the founder of Islam, will learn the outcome of her appeal to the Pakistan Supreme Court later in October, her husband, Ashiq Masih, told CNS Oct. 5. If Bibi is released, he said, she and her family will immediately seek sanctuary in one of several countries that have offered them exile, because it was too dangerous for them to remain in Pakistan. Ashiq, a builder from Sheikhupura, Pakistan, was in England with his and Bibi’s youngest daughter, Eisham Ashiq, as guests of Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity helping persecuted Christians. They said when they visited Bibi in Multan Prison Oct. 1 that she was in good health, contrary to speculation that she was developing dementia. During the interview at St. Columba Church, Ashiq said Bibi was praying constantly and that she deeply believed she would win her freedom. “She is psychologically, physically and spiritually strong,” said Ashiq. 

Palestinian Catholic, modeling St. Francis, cares for abused animals

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (CNS) — God gives everyone a mission, Diana George Babish said as she fielded a phone call about a dog who had been shot in Hebron. The mission God gave her is to take care of the abused and abandoned animals in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, she said. “God is pushing me to do this work. I believe it is something sacred,” said Babish, who uses an image of St. Francis surrounded by animals for her online profile. Babish, a Catholic, admitted that it is not an easy mission in a place where, traditionally, society gives little importance to treating animals with compassion and routinely considers government-approved shooting and poisoning of stray animals as the best solution to population control. “It is very difficult for me with the culture here; it is a very closed mentality,” she said. She spoke to Catholic News Service as she was trying to coordinate the injured dog’s transportation to her animal shelter in Beit Sahour, a village adjacent to Bethlehem. “They continue to poison and shoot dogs because they don’t consider their lives to be of value.” 

Retired Wichita bishop dies; known for promoting stewardship way of life

WICHITA, Kan. (CNS) — Retired Bishop Eugene J. Gerber, the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Wichita, died Sept. 29 in Wichita. He was 87. He was bishop of the Diocese of Dodge City, Kansas, from 1976 to 1982, when he was named the ordinary for the Diocese of Wichita. He retired in 2001. A funeral Mass will be celebrated the morning of Oct. 9 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Interment will be at Ascension Cemetery in Wichita. Eugene John Gerber was born at a hospital in Kingman, Kansas, April 30, 1931, to Cornelius and Lena Tiesmeyer Gerber. They lived on a farm at Waterloo about 10 miles east of Kingman. He was the fourth of seven children. Two days after his birth, on May 1, Eugene was taken to St. Louis Church in Waterloo, where Father Bernard Garmann baptized him. He graduated from St. Louis School in Waterloo, a school staffed by Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother. Eugene began high school studies in the fall of 1945 at Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri. As the result of a football injury, he returned home and finished his high school education at Kingman High School, where he graduated in 1949. 

Storm hit basilica, school hard, but parish says it will emerge stronger

WILMINGTON, N.C. (CNS) — Six parish and school buildings take up about two blocks in historic downtown Wilmington. It’s the type of place where roads are brick, window frames are wooden and the school auditorium, known as the “upper room,” was built in 1871. But, since Hurricane Florence made landfall Sept. 14, it’s also the type of place where water was trapped behind wallpaper, roofs sustained structural cracks and property suffered extensive flooding. Repair estimates currently total about $3 million. That monetary assessment is conservative, according to Richard Wilkins, a parishioner who is leading the restoration effort at St. Mary School and its parish church, the Basilica Shrine of St. Mary. The storm spared no building on the church-school campus, although some properties were less damaged than others. The Tileston Building, which houses parish offices, outreach projects and the upper grade classrooms, took much of the damage. It will be off limits for about six to eight months, Wilkins estimated. As of Oct. 2, the school’s 209 students had missed 16 instructional days. St. Mary School closed Sept. 11, a few days ahead of the storm, to give families time to evacuate the area. A number of school families were displaced because of the storm. As the school worked to reopen its doors Oct. 4, development director JoAnn Daley said outreach to those displaced families is already happening, and is expected to pick up as more people return to the area.

A Catholic Relief Services worker walks with a man along a destroyed road Oct. 3, five days after an earthquake and tsunami hit Indonesia’s Sulawesi island. The death toll has surpassed 1,900 people. (CNS photo/Putu Sayoga, Redux for CRS)

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