The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Saints in the News

A round-up of a number of recent stories about commemorations, visits, beatifications, relics, and causes.

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan pays his respects Feb. 11, 2020, at the place where the remains of revered Cuban-born Father Felix Varela are interred in a great room at the University of Havana in Cuba. Father Varela, who was born in Cuba but carried out his ministry in New York, is a candidate for sainthood. In 2012 the Vatican declared the priest "Venerable," recognizing his heroic virtues. (CNS photo/Father Stephen Ries)

Sri Lankan Servant of God Remembered

GONAWILA – AsiaNews.it reports that Sri Lankan Catholics recently remembered the Servant of God Helena of Gonawila in a special way when they commemorated the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of her receiving the stigmata and the eighty-ninth anniversary of her passing.

Sister Helena” (1849-1931) was a consecrated laywoman who spent “her entire life [in] prayer, meditation and service to the local Church.”

The new service relates that she asked Christ for the stigmata so that her suffering, so uniquely joined to that of Our Lord, would obtain the redemption of her Buddhist father and brother, who were “dedicated to satanic activities.”

Several potential miracles have already been reported through her intercession.

Cardinal Visits Venerable’s Tomb

HAVANA – During a recent trip to the Cuban capital of Havana, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, made a visit to that city’s university. There he venerated the remains of the Cuban-born Venerable Fr. Felix Varela, who conducted his ministry in New York.

Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros, who serves as vice postulator of Varela’s cause, accompanied His Eminence and told reporters, “He was a great thinker, but he was a man who would take the shirt off his back for others.”

Holy Father Issues Decrees

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis recently approved the beatification for two sets of martyrs.

  • Servants of God Benet Domènech Bonet from Santa Coloma De Gramenet (born Josep Domènech Bonet) and 2 companions of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. They were killed in hatred of the faith (in odium fidei), in Spain, between July 24 and August 6, 1936, during the Spanish Civil War.
  • Servants of God Fr. José María Gran Cirera and 2 companions, professed priests of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and 7 lay persons. They were killed in hatred of the faith in Guatemala between 1980 and 1991.

He also issued decrees of heroic virtue for six Servants of God, including Fr. José Antonio Plancarte y Labastida, diocesan priest and founder of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Guadalupe. He was born in Mexico City (Mexico) on December 23, 1840, and died in Mexico City (Mexico) on April 26, 1898.

Fr. Plancarte and the five others will now be called Venerable Servants of God or simply Venerable.

Newman Relic Stolen

BIRMINGHAM (England) – What is possibly the world’s only bone relic of St. John Henry Newman has been stolen from the Birmingham Oratory. The Catholic Herald first reported the robbery on February 8.

As reported by Catholic News Agency, “Due to accelerated decomposition in the Birmingham graveyard where Newman was buried, and the nearly 120 years between his death and disinterment, very few relics were recovered from the site.”

“The oratory cemetery is extremely damp, on the side of the Lickey hills and with a stream running through it,” said Peter Jennings of the Archdiocese of Birmingham in 2008. “The undertakers hadn’t been digging for long when they warned us that we’d be lucky to find any recognizable remains at all.”

Newman was already famous in the Anglican Church during the 19th century when he came into the Catholic Church. He is one of his era’s best-known theologians and poets, and his books Apologia Pro Vita Sua and An Essay On Development Of Christian Doctrine are still considered masterpieces of contemporary apologetics. Already an Anglican priest at the time of his 1845 conversion, he received holy orders in 1847. Pope Leo XIII created him cardinal in 1879. He died in 1890.

Cause of Indian Founder Opened

KOCHI – The Syro-Malabar Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly has opened the beatification process of Fr. Varkey Kattarath, founder of the Vincentian Congregation.

The February 5 ceremony that took place at the Congregation’s headquarters in Kochi. In attendance was George Cardinal Alencherry, the head of the Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.

At the behest of his bishop, Fr. Kattarath modeled his order on the St. Vincent de Paul’s Congregation of the Mission. UCA News reports the “congregation has 87 houses in India and 11 countries overseas including Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. In India, it works in 33 dioceses in 11 of India’s 29 states, engaged in education, social and pastoral work.”

According to CNA, “it has two bishops, 555 priests, and 184 professed seminarians.”

Papua New Guinean Cause Promoted

WITHEREN – A chapel has been opened at a Marian shrine in Queensland, Australia, in an effort to help promote the canonization cause of Bl. Peter To Rot (1912-1945).

The chapel at Marian Valley Shrine of Our Lady Help of Christians features a carved wooden statue of the Papua New Guinea native who was martyred by the Japanese during World War II. It is the first place of worship under his patronage outside his native country.

The effort was led by chaplain to the Papua New Guinean community in Australia, Fr. Paul Sireh, who told the Catholic Leader that “the more we promote him, the more people will have a devotion to him.”

Possible Beatification Cause Discussed in Rome

ROME – During his recent ad limina visit to the Holy See, Diocese of Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva met with Congregation for the Causes of Saints official Msgr. Robert Sarno to discuss the possible beatification cause of Br. Joseph Dutton of Molokai.

Born Ira Dutton in Vermont and college educated in Wisconsin, he joined the Union army during the Civil War, serving as a lieutenant. In 1883, following a battle with alcoholism and a divorce from an unfaithful wife, he converted to Catholicism and spent 20 months at the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemane near Bardstown, Ky.

From there, he travelled to Molokai to assist the dying St. Damien de Veuster in his ministry to lepers. Dutton remained there the rest of his life.

He died in Honolulu in 1931. Those promoting his potential cause have opened the Joseph Dutton Guild.


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About BK O'Neel 21 Articles
BK O’Neel writes from Pennsylvania.

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