My dear friends in Christ,
Each year the National Church decides at the General Assembly what will be our National Charity for the year, a charity that will be supported by all of the Apostolic Catholic Church in North America (CACINA). This past year the charity chosen for 2018 was the Samaritan Women.
The Samaritan Women is a national Christian anti-trafficking organization whose mission is to raise awareness and increase prevention of domestic human trafficking, and provide transitional and long-term restorative care to those who have been impacted by this crime. The group has been assisting survivors since 2011 and they claim to invest in each woman academically, vocationally, spiritually, socially and in self-care. Those who leave the program become advocates in society to end modern day slavery.
Centered in Baltimore, the group is national and you can find more about it at www.thesamaritanwomen.org. Here you can read about the various services they offer and the programs they give. They will also provide speakers. During this month of October, I urge you to take up special collections for this cause or to do fundraisers that raise the perception of people to understand better the problems of immigration. You have been very generous in the past to our National Church yearly project, and I hope this year will be no exception. Christ’s message on how to treat aliens was very clear and very strong. It is important that we do our best to follow his teachings.
“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers [or sisters] of mine, you did for me!” (Matt 25:40)
Your servant in Christ.
Ronald Stephens, Presiding Bishop of CACINA
BY SUSANNAH BRYANSOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL
DANIA BEACH — A special kind of flock lined up for a blessing from Father Joe Spina on Sunday — pets of all kinds, with their owners in tow.
The crowd was mainly canine, but a few felines also came out for a splash of holy water and a little prayer under a tree outside the Humane Society of Broward County in Dania Beach.
Similar “blessing of the animals” ceremonies were held around the world this past week in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals.
Bella the Dachshund arrived in style, wearing a red dress and riding in a pet stroller to her 10th blessing, one for each year of her life.
“I took her for the first time in 2008,” said owner Rita Tortora, of Dania Beach.
A hand reached out to give Bella a pat on the head. It was Father Spina, perusing the crowd before the ceremony got under way.
“Are we waking you up?” he asked the sleepy-eyed girl.
Bella’s owner answered with a laugh: “This is her naptime.”
Nearby, creatures great and small gathered around. There was a Yorkie named Shelby, two Shih Tzu pals named Dylan and Zoe, a greyhound named Jade, a wiggly pug puppy named Chevy and a hairless Sphynx kitty named Stitch who came with her Havanese brothers, Harry and Waffles.
“St. Francis saw all of nature as part of God’s gift,” Father Spina, who leads services at the Parish of Saints Francis & Clare in Wilton Manors, told the gathering.
He’s been performing the ceremony at the shelter every year since 1997, spreading hope and faith to pet owners who come out of curiosity or for some deeper reason.
On Sunday, he had swag for each pet, gifting them with a medal of St. Francis to wear on their collar.
After the ceremony, Pompano Beach resident Pattie Duffy held on tight to Dylan, her 15-year-old Shih Tzu.
“Every day I wake up and say, ‘Thank you Jesus for another day with Dylan.’ He’s my joy and happiness.”
Oakland Park resident Diana Eustice brought her Cocker spaniels Scarlett and Rhett.
It was the first blessing ceremony for both pups.
Rhett is in good health, but two-year-old Scarlett is suffering from renal failure.
“She goes for IVs but she’s not in pain or suffering,” Eustice said. “It’s a miracle I still have her.
I count my blessings every day.”
Susannah Bryan can be reached at email@example.com or 954-356-4554. Find her on Twitter @Susannah_Bryan.
He was born Giuseppe Maria Desa, the son of Felice Desa and Francesca Panara in the village of Cupertino, then in the Province of Apulia, in the Kingdom of Naples, now in the Italian Province of Lecce. His father having died before his birth, however, the family home was seized to settle the large debts he had left, and his mother was forced to give birth to him in a stable.
Joseph began to experience ecstatic visions as a child, which were to continue throughout his life, and made him the object of scorn. His life was not helped by his frequent outbursts of anger. He was soon apprenticed by his uncle to a shoemaker. Feeling drawn to religious life, in 1620 he applied to the Conventual Franciscan friars, but was rejected due to his lack of education. He then applied to the Capuchin friars in Martino, near Taranto, by whom he was accepted in 1620 as a lay brother, but he was dismissed as his continued ecstasies made him unfit for the duties required of him.
After Joseph returned to the scorn of his family, he pleaded with the Conventual friars near Cupertino to be allowed to serve in their stables. After several years of working there, he had so impressed the friars with the devotion and simplicity of his life that he was admitted to their Order, destined to become a Catholic priest, in 1625. He was ordained a priest on March 28, 1628. He was then sent to the Madonna delle Grazie, Gravina in Puglia, where he spent the next 15 years.
After this point, the occasions of ecstasy in Joseph’s life began to multiply. It was claimed that he began to levitate while participating at the Mass or joining the community for the Divine Office, thereby gaining a widespread reputation of holiness among the people of the region and beyond. He was deemed disruptive by his religious superiors and Church authorities, however, and eventually was confined to a small cell, forbidden from joining in any public gathering of the community.
As the phenomenon of flying or levitation was widely believed to be connected with witchcraft, Joseph was denounced to the Inquisition. At their command, he was transferred from one Franciscan friary in the region to another for observation, first to Assisi (1639–1653), then briefly to Pietrarubbia and finally Fossombrone, where he lived with and under the supervision of the Capuchin friars (1653–57). He practiced a severe asceticism throughout his life, usually eating solid food only twice a week, and adding bitter powders to his meals. He passed 35 years of his life following this regimen.
Finally, on 9 July 1657, Joseph was allowed to return to a Conventual community, being sent to the one in Osimo, where he soon died.
Joseph was beatified in 1753 and canonized in 1767. His feast day is Sept.18.
“Servant of God, Set the example !
Preach by actions more than by words.
Actions penetrate the heart,
words slip by and are gone.”
(St. Joseph of Cupertino, OFM, Conv.)
A Pastoral Message from the Presiding Bishop
and College of Bishops
Response to the Pennsylvania Report on Sexual Abuse
As Presiding Bishop, I feel I must respond to yet another round of horrific discoveries regarding the abuse of children in the Roman church. The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America abhors the abuse and suffers with the victims.
There have been many people, knowledgeable and not, responding to why this abuse has gone on so long. Some see it as power issues in the church, some see celibacy as the cause, some see it as the lack of women in Catholic ministry. I can speak for the Catholic Apostolic Church when I say that we have made every attempt to see that we have no clergy that would abuse. All of our clergy undergo psychological testing before ordination or admittance. From the beginning almost seventy years ago, St. Charles of Brazil, our founder, saw the need for a married clergy and put that into practice. Since 2000 we have invited women to share in the priesthood. Our Bishops are few and deal primarily with the religious growth of the Church, leaving the laity to most of the daily running of the Church. The “power” is also shared by all. We are presently putting into place a committee that will advise us on how to ensure the safety of children in the care of anyone in our church, clergy or lay.
One of the positive things about an independent Catholic Church is that we are able to make changes that the Roman Church would take years to undertake. We are already doing what so many Roman theologians are suggesting for our brothers and sisters in the Roman church.
Finally, we also pray for those who have been abused and pray that the leaders of the Roman church take the steps to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again. It is never the intention of an independent church to steal members away from the Roman church. We exist as an alternative to those who cannot wait for change that may never happen in their lifetimes. We exist for those who have been shut out by the traditions of the Roman church, or who have felt disenfranchised by them. We, too, are not perfect, but we strive to find perfection in the modeling of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Yours in Christ
Ronald Stephens, Presiding Bishop of CACINA
and the College of Bishops
Copyright © 2018, Catholic Apostolic Church in North America, All rights reserved.
(July 22nd – Feast day of Mary of Magdala)
By Meghan J. Clark – she is an associate professor of theology at St. John’s University in New York. She is author of The Vision of Catholic Social Thought: The Virtue of Solidarity and the Praxis of Human Rights
In February I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The sights and sounds of Galilee were captivating. Sitting on the Sea of Galilee, I closed my eyes and tried to imagine what it must have been like to see Jesus walk on water, to hear him preach or call my name. As we traveled through Capernaum and Nazareth to Bethlehem and Jerusalem, it felt as if we were with those first disciples looking for Jesus and praying to understand. In these places I found myself accompanied by someone I’d long admired: Mary of Magdala.
Readers of Scripture first meet Mary Magdalene during Jesus’ preaching and healing ministry in Galilee as someone healed “from whom seven demons had gone out” (Luke 8:2). Later all the gospels mention her in the litany of women who traveled with Jesus to Jerusalem. All four gospels name her as a witness to both the crucifixion and the empty tomb. In John’s gospel Mary Magdalene is the first person to meet the resurrected Jesus and is thus charged with telling the others. For this she is given the title “Apostle to the Apostles.”
In a world where women were not considered reliable witnesses, it is women upon whom our knowledge of the death and resurrection of Jesus relies. The women of the gospels, especially Magdalene, have long been maligned, minimized, or simply missing from the way we envision Jesus’ followers.
I have spent almost all my life in Catholic education, starting with preschool. In grade school we learned about Mary Magdalene, but even in the last 20 years Catholic school children are still taught long-debunked stereotypes about the women to whom Jesus first appeared. It was not until my freshman year in college that I learned that there is no biblical evidence for labeling Mary Magdalene a prostitute. The gospel message of mercy is unequivocal and there are accounts of prostitutes healed and forgiven by Jesus. But there is no biblical evidence to say Mary of Magdala was one of them. So why the persistent need to sexualize her? In light of the #MeToo movement, is it really that shocking that she’s so quickly reduced to a symbol of sex?
Mary Magdalene has long fascinated believers and secular society. Can men and women truly be friends? Long before When Harry Met Sally . . .believers and nonbelievers alike have struggled with Mary of Magdala and her friendship with Jesus of Nazareth.
Even today, at the excavation site of the first-century synagogue at Magdala, the women of the gospels occupy the small side chapels of the worship center, the central space reserved for Peter. In the very place Mary Magdalene likely heard Jesus preach for the first time, she and the other women witnesses still remain on the periphery.
“Indeed,” says Pope Francis in his new exhortation on holiness, “in times when women tended to be most ignored or overlooked, the Holy Spirit raised up saints whose attractiveness produced new spiritual vigor and important reforms in the church. . . . But I think too of all those unknown or forgotten women who, each in her own way, sustained and transformed families and communities by the power of their witness.” Beginning with Magdalene and continuing through Christian history, women persist, but their contributions are often ignored. As I walked the way of the cross in their footsteps, I prayed in gratitude. Their fidelity and witness continue to teach us what it means to be a pilgrim church called to follow God. Even today, as she walks with us in faith, she persists.
July 22nd – Feast day of Mary of Magdala
The Franciscans of Fort Lauderdale from the Parish of Sts. Francis and Clare attends the Florida Marlins Bark in the Park.
The College of Bishops of the Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA) would like to make clear our position that any attempt to take children and separate them from their parents is grievously wrong. The present situation that exists on our southern border should be immediately stopped and the children returned to their parents. These are not criminals, nor are their parents who have followed the laws and sought asylum.
From both a secular and religious perspective what is presently happening is wrong and damaging to children. Psychology has shown the enormous impact of lack of bonding and attachment on the later life of children. Bruce Perry, PhD and MD (2018) from the Child Trauma Academy states “many researchers and clinicians feel that the maternal-child attachment provides the framework for all subsequent relationships that the child will develop.” Breaking the bond between parent and child is not only cruel when it is forced, but will create many problems later for the child and for society.
From a political point of view it is egregious to use children as pawns to frighten away immigrants or for negotiation purposes so the President can get something he wants from Congress. Children are precious commodities, not bargaining chips.
From a religious standpoint, there could be nothing more abominable than to hurt children by taking them away from their only support and love. Jesus was very clear on his teachings about the value of children and the consequences for hurting them. He said, “Whoever receives this child in My name, receives Me, and whoever receives Me, receives the One who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great” (Lk 9:48). In Matthew, Jesus says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of my father who is in heaven” (18:10) and a few verses later has this severe command, “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish” (8:14). Any time there are attempts to justify the present government’s actions biblically are a misuse of scripture and an abomination of Jesus’ intent. Thus, we the Bishops of CACINA feel that the immigration policies of the United States government are severely unjust, and in particular, the separation of children taking place on our southern border and the negligent treatment of these children. We implore the government to change these policies immediately for the sake of these children who are being so hurt, and the damage not be irreparable.
We urge our own people of CACINA to write their representatives, legislators, Congress and even the president to put the needs of children first, which is what a just society would do. At the same time, the Bishops continue to pray and to join with the many Christian groups across this country who oppose what is happening. We add our voice to theirs.
Most Rev. Ronald Stephens
Catholic Apostolic Church in North America
A LENTEN BLESSING
A FRANCISCAN BENEDICTION
May God bless you with Discomfort. . .
at easy answers, and half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with Anger. . .
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people
so that you may work for justice, freedom. and peace.
May God bless you with Tears. . .
to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness. . .
to believe that you can make a difference in their world, so that you
can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen