Sunday, December 10, 2017

Deacons For Archdiocese

Congratulations to the men who were ordained deacons for the Archdiocese of Agana. You can find the story here. They are: 
Greg Calvo from Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Yigo; Huan Hosei and Rene Dela Cruz from the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Toto; John Fernandez from Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Santa Rita; George Quitugua from Santa Teresita parish in Mangilao; Joe Gumataotao and Romeo Hernandez from Santa Barbara parish in Dededo; and Rudy Que from Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica parish in Hagåtña.
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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Truth And Justice

Truth and Justice are inseparable.  You cannot have justice if there is no truth for the purpose of our justice system is to determine the truth. With the discovery of DNA testing, many men convicted of rape or sexual crimes were exonerated.  Take the case of Thomas Haynesworth.  According to news report:

Back in 1984, when Thomas Haynesworth was 18, he set out to buy some groceries for his mother. A woman, who had been attacked days before, sought a police officer and told him Haynesworth was the one who did it.
Eventually five women identified him as the attacker and Haynesworth spent the next 27 years in prison. 
The Root reports on what happened next:
In 2005, in the wake of the exonerations of five other wrongly convicted men, then-Virginia governor Mark R. Warner (D) ordered a sweeping review of thousands of criminal cases from 1973 through 1988. Haynesworth's was among them. Using technology that wasn't available in the 1980s, authorities tested DNA collected from a January 1984 rape for which Haynesworth was convicted. The results cleared him and implicated a convicted rapist named Leon Davis.

It started out with one woman.  Then five other women later identified him as their rapist.  All of them had the wrong person. Although the evidence was there, DNA testing did not exist at that time.  So, how did these women identify the wrong person?  Because they did not get a very close look at their rapist.  It is natural for different people to see the same thing; yet, describe it differently.  Some will say he wore a black shirt.  Others will say it was navy blue.  Police officers often advice the public to focus on a distinguishing mark on the perpetrators such as a tatoo, birthmark, mole, or scar that could easily identify the person.  The fact that Haynesworth was Black may also play a part in his conviction. Here is another story of a man convicted and sentence to jail for a quarter of a century for a rape crime.  DNA testing set him free 25 years later.  According to news report (the bold is mine): 

"We were 100 percent certain that we did in fact have the right person," said Bernard Carter, Lake County prosecutor.

"Until recently, there was no technology that could really do what I call dissect DNA mixture," said Fran Watson, attorney.

"Once they explained to us what DNA was, we told them to bring the test on because we know where we were," Pinkins said.

That technology cleared Pinkins as a criminal.


"When you look at the evidence that stands now, it would be an injustice for us to even attempt to try Mr. Pinkins. We would not convict him," Carter said.

Pinkins waited almost a quarter century to hear that.

"This is a new beginning," he said.

The Lake County prosecutor says even now the victim is still convinced Pinkins is the man who raped her. Carter says he is committed to finding the five men responsible for that 1989 crime, and he says Lake County will be using that DNA technology in many cases going forward.


Before the existence of DNA testing, some men were wrongly convicted of rape or sexual assault and sentenced to life in prison largely on the strength of the victim's testimony.  Technology had made it possible to determine truth.  And the justice system is going forward with this technology.  With DNA testing, justice and truth prevails.  

Today, the law lifting the Statutes of limitations would only bring the justice system back to the days when there was no DNA testing, and one needed only to rely on the words of the alleged victims.  As we can see from the past, substantial evidence is needed to determine the truth.  These men who were falsely accused and sentenced to jail is proof that innocent people can be sent to jail.  However, these men were set free when DNA testing became available because there was at least some substantial evidence in which DNA can be tested, and the truth was established.  Justice and truth prevailed.   

However, in the case with the allegations in Guam's sex abuse, forty years is a long time.  After forty years, the witnesses are dead.  In some cases, the accused is also dead and unable to defend himself.  There are also no substantial evidence in which DNA can be tested.  In fact, there are absolutely no substantial evidence because even one alleged victim claimed to have burned the nude photos that Father Antonio Cruz took.  According to news report:
Tomas De Plata said Cruz kept a box of nude pictures of numerous altar boys, including of himself. 
“There were also nude pictures of Cruz, Brouillard and other priests, committing sexual acts on minor boys. Not knowing any better, Tomas burned the box of pictures out of fear that someone would see them and never returned to the Chalan Pago Parish for as long as Cruz remained the priest,” the lawsuit says.
They say that during those times, parents would not believe their kids if their kids told them they were abused by a priest.  Some say the parents would punish them if they opened their mouths.  Yet, someone did say something about Father Brouilliard, and that boy was not punished at all. His parents believed him and reported the priest to the police. In fact, Father Brouilliard was arrested.  So, what was different about this young altar boy and his parents who came forward?  Why did he and his parents not follow the so-called Guam "culture" that so many alleged victims professed to exist at that time? Father Brouilliard was arrested, but Archbishop Flores moved him to the U.S.  According to news report:
 And, a self-described, 30 year veteran of the Guam police force, who called into my radio show, stated that he had arrested a Catholic priest who molested a young alter boy on Guam. He stated that after his arrest, the priest admitted to molesting multiple victims on Guam.
According to the retired police officer, this entire incident was covered up by former Archbishop Flores. The alleged offending priest was, according to the retired officer, promptly shipped off-island shortly after his arrest, and never faced justice on Guam.  
Truth and justice should be inseparable.  However, there would be no justice if Public Law 33-187 continues to exist.  Therefore, Public Law 33-187, which lifted the Statutes of Limitations should be declared unconstitutional and inorganic.  It deprives the accused of due process.  Justice delayed is Justice denied.  

Friday, December 8, 2017

Our Blessed Mother

Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  We attended the procession at the Agana Cathedral.  Some of the NCW members were there.  Our Blessed Mother is important to all Catholics.  This feast day is also important to the Neocatechumenal Way because it was on December 8th when our Blessed Mother Mary appeared to Kiko Arguello and told him to build small communities.  The Blessed Virgin Mary inspired the Neocatechumenal Way.  Thus began the founding of the Neocatechumenal Way communities.  According to Pope Francis: 
And today I confirm your call, I support your mission and I bless your charism.......... I also make these words my own and I encourage you to go forward, entrusting yourselves to the Holy Virgin Mary, who inspired the Neocatechumenal Way. May she intercede for you before her Divine Son.
The first seminary which ran under the auspices of the Way was established in Rome in 1987.  It coincided with the encyclical of St. Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater promulgated on March 25, 1987 to celebrate the bimillennial anniversary of the birth of our Blessed Mother.  The seminary was named after our Blessed Mother as well.  Redemptoris Mater means "Mother of our Redeemer."  

The icon below was  painted by Kiko Arguello after he received the inspiration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and this icon is always used in our celebrations.  The inscription on the icon was written in Spanish:  "HAY QUE HACER COMUNIDADES CRISTIANAS COMO LA SAGRADA FAMILIA DE NAZARET, QUE VIVAN EN HUMILDAD SENCILLEZ Y ALABANZA; EL OTRO ES CRISTO."  This is translated in English as “We have to make Christian Communities like the Holy Family of Nazareth, that live in humility, simplicity and praise; (and where) the other (person) is Christ.”


Image result for Art of Kiko Arguello
                                                                   

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Advent Announcement 2017

Related imageThe NCW had its Advent Announcement last night.  The Announcement always starts with the International Team who transmit it to the Team Catechists who then transmit it to the communities.  

The Announcement started with a couple of good news. Four RMS seminarians had passed their exams with flying colors. The 50th Anniversary of the NCW in Rome will also be celebrated next year on May 5th, and all are invited to attend. We were also reminded of the fruits that the RMS in Guam has brought.  As Jokers Wild stated: 
Many years of our own Seminary. Many priests ordained. Many young men discerning the call to the priesthood. Many young men abroad,a local priest ordained for Miami, a local boy being formed in Rome, another local boy being formed in Portugal. Many families in mission in other countries where the church is not present fully, offering their lives as a sign of Gods love. Many women have given up their lives to pray unceasingly for all of us. These are just a few of the concrete signs that we can always rejoice in.
Yes, we have young Chamorro men being formed for the priesthood. One is ordained in Miami,  and two others being formed in Rome and Portugal.  We also have local itinerants and local mission families.  These are some of the fruits of the NCW and RMS.  Imagine!  Our own people going out being missionaries.  We were also told that even communities are being called into mission. These communities in mission will be placed in a parish, helping the parish priest.  Some of the members helped the parish priest by being altar servers, lectors, Eucharistic ministers while others helped with the CCD students.  The cantors became the parish choir.  These are things many of us are already doing in our own parishes.  So, God is preparing us for the future call when we will be sent out in mission as a community.  

We were shown a short video clip of Kiko Arguello's travels to India and China.  A cardinal in India invited Kiko to his country because he was very impressed with the NCW when he attended the retreat in Galilee.  A calling was made in India, and 60 youths and men stood up for the priesthood.  62 youths and women also stood up to join the convent.  

The brothers in the Way were also instructed to begin Christmas on December 17th.  However, my family and I were already in the Christmas mood and had already set up our beautiful nativity. 

The announcement ended with the three P's: Patience, Prayer, and Perseverance.  Our catechists told us to be patient, to lead a prayerful life, and to persevere during the trials in our lives and the persecutions in the NCW.  Rejoice.  Yes, we have much to rejoice in!  Have a Blessed Advent!!!
  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Secret Meetings?

This four year controversy started with the removal of Father Paul and Monsignor James.  Everyone can agree to that.  Archbishop Apuron has always declared his innocence.  In a public release statement, he claimed that he was innocent and did not sexually molest or abuse anyone.  Rather, he claimed that there was a conspiracy to remove him.  

Recently, the jungle claimed to have a secret meeting after the removal of Father Paul.  According to Tim Rohr:
Fast forward to 2013. I was invited to a secret meeting. 

I was told no one was to know who was at the meeting. I was told that there never was a meeting. It was July, 2013. I was shown a letter from Apuron to Fr. Gofigan. 
Below is a screen shot of the statement above made by Tim Rohr in his blog. 





This secret meeting, which took place after the removal of Father Paul, already implies that there was a conspiracy.  After all, why was the meeting a "secret"?  And why was Rohr told not to say who was at the meeting?  How many secret meetings were there?  And who was involved in these secret meetings?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Family Represents The Holy Trinity

We went to watch the animated movie The Star.  It's nice to see that there are some things in this world pointing to Jesus Christ rather than Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.  Do not get me wrong.  I watched those movies when I was growing up.  But Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season.  And it is great seeing that the birth of Christ was in the new animated movie even if it is from the perspective of the animals.  

At any rate, Christmas is around the corner.  The tree is up, but most important is that the Nativity is also up.  Our catechists encouraged the brothers to set up a nativity and to start praying the novena as in the good old days.  Do you remember those good old days?  Families would come together to pray the novena in front of the Nativity.  After the prayers and songs, a child would bring the statue of the baby Jesus to everyone.  Everyone would "amen" the Baby Jesus.  Afterwards, we would come together and enjoy a meal.  There are some things in our tradition that should remain the same, and praying the novena with family and friends is one of them.  A special reminder to start setting up your belen if you have not already done so.  The Family represents the Holy Trinity. 

Image result for The Nativity

  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

SNAP Apologizes To Father Jiang

Image result for Father JiangFor the first time in history, SNAP, has apologized to falsely accused priest Father Jiang. SNAP's apology reads as follows: 
The SNAP defendants never want to see anyone falsely accused of a crime. Admittedly, false reports of clergy sexual abuse do occur. The SNAP defendants have no personal knowledge as to the complaints against Fr. Joseph Jiang and acknowledge that all matters and claims against Fr. Jiang have either been dismissed or adjudicated in favor of Fr. Jiang. SNAP acknowledges that false claims of clergy sexual abuse injure those clerics falsely accused and the Roman Catholic Church. SNAP apologizes for any false or inaccurate statements related to the complaints against Fr. Joseph Jiang that it or its representatives made which in any way disparaged Fr. Joseph Jiang, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, Monsignor Joseph D. Pins and the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
You can find the apology in the news report here.  Criminal charges filed against Father Xiu Hui "Joseph" Jiang were dismissed in 2015.  Father Jiang also passed a polygraph test, during which he denied that he had ever abused a minor.  When Father Jiang was accused of sexual abuse, SNAP labeled him guilty without due process of a trial.  After he was found not guilty, Father Jiang fought back and sued for defamation to restore his reputation.  Father Jiang won the defamation lawsuit and SNAP was ordered to reimburse Father Jiang's legal fees, which totaled $25,100.  Another judge also ordered the false accusers to pay the legal expenses of both Father Jiang and the Archdiocese of St. Louis, totaling $48,516.84. 

Indeed, a big kudos to Father Jiang for fighting the good fight for truth and justice.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

NCW in Australia

While the NCW in Australia celebrates its 40th year anniversary, the NCW in Rome will be celebrating their 50th year anniversary next year.  We are all looking forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary in Rome next year.  The article below dated July 4, 2017 can be found here.  


The Archbishop of Brisbane, Archbishop Mark Coleridge celebrated Mass with the Neocatechumenal Way on 10 June (right), as part of their 40 year anniversary elebrations in Melbourne.
It was almost a convoy that travelled from Sydney to Melbourne on 9 June to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Neocatechumenal Way in Australia. For the occasion, Archbishop Denis Hart welcomed Neocatechumenal communities and representatives from around the country in St Patrick’s Cathedral.
The Neocatechumenal Way is one of the numerous new ways or movements in the Church, which focuses on giving Catholics an adult – as opposed to a merely nominal – faith.
It forms communities in parishes focused on Scripture, prayer and praise of God and which engage in a long-term program of catechesis in the Christian faith.
“I thank you … for allowing the Word of God to touch and burn in your hearts, so that the privilege of bringing God’s living word to people shines from you beautifully and humbly, and brings life to the world,” Archbishop Hart told the 600 or so people in attendance. It was a moment of joy and gratitude to God: his Word proclaimed and made flesh by a small team of catechists has borne fruit in the 80 Neocatechumenal communities around Australia.
It is only 50 years since God entrusted to Spanish layman Kiko Arguello and his collaborator, Carmen Hernandez, a charism which has grown like a tree to reach all peoples. It has brought to a world where faith was disappearing the chance to discover again the wealth and riches of our baptism.
What began among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Madrid has proved to be a life-saver for people from every background.
“What I know of the Way is the wonderful relationships, the wonderful love, the challenges of family and fraternity,” Archbishop Hart said.
“It is an opportunity to find rich meaning in our daily lives, to rediscover the Sacraments and conversion, and to rediscover and live the meaning of our baptism.”
This process or, as it is sometimes called by members of Neocatechumenal communities, an itinerary, has reached some 40 Australian parishes over the last four decades.
In recent years we have seen the crisis of vocations, the breaking down of the family structure, and the underlying lack of faith formation necessary for the Church to bear fruit.
The 40 years of the Neocatechumenal Way in Australia represent a significant proportion of the Church’s history in Australia, focusing as it does on bringing the power of the Risen Christ to ordinary people in parishes.
But the proclamation of the kerygma – the Good News – can bring people out of impossible situations, such as the traps of vice and slavery to sin and restore them to their baptismal life.
Experience shows that this bold proclamation brings a radical response in both young and old.
“The thing that I have always thought powerful and remarkable about the Neocatechumenal Way is the ability of God’s word to inflame our hearts so that we proclaim it always and everywhere,” Archbishop Hart said.
Like the early Church we give free what we have received gratis. Today this is still our strength. The Redemptoris Mater Seminaries in Perth and Sydney, a fruit of the Way, live entirely on Providence, on God who provides.
The teams of catechists who evangelise in the parishes are not paid. We live in the same precariousness as Christ, who assured our salvation by his Blood freely shed for us – which makes any thought of remuneration for the Gospel totally out of place.
“The work is not complete,” Archbishop Hart concluded, “because [the Lord] invites you and me to further conversion and to present the riches of the Gospel to the people of our time.”
We look forward to the next 40 years of adventure which the Lord has prepared for us.
Fr Anthony Trafford is one of the national ‘Responsibles’ for the Neocatechumenal Way in Australia

Friday, November 24, 2017

Christ Is King Even In Darkness

The following article was written by Father Gordon, which can be found here.  I was very impressed with the photo of the Pope who held reconciliation outside in the public square.  
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A Harvest Moon Before Christ the King

It was never intended this way, but the Solemnity of Christ the King occurs on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in the United States. And it’s the Sunday before Advent begins so there are many other distractions. In a world in constant crisis, we cling to the celebration of family and tradition that Thanksgiving has become.
Some time ago, I wrote an account of what really happened in the Plymouth Colony of 1620. It became one of the most widely read posts on These Stone Walls and ended up being cited in the footnotes of a couple of history books. “The True Story of Thanksgiving: Squanto, the Pilgrims and the Pope,” tells the story of Squanto whose odyssey left him alienated and homeless. But without him, our Thanksgiving could not have taken place.
Reading that story might be good spiritual preparation, not only for Thanksgiving but for the Solemnity of Christ the King. It embodies what the Gospel proclamation calls for at Mass on that day. It’s a familiar passage, but like much of the Gospel, it has some deeper meaning to uncover. The Gospel for Christ the King, from Matthew 25:31-46, is called “The Judgment of the Nations.”
Why this is such a beloved passage seems a mystery to me. For some, it should also be one of the most conscience-shaking. It lists in the most direct terms the requirements of discipleship and what failure to observe them will mean. The words of the Messiah in the passage end with a dismal foreboding:
“And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)
THE BLESSING OR THE CURSE

All four Gospels focus more attention on the final days of Jesus than on his earthly ministry. The Gospel for Christ the King enters those final days by delivering the key to heaven that the mission of Christ imparts to us. The passage for Christ the King is followed immediately in Matthew by the conspiracy to kill Jesus, then the Passion Narrative commences with the betrayal by Judas, the arrest, the denial of Peter, the Way of the Cross, the Resurrection.
You may have read recently about the 500 year anniversary of Martin Luther’s “99 Theses” affixed to the Wittenberg Cathedral sparking the Protestant Reformation in 1517. One of the theological sticking points it launched was a debate over whether we are saved by faith alone or by faith that is manifested in action.
There can be no debate when you consider what Jesus imparted to us in the Gospel for Christ the King. The passage opens with a declaration of the establishment of His Kingship and our fate:
“When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats.” (Matthew 25: 31-32)
This Gospel passage forms the basis for the Corporal Works of Mercy, our encounter with the world’s poor and alienated. In his book ‘You Did It to Me’ (Marian Press, 2014) Father Michael Gaitley opens with the mandate this Gospel presents:
“You did it to me… You did not do it to me.” One day, one great and terrible day, one of these two sentences will be for each of us heaven or hell. They will ring in our ears for eternity either as a blessing or a curse. They will lead us either to praise, glory, and honor or to horror, regret, and everlasting despair.” (‘You Did It to Me,’ p. 15)
Father Gaitley’s book is about getting the blessing and avoiding the curse. The course of action it prescribes is not so very difficult, and if you are reading this post you are already accomplishing one of the requirements for the blessing. I am, after all, in prison, and you are here at this moment with me. In fact, we are a part of this book. A photo of our friend, Pornchai Moontri, appears halfway through it.
It’s fascinating that this passage about mercy in action is the Gospel for the Solemnity of Christ the King. The judgment of the nations – the judgment of all peoples – is not in the category of a parable, but rather an apocalyptic revelation. It presents our moral responsibility and the fact that God takes note of it. The big test of this life is not justification by faith alone, but our capacity for mercy and the humility to fulfill it.
“Humility” might seem a strange word in this context, but it fits, and I’ll explain why in a moment. I encountered its challenge even while writing this post. But first, some of the deeper background in this Gospel passage.
What is the “It” referred to in ‘You Did It to Me’? The Gospel breaks it down to simple statements about the requirements of discipleship and salvation:
“I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick and you comforted me. I was in prison, and you came to me.” (Matthew 25:35-36)
This Gospel passage illuminates justification, the King’s discernment of the righteous from the unrighteous. “When did we see you in prison, Lord?” His answer identifies service to those in need with the love of Christ.: “Whenever you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.”
The meaning of “the least of these” has long been debated since the Protestant Reformation. Our mandate for mercy has at times been wrongly seen as referring only to members of the Christian community. In that interpretation, the mandate to service excludes everyone else. The “least of these” is also sometimes translated as “brethren,” lending itself to an exclusionary meaning.
However, the original Greek of the Gospel for this phrase is “adelphos” which has a broader sense that includes any person in need. This is reflected in Saint Paul’s theology as well:
“In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no male
or female, for all of you are one in Christ.” (Galatians 3:28)
The sin of exclusion is also expressed in another post of mine, “On the Road to Jericho: A Parable for the Year of Mercy.” It’s the familiar parable of “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10: 25-37) with a surprising outcome. The one who attains justification in the parable is not the religious “insider” concerned only for the rituals of faith, but the “outsider” who tends to the needs of a wounded man.
The tenets, “I was sick and you comforted me,” and “I was in prison and you came to me” are also weak translations. The original Greek translated as “comforted,” and sometimes “visited,” or “came to,” is “episkeptomai.” Its fuller meaning is to “look after” or “tend to.”
This is what justifies the Samaritan in the Parable of Saint Luke’s Gospel cited above. He does not just comfort the wounded man on the Road to Jericho, but tends to his needs and looks after him.
The last tenet on the list of requirements – “When I was in prison, you came to me” – should be easy for someone like me. I am already in prison. Coming to others in prison should not be such a challenge, but, to be honest, the need for humility has been a stumbling block.
THE PRODIGAL SON AND THE PRODIGAL PRIEST

One of the more difficult tenets of the Gospel is perhaps a greater challenge in prison than it is anywhere else: “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.” Strangers come to prison every day. There is probably no one more in need of welcome and inclusion than someone arriving here for the first time in his life. But what actually happens is often the opposite.
When a new prisoner shows up where I live, he is a stranger and an alien in the strangest of lands. Other prisoners typically distrust and shun “new guys,” and the unspoken peer pressure to avoid them is like another prison wall. Getting over it takes autonomy, courage, and humility. Why humility? The story of my friend, Jeff, will make it clearer.
You might remember a post I wrote as 2017 began: “Hebrews 13:3: Writing Just this Side of the Gates of Hell.” It turned out to be one of our most popular posts because it was carried at, of all places, SpiritDaily.com where readers came to it by the thousands.
But it is also gruesome reading. It presents a vivid snapshot of what day to day life in prison can be like. It describes the drug traffic, the violence, the cruel exploitation, the distrust and the overcrowded chaos into which we had been thrown for a year.
One young man who also lived in that awful place was Jeff, a 21 year-old in his first year in prison. I did not know Jeff very well then, and to be honest with you, I accepted without question the judgments of others and avoided him.
Jeff was drawn deeply into the prison drug culture, and all that it entails. Then he became associated with an exploitive sociopath whom, from all appearances, Jeff chose to follow.
The drug culture, combined with that man’s history of exploiting vulnerable people, drew Jeff into the darker realities of prison. While using drugs, Jeff was amassing debts that he could not pay. So he ended up paying in ways that only further demeaned himself. Then Jeff descended to the lowest depths of the bizarre social strata of prison. He had to be placed in protective custody.
Now, it’s easy to say that 21-year-old Jeff is an adult who should be held responsible for his choices, and that would be the truth. But truth stripped of all context often ends up not being the truth at all. The story of Jeff seen in context left me concerned, not only for him but for my attitude toward him.
When Jeff emerged from protective custody, he was sent to the place in which I now live. However, the reputation he amassed also followed him here. Many prisoners shunned him, and some of those who didn’t were men who would continue the same pattern of manipulation and exploitation that had already been Jeff’s ruin. He was on a path from which he could not escape on his own.
One night in October 2017, Jeff was standing alone in the dark on the top floor walkway near the place where I live. I had stepped outside to descend down to the lower area to walk. As I passed, Jeff said, “Can I talk to you?” I stopped. “I heard you’re a priest,” said Jeff. “I was Catholic for a while.”
Jeff was nervous, fearing rejection, and my spontaneous instinct was to close my mind and not let him in. My heart, however, just can’t be that jaded. I gave Jeff a chance, and that’s when I learned that humility is needed for the Corporal Works of Mercy. After my first conversation with Jeff, some of my friends protested. “Why would you even talk to that loser?”
The easiest path would have been to abandon Jeff to their harsh and unmoving judgments. But on the next night, Jeff was there again, and we spoke for several hours. A story emerged that became the missing context for a man I judged wrongly. I challenged him to trust me, and he did. All of what had been his undoing was laid bare before me, and left me feeling ashamed for my failure to be who I am for this broken and alienated man.
Jeff grew up with an alcoholic father and drug-addicted mother. They were never married, and Jeff was shuffled between the two for much of his childhood. As a teen, he moved in with his grandfather who was a devout Catholic. For a short time, Jeff was drawn into the life of the Church, but his loneliness and emotional isolation went largely unaddressed.
At age 17, Jeff had a brief relationship which resulted in his fathering a child. In response, his grandfather withdrew his support of Jeff and their relationship evaporated. Jeff was the Gospel’s prodigal son. On his own at 17, he left school and tried to work to support his own son. But having never had a father, Jeff was without a compass for how to be one.
He became alienated from his child’s mother and lost contact with his son who is now five years old. Jeff descended down a long descent that would lead to prison. He medicated his sorrow in drugs, first Percocet, then methamphetamine, then heroin.
Addicted, Jeff submerged fully into the drug culture of the streets. He could have easily ended up on the prison “Wall of Death” that I described recently in “Cry Freedom! A Prisoner Unlocks Doors from the Inside.”
Jeff could not support his growing addiction any more than he could support his son. He was recruited to sell drugs on one occasion at age 19 but was caught, charged, and sentenced to prison. Jeff saw this as his wake-up call. He entered rehab and emerged clean and sober to begin to pay his debt to society.
Like many of the isolated young men who land in prison, Jeff was vulnerable to the nefarious agendas that are rampant here. This is what happens when the right people treat strangers and aliens as strangers and aliens. They fall prey to the wrong people. With no one to protect him, Jeff was targeted by a sociopath who rekindled his addiction, drew him into debt, and exploited him.
This was the state Jeff was in when I first met him – when I accepted without question the judgments of others that Jeff did all this to himself. I could have tried to get him away from the man who enslaved him, but my failure was based on one factor: “What will others think of me if I stand with a leper?”
It was not easy getting the context for this story out of Jeff. He learned the hard way not to trust anyone in prison, and he took a risk to trust me. The night we first spoke, after seeing more clearly the weight of Jeff’s loneliness and despair, I knew that I must also try to liberate him from his life as a social pariah that broke his heart and silenced his spirit.
One October night as we spoke – when Jeff’s slow release from the inner prison of sin was exhausted – he suddenly pointed to the horizon. “What’s that?” he asked. From the top floor walkway where we stood, there appeared a strange glow beyond the distant hills. The glow became an arc of bright light, and then I realized what it was.
We watched, mesmerized, as a full harvest moon rose before our eyes to pierce the darkness. Magnified by the heat released from the Earth, it seemed huge and magical as we stared in long silence. It was, for Jeff, the illumination of his dark night of the soul, but it illuminated something for me as well. After a time I put my hand on Jeff’s shoulder and said, “We’ll talk more tomorrow.” The smile that returned was that of Christ.
My friends talk to Jeff now. They do it because I do it. And because we gave him the gift of inclusion, the serpents that whispered to him have moved on. Jeff just tested “clean” for his fifth consecutive weekly drug test. His prison debts – which were mostly just a manipulative con game – have vanished. Under that harvest moon, Jeff took the first step into the light on a road to freedom.
But this is not Jeff’s confession. It is mine. I’m sorry I was late. “Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do to me.”

Note from Father Gordon MacRae: Please share this post. If you like it then please read & share these others in a spirit of Thanksgiving: 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Announcement

Dear Junglefolks, 

The reason your comments are not published is because you are bashing the Way and Kiko Arguello.  If you wish to bash the NCW, please go to your blog, JungleWatch, and make your comments there.  This blog was not created for you to bash the NCW and degrade the RMS seminarians.  Thank you for your understanding.

Diana

Reader: The Elephant in the Room

The following article can be found here.



Hans Christian Anderson wrote a tale about an emperor who was deceived by two weavers claiming they could weave clothes of magical quality. They become invisible to anyone stupid. When the fake robes were ready, the townspeople and ministers were afraid to say that the emperor was naked, including the emperor himself, for fear of being called stupid. One child exclaimed, “The emperor is naked!”, breaking the spell.

This is apropos to our situation in Guam today where we are dealing with perceptions instead of facts. A bishop has been accused and deemed guilty without a trial. Anything associated to him (Neocatechumenal Way, seminary, Kamalen Karitat, Theological Institute) is guilty by default. Whoever questions this narrative is stupid.

What is the truth?

The Neocatechumenal Way is an itinerary of faith supported by five popes, who said, “it’s a gift of the Holy Spirit” — healing marriages, transmitting faith to youth and raising vocations.

The Redemptoris Mater Seminary has ordained 17 priests: four are pastors and three are vicars in three parishes, including one serving in Saipan for Bishop Ryan. All are valued greatly and deemed assets. Guam imports priests from the Philippines because priestly vocations are scarce. Priests formed under RMS possess a missionary spirit but fall under the jurisdiction of the archbishop, who alone decides where they serve. In 2009 on the 10th anniversary of the RMS, the Legislature passed resolution 259-30, expressing gratitude “for their continuous contribution towards the improvement and betterment of the quality of life for our Island community and its people.”

The Theological Institute solved the problem of a requisite educational institution of higher learning for the formation of priests in the Pacific, an area severely lacking priests. Thirty-one bishops supported the erection of the Institute in Guam, achieving affiliation with the Lateran University, the Pope’s university. Seminarians graduating from the Institute receive a bachelor’s degree from the Lateran University. Prior to the establishment of the Theological Institute, only Fiji and San Francisco were options.

After the dismissal of the Sulpicians (who followed a very liberal education), Saint Patrick seminary was in disarray. Attempting to rebuild the faculty with a traditionalist agenda (utilizing Latin and cassocks), most dioceses withdrew their seminarians. Of 110 seminarians, only 35 remain, of which 16 are for San Francisco despite a minimum survival number of 70. Over the next two years, there will be no ordinations and perhaps in 2020 an ordination will occur, assuming it survives.

From a financial perspective, the cost to form a seminarian/year in San Francisco is $44,000-$10,000 a year at RMS. The archdiocese contributes only 5 percent to this amount for RMS, or $500 a year. Therefore a 10-year formation for one RMS formed priest costs the archdiocese only $5,000 and for $44,000 a year could basically finance for almost nine priests! The complete formation of one seminarian in San Francisco will cost the archdiocese $440,000.

Perhaps this should be considered before selling archdiocesan assets. If the issue is to sell off the Yona property to pay for the sexual abuses, the RMS formators informed the archbishop that they could move elsewhere. Archbishop Byrnes declined however, and proceeded to close the RMS seminary. A year ago, there were 44 men in formation but Byrnes sent most of them away. Last week he informed the remaining 10 to “look for another diocese” by Christmas, which includes four local Chamorros formed in Guam, ready to be ordained.

Why destroy institutions that were praised to be beneficial to the community? In 1944, Guam experienced a deluge of bombs to be liberated from their Japanese captors. Today, another horrific spiritual bombardment is supposed to liberate us from a seminary and a theological institute? Will Guam prosper now that they have been decimated?

This academic discussion will now forever lie in the ruins of history’s heap. Ultimately those responsible for this massacre will answer to a higher judge. Nonetheless, we have to ask our shepherd why this terrible hatred toward everything associated with Apuron?

How can such a biased, one-sided policy promote reconciliation? Why so many poor decisions against diocesan interests despite instructions from Cardinal Filoni? Who sold you this magic garment?

Ricardo B. Eusebio, M.D., FACS, is a resident of Sinajana.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A Mob Mentality

The following article can be found here.

Hans Christian Anderson wrote a famous allegorical tale about a vain emperor who was deceived by two weavers claiming they could weave clothes possessing a magical quality: They became invisible to anyone stupid or unfit for their job. Realizing the obvious benefit this could yield him, the king commissioned these magical clothes to be made. The swindlers pretended to weave using an empty loom while stashing all the fine materials they were given. Everyone, including the emperor himself, acted as if the beautiful robes had indeed been woven, out of fear of appearing to be fools and losing their jobs. The naked emperor paraded through town with his invisible robe until an innocent child bravely pointed out that the emperor was indeed naked, exposing the deceptive spell the swindlers had cast on the people.

This tale seems particularly apropos to the situation of the Catholic Church on Guam. We have a bishop accused of child abuse but still awaiting the opportunity to clear his name. Meanwhile, anything even remotely connected to this bishop, from the Neocatechumenal Way to Kamalen Karitat to the Redemptoris Mater seminary and the San Luis de Vitores Theological Institute, seems to have been already declared guilty by association.

Biased media coverage
This witch hunt is leading our island down a troubling path. A recently passed change in the statute of limitations for sex abuse allegations has led to more than 100 lawsuits against the church demanding financial compensation. Certainly, no one wants to question the validity of each of these claims and be accused of callousness towards the abuse victims — this would mean public and political suicide. Certainly, at least not the Catholic Church, which is rushing to settle these claims with millions in church property ready to be sold. Fueled by biased and often shallow media coverage, a mob mentality has taken over our island, coloring the truth to fit the dubious scenarios promoted by trumpeters who want to be rid of the bishop and any trace of his legacy on Guam, while failing to subject these serious allegations to the equally serious scrutiny they deserve.
What is the truth? The bishop is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. While we await the decision from a Vatican canonical tribunal, we should be a reminded of a few things.
During his time as archbishop, he has fought staunchly against gambling, same-sex marriage, abortion, and other threats to our island’s moral fabric which the church continues to oppose.
New Evangelization
Sensing the urgent need to defend this moral fabric here on Guam, Archbishop Apuron has sought ways to implement the New Evangelization proposed by Saint John Paul II. One of the instruments for evangelizing those near and far from the church is the Neocatechumenal Way, a post-baptismal itinerary of faith embraced by the last five popes. The fruits of this itinerary here on Guam have mirrored those seen in countries throughout the world: countless marriages healed and rebuilt, an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the formation of parish-based communities ready to bear witness to the gospel with their lives to those on the margins of society.
The fruits of the Redemptoris Mater seminary and the San Luis de Vitores Theological Institute will not soon be forgotten, both on Guam and across the Pacific: 17 diocesan priests have been ordained, serving today as pastors, parochial vicars, formators and missionary catechists. The institute’s affiliation with the Lateran University has provided premier higher learning for these priests and made Guam a preferential option for priestly formation from dioceses around the Pacific. The institute meant many bishops didn’t have to send their seminarians to St. Patrick’s Seminary in California at a cost of over $40,000 per year, when the total cost for one seminarian was only $10,000 per year in Guam. It is no wonder that 31 bishops in the insular Pacific supported the institute’s erection and have since sent numerous vocations there.
When did this institution, recognized in 2009 by the Guam Legislature for its “continuous contribution towards the improvement and betterment of the quality of life for our island community and its people,” become such an inconvenience for this island? How does closing both the seminary and the institute promote reconciliation in our church? Truly the illusion is that anyone and anything affiliated with Archbishop Apuron (including vocations) is tainted fruit. The key is to maintain this illusion as an established belief, regardless of whether he is found innocent. Who will be the child that breaks this spell?

Dr. R.B. Eusebio is a resident of Sinajana.

Evangelizing In Two By Twos and the Public Squares

The Neocatechumenal Way evangelized on foot, which is what the Apostles and the Early Christians did.  After all, there were no internet in those days.  The Apostles went door to door preaching the word of God.  They also preached in the public squares.  

Mark 6:7-12   Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” They went out and preached that people should repent.

Interestingly enough, the NCW have evangelized in two by twos, taking nothing with them except their bible.  This is taking it to the extreme.  Even the Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons do not do this in their two by twos.  Nevertheless, evangelizing on foot or in the public squares is still one of the best forms of evangelization because there is interaction between people.   

The Apostles and Early Christians also evangelized in the public squares.  In 2015, the NCW went out in the Great Mission.  A community from the Great Mission was also born.  The Great Mission of the NCW took place in 10,000 public squares in 120 countries. As a result of the Great Mission, about 25,000 people returned to the parishes. In the United States, the Great Mission took place in 200 public squares, and 1500 people returned to the parishes. 

I had posted this video in my blog previously and decided to re-post it again.  According to Church Universal, "the Neocatechumenal Way works to evangelize and instruct adults on the truths of the Catholic faith. Fr. Joseph Mary Wolfe is joined by members of the Way who demonstrate the impact it has had on their lives and taught them to depend on God for happiness, not the material world."  If you cannot see the video below, it is found in the following weblink: 

https://youtu.be/mFn1bOppBYE 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Bring All To God

I was reading in the PDN a few days ago something about what Archbishop Byrnes said.  I could not find the article I read, but I found it in USA Today, which was copied off PDN.  According to USA Today.
All these critical missions aside, Byrnes, 59, lives a simple life.
One can see him walking in his sandals in the parking lot of Pay-Less Supermarket at the Agana Shopping Center after grocery shopping. Or having lunch in the food court of the Micronesia Mall in Dededo with other clergy members. Or having his hair cut just like anyone else.
“I hope that people will remember that I am approachable,” he said. “In places like Detroit, I could go incognito. I really can’t here.”
Guam is a very small island that where the Archbishop goes, everyone recognizes and acknowledges him.  It is true what Archbishop Byrnes say.  In places like Detroit, he can easily go incognito, but not in a small island like Guam. If he is seen swimming at Ipao Beach, you can be sure that news of that will spread by word of mouth throughout the entire island.  People here tend to talk a lot.  Because he is recognized everywhere here, this is where he needs to be careful.  People who receive a lot of attention and recognition can easily fall into the sin of pride.  This is not about him.  This is about God. 

Pope Francis had to remind himself everyday that it is not about him.  It is about God.  This keeps himself in check otherwise the sin of pride can easily crawl into his heart.  The role of the shepherds (bishops and priests) is to bring all people to Christ, not to themselves.  Unfortunately, there are some priests who have brought people to themselves rather than to Christ.  We see this whenever a priest is assigned to another parish. When he leaves, the parishioners of his previous parish follow him to the new parish he is assigned to.  


If a parishioner only comes to Church because they like the priest or because they like the music, they are coming to Church for the wrong reason.  Likewise, if a priest enjoys the attention he is receiving and is flattered that his former parishioners attend the church he is assigned to,  then he has failed to do his duty as a pastor, which is to lead the faithful to Christ rather than to himself. The priest would do well to remind his former parishioners to follow Christ, return to their parish, and welcome the new priest assign to their parish.


The Apostle Paul had the same problem when some people look up to him rather than to Christ. 


1 Corinthians 1:11-13  My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[fn]”; still another, “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?  


St. Paul did not like that some people were saying that they follow him when they should be following Christ.  


Missionaries also remind themselves that this mission is not about them.  This is about God. We are only His instruments. Before Archbishop Byrnes became the Coadjutor Bishop in Guam, we have gone on the two by two mission, announcing the Good News on foot from door to door here in Guam.  During the two by two, we tell people that we are from the parish of so and so. Our goal is to bring them to God and His Church.  This is not about us.  This is about God.  We remind ourselves that we are only His instruments doing His will on earth.  We are His hands and feet, doing works of charity, and announcing the Gospel to everyone so that all may come to know Christ.