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This leadership expert is guiding faithful Catholics from the pew to the boardroom

Cristofer Pereyra is the CEO of Tepeyac Leadership, Inc. in Phoenix, Arizona. / Courtesy of TLI

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 3, 2022 / 11:18 am (CNA).

Many people assume “Catholic leadership” stops at the pulpit, the principal’s office, or the doors to the parish center. Cristofer Pereyra wants to broaden that mindset.

A former television reporter with Univision, Pereyra led the Hispanic Mission Office for the Diocese of Phoenix under Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. But an experience in a civic leadership training program opened his eyes to another mission: Teaching faithful lay Catholics how to be effective leaders in society.

Pereyra discovered that these types of programs are shaping leaders in small towns and large cities across the U.S. While they provide practical guidance and excellent networking opportunities, they also tend to advance a secular agenda that’s at odds with the Catholic faith, he found.

That revelation motivated him to launch the Tepeyac Leadership Initiative, which offers a five-month-long training program designed specifically for lay Catholics. As the initiative explains on its website, the goal is to educate participants “in the core teachings of the Church and their concrete application to the career world.” 

Now Pereyra has a book out that distills the program’s key principles: Catholic Leadership for Civil Society: A Practical Guide on Authentic Lay Leadership,” co-written with Erin Monnin. Archbishop José Gómez of Los Angeles wrote the introduction.

CNA spoke with Pereyra recently about the book and his belief that all Catholics are called to be leaders. Here are some highlights of the discussion:

Why did you start the Tepeyac Leadership program and write the book?

What we're trying to do, what we've been trying to do for the past six years, is to show lay Catholics what it means to be a leader out in civil society. Moreover, we have been extending them an invitation to realize that this is just no longer an option. Our true vocation is to seek to become influential leaders in society so that we can influence others for Christ to bring us closer to Christ. This is particularly for professionals, people who have been blessed by God with a college education and a professional career. The leadership initiative is the flagship program for my organization, Tepeyac Leadership. In our five-month, 18-week program we are trying to change the minds of lay Catholics, and we're forming them. Then, we're sending them out with a very concrete mindset and a very concrete mission, and that is to insert themselves into the secular institutions of society.

What led you to want to make a difference in Catholic leadership?

I was working for Bishop Olmsted as the director of the Hispanic Mission Office. A representative of the diocese sent me to a local secular civic leadership development program in Phoenix, Arizona. Going through that experience opened my eyes to the world and the reality of civic leadership development in the United States. It is in every major city in the United States, as I discovered. They have been placing and catapulting people into local leadership positions in their community. So their aims and goals are for service, philanthropy, even politics. Most of our public elected officials in the United States get their feet wet through this program. I had mixed feelings going through the program because in most of the sessions and discussions, I tended to be the lone conservative or religious voice in the room. Most of these programs around the United States form leaders with values that directly counter Catholic teaching.  

I spoke to the bishop, and said, “I think this is not a bad idea. It's a noble concept. Who could be against forming leaders? It is just not being oriented right, the way they're doing it. I think we can do it better.” We borrowed a template from the secular world, and that's how Tepeyac Leadership got started. We named this project simply because we were inspired by the story of St. Juan Diego (who had an encounter with the Blessed Virgin Mary on a hill by that name.) We wanted to ask Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego to intercede for the future of the program, which they've done, tremendously. 

What is the objective, specifically?

For us, the preeminent field for leadership, for Catholic leaders and civil society, is board service (on the board of a business or other organization.) Our question is, “Where are the Catholics when big decisions are being made?” If there were any Catholics at all, they either lack the information or the courage to speak up for truth. So our objective as an organization is ultimately to form and prepare to send out and encourage committed Catholics to seek out seats at those tables where decisions are being made. Those are decisions that impact the culture. We simply want to help bring about the decisions, the right decisions, that will bring about the common good, guided by our Catholic faith. To do that, we need to be well-formed and have a seat at the table. 

Is the program restricted to top-level executives?

We have broadened the definition of “board service.” We definitely are referring to actual boards — governance boards, advisory boards, fundraising boards, nonprofits, for-profits, pay-based, non-pay based, all of it. We definitely want more Catholics on those boards. But we're expanding the definition. We are also talking about your local homeowner's association, your teacher association, boards for your local public school district, local municipality. Ultimately, we just need more people, well-formed and committed Catholics, in all those areas where decisions are being made. 

What does Jesus say about leadership?

I don't know that the word “leadership” itself is in the (Gospels). Jesus points us toward the type of leadership that we must become in many instances, like when he asks us to be perfect, like his Father is perfect. What is Jesus truly saying? We are human beings; we're not going to be perfect. What he's inviting us to do is to try to become the best versions of ourselves every single day. Strive to grow in virtue, all of the virtues that he modeled for us. If every day we enter into a lifelong commitment to shape and grow and build our character by growing in virtue, then we are striving to be perfect, like God the Father is perfect.

The Tepeyac Leadership Initiative (TLI) program, which costs $2,000 per person, consists of weekly, virtual, online sessions from February through June. Participants also attend an all-day retreat, either virtually or in person. The program has three tracks, grouped by time zone. For more information, visit TLI’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

Pope Francis: Evangelization is not ‘personal activism’ but a witness of love

Pope Francis prays the Angelus from the window of the Apostolic Palace on July 3, 2022. / Vatican Media/CNA

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2022 / 06:15 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Sunday that evangelization should not be seen as “personal activism,” but a witness of love in relationship with others.

In his Angelus address on July 3, the pope posed a question: “How do we bring the good news of the Gospel to others?

“Do we do it with a fraternal spirit and style or in the manner of the world with prominence, competitiveness, and efficiency?” he asked.

Speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the pope encouraged Catholics to work in collaboration with “the witness of fraternity.”

“It is possible to develop perfect pastoral plans, implement well-made projects, organize down to the smallest details. You can summon crowds and have many means, but if there is no availability for one's brothers and sisters, the evangelical mission does not advance,” the pope said.

Pope Francis reflected on how Jesus sent his disciples “two by two” in Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 10:1-9).

“The disciples were sent two by two, not individually. Going on a mission two by two, from a practical point of view, would seem to have more disadvantages than advantages. There is a risk that the two do not get along, that they have a different pace, that one gets tired or gets sick along the way, forcing the other to stop too. On the other hand, when you are alone, it seems that the journey becomes faster and smoother. However, Jesus does not think so: in front of him he does not send lonely people, but disciples who go two by two,” the pope said.

“Let us ask ourselves if we have the ability to collaborate, if we know how to make decisions together, sincerely respecting those around us and taking into account their point of view, if we do it in community, not alone. In fact, it is above all in this way that the life of the disciple reveals that of the Master, really announcing him to others,” he said.

After praying the Angelus with the crowd, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Ukraine.

“I appeal to the leaders of nations and international organizations to react to the tendency to accentuate conflict and confrontation,” he said.

The pope underlined that the world needs to move from focusing on political, economic, and military power strategies to a “global peace project,” which says “no to a world divided among conflicting powers” and “yes to a world united among peoples and civilizations that respect each other.”

He said: “The world needs peace — not a peace based on the balance of arms, on mutual fear. No, this will not do. This is turning history back seventy years.”

“The Ukrainian crisis should have been, but — if you want it to be — can still become a challenge for wise statesmen, capable of building in dialogue a better world for new generations. With God's help, this is always possible!”

PHOTOS: Heated abortion confrontation in NYC

Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. / Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

New York City, N.Y., Jul 3, 2022 / 05:56 am (CNA).

Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a New York City Planned Parenthood abortion clinic Saturday, setting off a tense, hours’ long confrontation in Lower Manhattan.

With NYPD officers slowly pushing against the crowd, the marchers eventually reached the clinic. There were no immediate reports of arrests.

A counter-demonstration organized by NYC for Abortion Rights began Saturday morning outside the Basilica of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Mulberry Street, where a monthly Witness for Life Mass is held at 8 a.m. on the first Saturday of the month. The Mass is followed by the recitation of the Rosary outside the nearby Planned Parenthood clinic, then benediction back at the basilica before a social with the Sisters of Life.

On Saturday, counter-demonstrators tried to stop participants from leaving the basilica, though marchers managed to slip out a back door, AMNY reported.

The marchers’ path to the clinic was blocked by pro-abortion protesters who pushed back against police trying to clear the way.

Kathryn Jean Lopez,  senior fellow at the National Review Institute and an editor-at-large of National Review, tweeted from the scene that it took marchers more than an hour to reach the clinic, which is just a block from the basilica. Marchers were “praying all the way,” she said.

Outside the basilica, demonstrators chanted, “Thank God for abortion,” and “F---- the Church,” among other slogans.

The demonstration comes a little over a week since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that legalized abortion nationwide. With Roe no longer in effect, the issue of abortion is left up to the states to legislate.

Photojournalist Jeffrey Bruno captured the march and counter-demonstration for CNA.

Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Hundreds of pro-abortion demonstrators tried to block a monthly pro-life march and prayer vigil at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022, setting off a tense confrontation. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in the Congolese rite: ‘Peace begins with us’

Pope Francis celebrated Mass for Rome’s Congolese community in St. Peter's Basilica on July 3, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2022 / 04:10 am (CNA).

Amid singing, clapping, and dancing to traditional Congolese music, Pope Francis celebrated the Zaire Use of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday.

The pope began his homily on July 3 with the word, “esengo,” which means “joy” in Lingala, the Bantu-based creole spoken in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo and by millions of speakers across Central Africa.

Pope Francis celebrated the Mass for Rome’s Congolese community on the day that he was due to offer Mass in Kinshasa before his trip to Africa was canceled at the request of the pope’s doctors.

The pope, whose mobility has been limited due to a knee injury, remained seated throughout the Mass. Francis presided over the Liturgy of the Word and gave the homily. Archbishop Richard Gallagher offered the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

“Today, dear brothers and sisters, let us pray for peace and reconciliation in your homeland, in the wounded and exploited Democratic Republic of Congo,” Pope Francis said.

“We join the Masses celebrated in the country according to this intention and pray that Christians may be witnesses of peace, capable of overcoming any feeling of resentment, any feeling of vengeance, overcoming the temptation that reconciliation is not possible, any unhealthy attachment to their own group that leads to despising others.”

The pope underlined that the Lord calls all Christians to be “ambassadors of peace.”

The Democratic Republic of Congo has experienced a wave of violence in recent years. Dozens of armed groups are believed to operate in the eastern region of DR Congo despite the presence of more than 16,000 UN peacekeepers. Local Catholic bishops have repeatedly appealed for an end to the bloodshed.

“Brother, sister, peace begins with us,” Pope Francis said.

"If you live in his peace, Jesus arrives and your family, your society changes. They change if your heart is not at war in the first place, it is not armed with resentment and anger, it is not divided, it is not double, it is not false. Putting peace and order in one's heart, defusing greed, extinguishing hatred and resentment, fleeing corruption, fleeing cheating and cunning: this is where peace begins.”

Peace was expected to be a key theme of the pope’s canceled Africa trip. Pope Francis was planning to spend July 2-5 in the Congolese cities of Kinshasa and Goma, and July 5-7 in the South Sudanese capital Juba.

After the Vatican announced that the trip was postponed due to the ongoing medical treatment for the pope’s knee pain, Pope Francis said on June 13: “We will bring Kinshasa to St. Peter’s, and there we will celebrate with all the Congolese in Rome, of which there are many.”

About 2,000 people were present in the inculturated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the first Sunday of July.

Women in brightly colored traditional dresses sang and danced as they prayed the Gloria. People clapped and shouted as Archbishop Richard Gallagher incensed the main altar.

The gifts were brought up to the altar in a dancing procession. Religious sisters in the pews stepped from side to side together to the music.

At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis greeted some members of the local Congolese community from his wheelchair.

“May the Lord help us to be missionaries today, going in the company of brother and sister; having on his lips the peace and closeness of God; carrying in the heart the meekness and goodness of Jesus, Lamb who takes away the sins of the world,” the pope said.

The Zaire Use of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is an inculturated Mass formally approved in 1988 for the dioceses of what was then known as the Republic of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The only inculturated Eucharistic celebration approved after the Second Vatican Council, it was developed following a call for adaptation of the liturgy in "Sacrosanctum concilium," Vatican II's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

In a video message in 2020, Pope Francis said: "The experience of the Congolese rite of the celebration of Mass can serve as an example and model for other cultures.”

Father Mike Schmitz's next podcast, 'Catechism in a Year,' starts Jan. 1

Father Mike Schmitz is the host of the podcast "the Bible in a Year," produced by Ascension. / Courtesy of Ascension

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 2, 2022 / 09:38 am (CNA).

Father Mike Schmitz, the voice behind the “Bible in a Year” podcast, will launch a new “Catechism in a Year” podcast on Jan. 1, 2023. 

For the 365 days of 2023, Schmitz will read through the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church, while “providing explanation, insight, and encouragement along the way,” according to a press release. The new podcast will be free on all streaming platforms, as well as on the Hallow prayer app.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a compilation of fundamental Christian truths and the essential teachings of the Church. The official U.S. version of the text is more than 900 pages long.

Ascension, the podcast’s publisher, reports that the “Bible in a Year” podcast has garnered 6.8 billion total listening minutes, as well as 300 million downloads to date.

In an announcement video, Schmitz said, “If your experience with the ‘Bible in a year’ was it took your life and started moving it and started bringing you closer and closer to the Lord, the ‘Catechism in a Year,’ I’m telling you, is going to put your prayer life and your relationship with the Lord into hyperdrive.”

In preparation for “Catechism in a Year,” Ascension will publish a new version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church so that podcast listeners can follow along.

The podcast’s webpage says, “If you have ever wanted to understand what it means to be Catholic and allow those truths to shape your life — this podcast is for you!” The page also includes a list of the goals of the podcast.

Ascension also includes some resources for keeping up to date with the “Catechism in a Year” news, including a Facebook group that listeners can join while awaiting the January launch.

Schmitz is the director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth as well as the chaplain for the Newman Center at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD). Fr. Mike attended St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was ordained for the Diocese of Duluth in 2003.

Here are 11 American saints to remember on July Fourth

Photo illustration. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jul 2, 2022 / 08:38 am (CNA).

Americans celebrate their country’s independence on July 4th — as well as the people who formed the United States into the country that it is today. Those include American saints.

The U.S. bishops count a total of 11 American saints who dedicated their lives to God and those in need in this country. Here are their stories.

1. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 1774-1821

Seton became the first American-born saint in 1975. Born in New York City, she married the love of her life at 19 and welcomed five children. She endured much suffering: Her husband William died of tuberculosis after facing financial trouble. Two years later, Seton converted to Catholicism and went on to found the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph — the first order of religious women in the U.S. She founded several schools, including the first free U.S. Catholic school. Today, she is considered the founder of the U.S. Catholic School system.

Her feast day is Jan. 4.

Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), the first native born United States citizen to be canonized, circa 1810s. Shutterstock
Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821), the first native born United States citizen to be canonized, circa 1810s. Shutterstock

2. St. John Neumann, 1811-1860

Neumann is the first male U.S. citizen to become a saint. Originally from Bohemia, known today as the Czech Republic, he traveled to New York City to be ordained a priest. At the time, he was one of only 36 priests serving 200,000 Catholics in the New York area. He joined the Redemptorists at age 29 and became the first member to profess vows in the U.S. Neumann served as a missionary and, later, as the fourth bishop of Philadelphia. He founded the first diocesan Catholic school system in the United States, which grew from two to 100 under his care. He was canonized in 1977.

His feast day is Jan. 5.

3. St. Kateri Tekakwitha, 1656-1680

Tekakwitha, also known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” became the first Native American saint in 2012. She was raised in Auriesville, New York, by her uncle, a Mohawk chief, after her parents died from a smallpox epidemic. After encountering Jesuit priests in her village, she converted to Catholicism at 19. Her relatives and the village attempted to punish her for her beliefs. She later ran away to Montreal, Canada, where she could practice her faith and live out her life as a consecrated virgin.

Her feast day is July 14.

Statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha with lily. Shutterstock
Statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha with lily. Shutterstock

4. St. Katharine Drexel, 1858-1955

A Philadelphia heiress raised by devout parents, Drexel dedicated her wealth and her life to serving Native Americans and African Americans. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. Her work included starting schools in 13 states for African Americans, as well as 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. She also established 50 missions for Native Americans. Together with her order, she founded New Orleans' Xavier University, the only historically black U.S. Catholic college. She became a saint in 2000.

Her feast day is March 3.

5. St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, 1769-1852

Duchesne served as a missionary to Native Americans. Born in France, she joined the Visitation nuns at 19 before being forced to leave during the French Revolution. Ten years later, she joined the Society of the Sacred Heart. She came to America in 1818, when she traveled to the Louisiana Territory to minister to Native Americans. She later started the first free school for girls west of the Mississippi River and the first Catholic school for Native Americans. She became a saint in 1988.

Her feast day is Nov. 18.

6. St. Isaac Jogues, 1607-1646

A Jesuit priest from France, Jogues served as a missionary to the Indians in “New France” and became one of the North American martyrs. When he and his companions traveled to Iroquois country in 1641, they were tortured and imprisoned by the Mohawks. He survived and even baptized some of the Native Americans before he escaped back to France. But he felt called to return, even though he knew he might not survive a second time. He was killed with a tomahawk in Auriesville, New York. He became a saint in 1930.

His feast day is Oct. 19.

7. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, 1850-1917

A missionary from Italy, Cabrini founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When she first traveled to New York City, she discovered that the house she had planned to turn into an orphanage was unavailable. When the archbishop advised her to return to Italy, she refused. Instead, she founded orphanages, hospitals, convents, and schools, many of which served Italian immigrants. She became the first U.S. citizen to be canonized a saint in 1946.

Her feast day is Nov. 13.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (public domain).
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (public domain).

8. St. Théodore Guérin, 1798-1856

A missionary from France, Guérin founded the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. At 25, she first joined the Sisters of Providence of Ruillé-sur-Loir before leading a group of sisters to Indiana in 1840. There, she opened a convent and the first girls’ boarding school in that state. Even as her health failed her, she continued to open schools throughout Indiana and Illinois while facing anti-Catholic sentiment. She became a saint in 2006.

Her feast day is Oct. 3.

9. St. Damien de Veuster of Molokai, 1840-1889

Originally from Belgium, St. Damien dedicated his life as a missionary to those with leprosy in Molokai, Hawaii. At 19, he joined the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. He then volunteered to serve those with leprosy who were quarantined on the island of Molokai. He spent his time building schools, churches, and hospitals. After contracting and dying from leprosy himself, he became a saint in 2009.

His feast day is May 10.

10. St. Marianne Cope, 1838-1918

Born in Germany, Cope joined the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis in Syracuse, New York, before serving multiple times as the novice mistress of her congregation and the superior of St. Joseph's Hospital. She later offered to go to Hawaii to serve those with leprosy. The Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse, led by Cope, joined St. Damien in Molokai. A former teacher and principal, Cope focused on education. She also brought joy and inspired the women there by gifting them with bright scarves and dresses. She became a saint in 2012.

Her feast day is Jan. 23.

11. St. Junípero Serra, 1713-1784

Serra served as the founder of the Spanish missions in California. Originally from Spain, he joined the Franciscans before becoming a missionary. He served those in Mexico before going to California, where he founded nine of the 21 Spanish missions and taught the Native Americans various trades. He became the first saint canonized on U.S. soil in 2015.

His feast day is July 1.

Lalo Garcia's painting of Saint Junípero Serra is featured in the '250 Years of Mission' exhibit. Lalo Garcia.
Lalo Garcia's painting of Saint Junípero Serra is featured in the '250 Years of Mission' exhibit. Lalo Garcia.

Pope Francis ‘greatly disappointed’ over missing trip to Africa this week

Pope Francis recorded a video message for the people of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. / Screenshot of YouTube video

Vatican City, Jul 2, 2022 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has said that he is “greatly disappointed” that he had to postpone his trip to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was supposed to take place this week.

In a video message published on July 2, the pope urged the Congolese and South Sudanese people place their hope in God.

“I want to tell you this: do not let yourselves be robbed of hope,” Pope Francis said.

“Think, you who are so dear to me, of how much more you are precious and beloved in the eyes of God, who never disappoints those who put their hope in him. You have a great mission, all of you, beginning with your political leaders: it is that of turning a page in order to blaze new trails, new paths of reconciliation and forgiveness, of serene coexistence and of development.”

The Vatican announced on June 10 that the pope’s trip to Africa, originally scheduled for July 2-7, had to be postponed at the request of his doctors “in order not to jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee.”

The 85-year-old has been suffering from an inflamed ligament in his knee, limiting his ability to walk. He has been using a wheelchair and a walking cane during public appearances since the first week of May.

“The Lord knows how greatly disappointed I am to have had to postpone this long awaited and much-desired visit. But we remain confident and hopeful that we shall be able to meet as soon as possible. In the meantime, I would like to tell you that, particularly in these weeks, you have been that much closer to my heart. I carry within me, in prayer, the pain that you have endured for all too long,” Pope Francis said.

“I think of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the exploitation, violence and insecurity from which it suffers, particularly in the east of the country, where armed conflicts continue to cause much intense suffering, aggravated by the indifference and the convenience of many.”

“I think of South Sudan and the plea for peace arising from its people who, weary of violence and poverty, await concrete results from the process of national reconciliation.”

Pope Francis said that he would like to contribute to the peace process by making an ecumenical pilgrimage in the future with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin is currently visiting Democratic Republic of Congo this week as a representative of the pope for a July 1-8 trip that will also include a visit to South Sudan.

The cardinal will preside over the pope’s scheduled Masses in Kinshasa on July 3 and in Juba on July 7.

In his video message, Pope Francis said: “There is one other thing that I would say to you: the tears that you shed on earth and the prayers that you raise to heaven are not in vain. The consolation of God will come, because he has ‘plans of peace and not of woe’ (Jeremiah 29:11). Even now, as I look forward to meeting you, I ask that God’s peace fill your hearts.”

“As I await the opportunity to see your faces, to feel at home in your lively Christian communities, to embrace all of you with my presence and to bless your lands, my prayers and my affection for you and your peoples, become all the more intense. I send you my heartfelt blessing and I ask all of you, please, to continue to pray for me.”

PHOTOS: Scenes from the feast of saints Peter and Paul in Rome

An image of St. Peter in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on June 29, 2022. / Daniel Ibañez/CNA

Vatican City, Jul 2, 2022 / 06:00 am (CNA).

The feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, whose official name is the joint Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, is the commemoration of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Simon Peter and Paul of Tarsus, celebrated on June 29.

As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI recalled in 2012, "Christian tradition has always considered St. Peter and St. Paul as inseparable: together, in fact, they represent the whole Gospel of Christ... Although humanly very different from one another, and despite the fact that there was no lack of conflict in their relationship, they constituted a new way of being brothers, lived according to the Gospel, an authentic way made possible by the grace of the Gospel of Christ at work in them. Only the following of Jesus leads to the new fraternity."

The feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, whose official name is the joint Solemnity of Saints Peter and  Paul, is the commemoration of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Simon Peter and Paul of Tarsus, celebrated on June 29. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
The feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, whose official name is the joint Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, is the commemoration of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Simon Peter and Paul of Tarsus, celebrated on June 29. Daniel Ibañez/CNA

Pope Francis participated in the Mass for the Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, patron saints of Rome, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. He presided over the opening rites of the Mass and gave the homily on June 29, 2022. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
Pope Francis participated in the Mass for the Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, patron saints of Rome, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. He presided over the opening rites of the Mass and gave the homily on June 29, 2022. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
The ceremony on June 29, 2022, was attended by members of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and Pope Francis also blessed the pallia for the metropolitan archbishops appointed in the last year. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
The ceremony on June 29, 2022, was attended by members of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and Pope Francis also blessed the pallia for the metropolitan archbishops appointed in the last year. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
During the homily on June 29, 2022, the Pope encourage the faithful to set out beyond our inner resistance and made an invitation to stand up as a synodal Church. Pope Francis used the witness of Peter and Paul to reiterate his idea of an outgoing, moving, missionary Church. Not to fall, the Pope says, "into formalism and habit." Remembering that the proclamation of the Gospel is not neutral and does not bend to the logic of the world. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
During the homily on June 29, 2022, the Pope encourage the faithful to set out beyond our inner resistance and made an invitation to stand up as a synodal Church. Pope Francis used the witness of Peter and Paul to reiterate his idea of an outgoing, moving, missionary Church. Not to fall, the Pope says, "into formalism and habit." Remembering that the proclamation of the Gospel is not neutral and does not bend to the logic of the world. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
As is the tradition every year on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Francis blessed the pallia of the metropolitan archbishops he appointed during the past year. At the end of the Mass, he gave each archbishop present his pallium in a small box tied with a brown ribbon on June 29, 2022. Daniel Ibañez/CNA
As is the tradition every year on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Francis blessed the pallia of the metropolitan archbishops he appointed during the past year. At the end of the Mass, he gave each archbishop present his pallium in a small box tied with a brown ribbon on June 29, 2022. Daniel Ibañez/CNA

What are the origins of the Feast of the Saints Peter and Paul?

Elon Musk posts photo with Pope Francis at the Vatican

Elon Musk posted a photo with Pope Francis on Twitter. / null

Vatican City, Jul 2, 2022 / 01:55 am (CNA).

Elon Musk has said that he met with Pope Francis at the Vatican this week.

The world’s richest man posted a photo with the pope on Twitter on July 2. Four of Musk’s eight children were also pictured standing beside Pope Francis.

“Honored to meet @Pontifex yesterday,” Musk wrote in the social media post published at 3:54 a.m. Rome time.

With a net worth of more than $200 billion dollars, Musk became the richest man in the world in 2021. The head of Tesla and SpaceX is seeking to buy Twitter for approximately $44 billion.

The Vatican has yet to publicly acknowledge that the meeting took place. The private meeting was not listed in the pope’s schedule, which usually includes private audiences, and the Holy See Press Office has not responded to a request for comment on the meeting.

With Roe v Wade a dead letter, Biden rallies governors to promote abortion access

President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House, Sept. 9, 2021 / WhiteHouse.gov

Denver Newsroom, Jul 1, 2022 / 17:11 pm (CNA).

In the wake of a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, President Joe Biden met with a group of Democratic governors on Friday to discuss how to increase access to abortion and to codify abortion rights at the federal level. 

Various governors backed pro-abortion amendments to state constitutions, state funding for abortion, and using federal facilities and supportive Native American lands as possible venues for providing abortions.

Biden himself called the 6-3 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision a “terrible,  extreme decision” and a “tragic reversal” of Roe v. Wade.  It would upend lives and impact “the health and safety of millions of women,” he said to the portion of a July 1 videoconference open to the press.

“I share the public outrage that this extremist court is committed to moving America backwards, with fewer rights, less autonomy and politicians invading the most personal decisions not only of women, but, you’ll find, if they expand on this decision, men as well.” said Biden. “This is not over.”

Biden now backs abortion despite being a professed Catholic. He is the second Catholic to become U.S. president.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomed the Dobbs decision.

“America was founded on the truth that all men and women are created equal, with God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” conference president Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles and pro-life committee chair Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said in a joint statement. 

After the U.S. Supreme Court mandated legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, more than 60 million abortions took place. 

Nine Democratic governors joined President Biden for the videoconference: Kathy Hochul of New York, Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Jared Polis of Colorado, Ned Lamont of Massachusetts, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Jay Inslee of Washington, Kate Brown of Oregon, and Dan McKee of Rhode Island.

Biden recounted his administration’s actions last week. The administration would seek to protect women traveling interstate to seek an abortion if state governments intervene, though no legislatures have passed such laws. The Biden administration will also intervene if FDA-approved medication is blocked at the state level. He also called for more funding for family planning, clarifying, “not for abortion but family planning.”

The president said he believes states which restrict abortion are preparing “unlawful actions.”

Though Biden backs what he says is a “codification” of the Roe v. Wade decision by Congress, he noted there are not enough votes to change the filibuster rules. Abortion backers need “two more votes” in the Senate, he said, claiming that Republicans will “try to ban abortions nationwide” if they take control of Congress in November.

Hochul told the conference that she is seeing “a lot of fear and anxiety” from women who support abortion.

“This is frightening time for women all across our nation, a lot of fear and anxiety out there,” she said. In her view, abortion access is “a matter of life and death” for women, saying that illegal abortions are “unsafe.”

The New York governor said she has expanded an extraordinary session of the state legislature from its focus on gun legislation. It will now add what Hochul characterized as “further protections for women in our state,” including an “equality agenda” that bars discrimination “on pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes.”

She also aims to “enshrine abortion rights in our constitution” and to establish New York as a “safe harbor” for abortion seekers.

Hochul called on Biden to use federal facilities to help provide abortions in states “hostile to abortion rights.” She suggested using veterans hospitals, military facilities, and other places under control of the federal government. 

It is unclear whether such federal assistance would be legal. The Hyde Amendment bars most federal funding for abortion. 

Hochul also said the federal government should try to protect abortion seekers and doctors from “vigilante justice” and “private rights of action.” 

A Texas law allowed private lawsuits against those who perform or help procure illegal abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectible. Lawmakers added this ability in part because local pro-abortion authorities might decline to enforce the law. The Texas law explicitly bars lawsuits against a pregnant woman seeking an abortion.  

Cooper, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, characterized governors as the “last line of defense” for legal abortion. He said Planned Parenthood officials in North Carolina have told him they expect about 10,000 women seeking abortions from out of state in the next year.

“We are not backing down. We are ready to do what is needed to protect women’s health,” he said, using a common euphemism for abortion.

Lujan Grisham of New Mexico cited the state legislature’s recent repeal of a law criminalizing abortion. The state has also increased funding for family planning and “abortion care services.” Her executive order will reject any cooperation with states investigating violations of their abortion laws, including investigations or extraditions. 

She suggested that Native American lands could be venues for abortion clinics. 

“Our Indian Health Service clinics could be another effective vehicle” for providing abortions, she said, referring to a service under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The governor said that she has received outreach from “sovereign nations” which she thinks would be “very supportive and interested.”

President Biden said his administration is “looking at all alternatives, including the sovereign nation question.”

He also suggested Americans will back legal abortion, saying, “I think the American people are with us.”

Surveys about abortion give different answers depending on what is asked. Earlier this year, amid controversy over the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision draft leak, self-described pro-life survey respondents dipped to about 40%, according to Gallup. Other surveys indicate that while respondents say they support Roe v. Wade, they also support abortion restrictions which that precedent had barred, and even support returning questions about legal abortion to the state level. 

“I think people are going to be shocked when the first state that tries to arrest a woman for crossing a state line to get health services,” Biden said Friday, adding that such a move would show that ending Roe “affects all your basic rights.”

He told the governors that the Dobbs decision means “if you’ve got an 11-year-old child who’s a victim of incest who finds herself pregnant, she can’t get a choice. Her health can’t be protected if you’re raped and there’s no exceptions,” he said. He argued many people haven’t focused on these details beyond “the fundamental right of a women to be able to choose.”

The most recent proposal promising to codify Roe goes far beyond the original decision. The Women’s Health Protection Act, defeated in May by a 49-51 U.S. Senate vote, is an expansive abortion bill that would declare abortion a human right, undercut existing state pro-life laws, and force objecting doctors to perform abortions.

Biden had a record sceptical of legal abortion before becoming a strong backer of abortion causes.

Soon after Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, Biden said he thought the decision went “too far.” In his early career as a U.S. Senator from Delaware he voted for restrictions on federal funding for abortion. In a 1982 committee vote he supported a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade.