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Nigerian bishop laments continuing insecurity since seminarian’s killing a year ago

February 15, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Sokoto, Nigeria, Feb 15, 2021 / 07:19 pm (CNA).- One year after the burial of Michael Nnadi, an 18-year-old Nigerian seminarian abducted and killed by gunmen, the local bishop has indicated his sorrow at the lack of progress in preventing abductions and murders.

“It is quite tragic that one year later, we are still closer to nowhere we hope to be. The harvest of death has gotten richer, more and more people are dying,’ Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto said to journalists following a Feb. 12 memorial Mass.

“Things have gotten progressively worse as far as the lives of our ordinary people are concerned,” Bishop Kukah said in Sokoto’s Holy Family Cathedral.

He added, “It is a matter of great concern and great sadness that we haven’t come anywhere close to securing our people and securing our country.”

Nnadi was taken by gunmen from Good Shepherd Seminary in Kaduna around 10:30 pm on Jan. 8, 2020, along with fellow seminarians Pius Kanwai, 19; Peter Umenukor, 23; and Stephen Amos, 23. The four seminarians were at the beginning of their philosophy studies.
All but Nnadi were released by the end of January, but on Feb. 1, 2020 Bishop Kukah announced that Nnadi had been found dead.

Bishop Kukah described Michael’s death as a “message of renewal” for Africa’s most populous country.

“Amid all this trouble, we as Christians have a message of renewal that this is not where God wants our country to be,” Bishop Kukah said.

He added, “We believe in the supremacy of His will and we also believe that amid all these confusion, death, unnecessary blood-shedding, that He has a message for us, and the message is for us to urgently think about building our country.”

“There is a saying in Christianity that the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity. Our religion has never triumphed because of patronage or government or because of the amounts of kingdoms that we run,” the bishop said.

In honor of the slain seminarian, the bishop’s residence has been renamed Michael Nnadi House.

The bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Kaduna have also approved the construction of a shrine at Good Shepherd Seminary in honor of Nnadi.

“In future,” Bishop Kukah said, “we hope to advance the course for Michael for him to be recognized by the Catholic Church as a martyr.”

According to the bishop, Michael’s course for sainthood should be advanced because “we have never had that kind of experience. That the people who killed him, actually came and testified that they killed Michael because he was preaching to them and telling them that what they were doing was not right.”

Mustapha Mohamed, one of Michael’s killers, said they murdered Nnadi because he “continued to preach the gospel of Christ” to his captors.


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Vandalized statue of Sacred Heart of Jesus returns to Texas cathedral

February 15, 2021 CNA Daily News 3

El Paso, Texas, Feb 15, 2021 / 05:48 pm (CNA).- A west Texas parish has restored a century-old statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus after it was vandalized and nearly destroyed last September. Shock and sadness brought together donors from all over the country who felt compelled to pray a


The Diocese of El Paso issued a statement on Feb. 11 announcing the statue’s return.


“There was an outpouring of grief when the St. Patrick Cathedral Sacred Heart statue was vandalized last fall. Shock and sadness brought together donors from all over the country who felt compelled to pray and to give. Today, the statue is restored and making its way back to St. Patrick Cathedral,” the diocese said.


The statue had been present at the cathedral since shortly after the dedication ceremony took place in 1917. 


In September 2020, a vandal entered the cathedral’s sanctuary and decapitated the statue, which had been placed behind the main altar of the church. A 30-year-old man was charged with criminal mischief for the vandalism.


Mass was not taking place at the time of the vandalism, but the church was open for prayer.


At the time, the diocese expressed doubt that the broken pieces of the statue were possible to restore. 

However, the statue was subsequently sent to Daprato Rigali Studios for repair. The Daprato brothers had made the original statue. 


Elizabeth Rigali, director of art and design for the studio, said it was an honor to repair the statue, according to the diocese. 


As part of the restoration process, the company had to reinforce the head, body, and base of the statue. They also had to sculpt a new hand, arm, and face.


“So many members of the faithful had looked to the Sacred Heart, his arms open wide in welcome, for over 100 years during some of the most joyful and challenging times in their lives, and the thought of its destruction and possible replacement was difficult to accept,” the diocese said. 


The donations have been handled by the diocese’s Catholic Foundation. More than $38,000 was donated to support the statue’s restoration and shipping costs, as well as repair of the altar which was also damaged. Some of the funding will also be used to upgrade the cathedral’s security system.

“[The Catholic Foundation] extends its sincere appreciation to all who contributed in any amount and prayed for the statue’s restoration and safe return, especially the St. Patrick Cathedral community and leadership. Once again, the Diocese of El Paso came together in faith to overcome pain and obstacles from a place of compassion and forgiveness. Plans to welcome the Sacred Heart back home are underway and we’ll share more news when we have it,” the diocese said. 



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Pittsburgh diocese announces mergers for four Catholic schools

February 15, 2021 CNA Daily News 0

Pittsburgh, Pa., Feb 15, 2021 / 04:47 pm (CNA).- Four Catholic elementary schools will merge to form two schools for the school year beginning in fall 2021, the Diocese of Pittsburgh has said, as the local bishop stressed their continued importance.
“Catholic schools are vital to the future of both our Church and our world,” Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh said Feb. 12. “They educate minds, hearts, and spirits, teaching the value of service as they prepare young people to become productive citizens and future leaders.”
“Each day I thank God for all who faithfully support our Catholic schools,” said Zubik. “They serve our students, our diocese, and Jesus himself.”
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary school in Pleasant Hills will merge with Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin in Whitehall. The Saint Gabriel campus will serve as the main site of the merged school.
Saint Phillip school in Crafton will merge with Saint Margaret of Scotland school in Green Tree, whose campus will serve the merged school.
Father David Poecking, president of South Regional Catholic Elementary Schools, said the decision follows “more than a year’s deliberation and many, many hours of study.”
“While change can be difficult, we can bring together the best of the past to support a strong future for the newly merged schools,” Poecking said.
The mergers were recommended after study of financial and demographic data, enrollment trends, and consultation with the parish and school communities.
Zubik approved the merger on the recommendations of the South Regional Catholic Elementary Schools, which became the new regional governing board in July 2020. It had previously served as an advisory board since its creation in 2017.
The Pittsburgh diocese credited the board with stabilizing enrollment and finances. It sees progress in regional organization of some schools.
“With regional governance, all of the parishes in a geographic region support Catholic school education and all have a voice in forwarding the mission of those schools,” the diocese said.
Michelle Peduto, Director of Catholic Schools, said the diocese’s school system will continue to work “to provide families with spiritually vibrant, academically excellent and financially sustainable Catholic schools for generations to come.”
The diocese is continuing a strategic planning initiative begun in 2015 in part as a response to declining Mass attendance, the financial struggles of some parishes, and fewer priests.
The diocese’s “On Mission for The Church Alive” initiative has been working to merge what were 188 parishes into what ultimately will be fewer than 60 parish groupings.
In November 2020, the diocese announced that it would begin a third round of parish mergers. This stage of the parish merging plan aims to reduce 107 parishes to 81.
The diocese faced controversy after the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report, which detailed sexual abuse allegations in six of Pennsylvania’s eight Latin-rite dioceses, including Pittsburgh. In 2020 CBS Pittsburgh reported that since the report’s release, Mass attendance had dropped 9% and offertory donations declined 11%.
Several hundred sexual abuse claims have also posed significant financial difficulties for the diocese.
Even in 2018, regular Sunday Mass attendees numbered only 120,000, a 30% decline from 10 years before. There are about 628,000 Catholics in the diocese’s territory, according to the diocese’s website.