Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer, of the Diocese of San Angelo, second from left, and Monsignor James Bridges, pastor of Midland's St. Stephen's, address pro-life supporters at a praying of the Rosary outside of Planned Parenthood, January 20, 2012.
(Photo by Alan P. Torre / aptorre.com)
Bishop addresses Pro-Life crowd on 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, restates urgency of acting now.
By Jimmy Patterson
MIDLAND -- Using some of his strongest language in recent memory, Bishop Michael D. Pfeifer, of the Diocese of San Angelo, recalled the words of noted early feminists in deriding the horror that is abortion. Bishop Pfeifer made his remarks on the weekend that marks the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion in 1973.
"Alice Paul, one of the original feminists, called abortion 'the ultimate exploitation of women,’ " the bishop said. Paul, along with Susan B. Anthony, were both staunch opponents of abortion, with Anthony referring to the deadly procedure as "child murder."
Increasingly strong in his opposition in recent years on the subject, Bishop Pfeifer used the occasion of the rosary in the three deanery headquarter cities of Midland-Odessa, Abilene and San Angelo, to appeal to Catholics and others for even more action to stop the spread of abortion that has accounted for the taking of more than 56 million lives since it was legalized by the Supreme Court's infamous decision that has changed and divided America.
"I put out many articles and letters to pro-life people in the diocese pleading for you to speak out, to send letters to legislators," Bishop Pfeifer said. "The campaign didn't get much support. What happened? Some of you are very upset with me I know, but I insist that we must take a very proactive stance for the unborn.
"When we pray at mass for something, after we pray to God, who tells us that anything we ask will be granted in the name of Jesus, if we walk out and do nothing about it, God says, 'You fools.' You’ve heard me talk before about God's graces, but we have failed to use God's graces the way we should. I'm not here today to scold but to face facts and to become more involved in the political and legal process. We have to work against evil abortion at every level."
Pfeifer notes that more than 1,000 lives are destroyed at the Midland Planned Parenthood clinic alone every year and called for prayers that government leaders promote laws that promote life. The bishop also ask the assembled to pray for the people who work at the clinic, saying Jesus calls us to love them just as we love others affected by abortion.
Bishop Pfeifer presides over a number of Pro-Life events throughout the diocese. His schedule during the weekend of the Roe v. Wade anniversary took him from Midland to Abilene and San Angelo to celebrate Masses and pray rosaries in remembrance of the unborn.
DAY OF PENANCE. Today is a day of penance and reparation designated by the U.S. Catholic Bishops for the violence committed against the dignity of human persons, especially against the unborn through acts of abortion. Please pray for an end to the massacre which has taken the lives of more than 54 million unborn.
SAN ANGELO -- Sunday, January 22, 2012, marks the 39th anniversary of the deadly Roe V. Wade decision of our Supreme Court, which gave the right to destroy the precious unborn at any stage of development. Bishop Michael Pfeifer, OMI, of the Diocese of San Angelo is asking that on this day all priests pray a Mass for the precious unborn and to beg our God to bring an end to abortion. Bishop Pfeifer encourages all pro-life people of West Texas to become much more involved in promoting the Diocesan Pro-Life Plan for the Unborn.
To remember this deadly decision of the Supreme Court, Bishop Pfeifer will have a special Pro-Life Mass and will be offering prayers in the Diocese of San Angelo, which makes up 29 counties in West Texas. Bishop Pfeifer will lead special prayers in front of the three Planned Parenthood centers in West Texas where abortions are performed. The bishop’s schedule:
FRIDAY, JANUARY 20, at 12:00 noon, Bishop Pfeifer will lead the Rosary in front of Planned Parenthood, at 316 Secor, in MIDLAND. Bishop Pfeifer will give apro-life reflection as the Rosary is prayed. Bishop Pfeifer is inviting all Catholics, especially the Knights of Columbus and people of goodwill to join him in front of this center that does surgical abortions each week.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 21, 2012, at 11:00 a.m., at Sacred Heart Cathedral in SAN ANGELO, Bishop Pfeifer will celebrate the annual Pro-Life Mass. As the date of the decision of the Supreme Court falls on a Sunday, Bishop Pfeifer is offering a special Mass the day before for the unborn. The Bishop encourages all Catholic people and people of goodwill to be present for this special Pro-Life Mass at the Cathedral.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 22, 2012, at 2:30 p.m. Bishop Pfeifer will pray the Rosary in front of Planned Parenthood in ABILENE, located at 3449 North 10th,which does medical abortions. Bishop Pfeifer is inviting all Catholics, especially the Knights of Columbus and people of goodwill of Abilene to join him in front of this center that does medical abortions each week.
MONDAY, JANUARY 23, 2012, at 12:00 noon, Bishop Pfeifer will pray the Rosary and give a pro-life reflection in front of Planned Parenthood in SAN ANGELO located at 2010 Pecos St. Bishop Pfeifer is inviting all Catholics, especially the Knights of Columbus and people of good will to join him in front of this center in San Angelo that does medical abortions each week.
Bishop Pfeifer reminds all Catholics that Monday, January 23, 2012 has been designated as a day of penance and reparation by the U.S. Catholic Bishops for the violence committed against the dignity of human persons, especially against the unborn through acts of abortion, and to pray for an end to the massacre which has taken the lives of more than 54 million unborn.
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More than 35 to be honored in Feb. 20 Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral
SAN ANGELO — Pope Benedict XVI, at the recommendation of the Most Rev. Michael D. Pfeifer, OMI, Bishop of the Diocese of San Angelo, has bestowed special Papal Honors on priests, nuns, deacons and lay people serving in the Diocese and beyond. Bishop Pfeifer received official word from Most Rev. Carlo Maria Vigano, Papal Ambassador to the United States, about these unique awards on Jan. 10, 2012.
These Papal medals and honors will be bestowed on the priests, deacons, women religious and lay people in ceremonies to be held at Sacred Heart Cathedral, located at 19 S. Oakes in San Angelo, Texas on Monday, February 20, 2012 at 7 pm during the celebration of Mass. The public is invited to attend the event, which will be presided over by Bishop Pfeifer.
Pope Benedict XVI has bestowed the highest Pontifical Medal “Pro Ecclesiae et Pontifice” (“For service to the Church and Pope”) on one priest and three women religious who are members of religious orders working in the Diocese of San Angelo, and on deacons and lay people of the diocese and others. The medal is given to those who have served the Church and the Pope many years with loyalty and in an exemplary manner. The honorees include:
Oblate Father Eddie de Leon, OMI, Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Midland.
Sister Mary Grace Erl, O.Carm., Superior of the Carmelite Sisters in Christoval.
Sister Regina Javier, OND,Oblates of Notre Dame Sister serving churches of South Odessa.
Sister Esperanza Razura Villarreal, ASC, of the churches, South Odessa.
Deacon Roy Ibarra and Minnie Ibarra, of St. Mary’s Church, San Angelo.
Deacon Jesse Guajardo , of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Midland.
The following are the lay people receiving the highest Papal honor are:
Dr. Jim and Mrs. Kathy Webster of Holy Family Parish, Abilene.
Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Castillo, of St. Margaret’s Parish, San Angelo
Mr. and Mrs. Ken Burgess of Sacred Heart Cathedral, San Angelo
Margaret Matthiesen of Sacred Heart Cathedral, San Angelo
Louis Fohn, Diocesan Attorney and member of St. Ambrose Church, Wall.
Deborah Michalewicz, a member of St. Therese Parish, Carlsbad, and a Peace
Joy Hoelscher, of Holy Angels Church, San Angelo.
Those receiving the special Papal award of Knights and Dames of the Order of Pope St.
Frank Chappa of Holy Family Church, Mereta
Anne Hermann of Holy Angels, San Angelo
Ernest Blanco of St. Margaret’s, San Angelo
Geraldine Fischer of St.Therese, Carlsbad
Manuel and Maria Elena Molina of St. Ann Church, Colorado City
Teresa Figueroa of Good Shepherd Church, Crane
Emma Kruppa of Sacred Heart Cathedral, San Angelo
Those receiving the special Papal award of Knights and Dames of the Order of St. Gregory the
Eddie and Sylvia Noriega of Sacred Heart Cathedral, San Angelo.
Howard and Penny Pope of Holy Family Church, Abilene.
Doris Helen Block of Sacred Heart Cathedral, San Angelo.
Carol Ann Hunt of St. Ann Church, Midland.
Nelly Diaz of St. Vincent Pallotti Church, Abilene.
Anita Diaz of Holy Redeemer Church, Odessa.
Delia Samaniego of St. Ann Church, Sonora.
Dolores Gully of St. Ambrose Church, Wall.
Others receiving the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award are:
Oblate Father Louie Lougen, OMI, present Superior General of the Missionary Oblates of
Tom and Gayle Benson of New Orleans, La., and San Antonio.
Bishop Pfeifer nominated all of the recipients for the honors. In his letter of nomination, he asked the Holy Father to bestow the papal medal on the religious order priests, women religious, deacons and lay people for their many years of dedicated service to the Diocese of San Angelo.
Bishop Pfeifer requested the high Papal honors for Very Rev. Louie Lougen, OMI, for his long and outstanding missionary service with the Oblates in Brazil and his great leadership as Provincial of the Oblate community of the USA and now as Superior General in Rome.
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Benson of the New Orleans Saints have been long time friends and great generous benefactors of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, especially in San Antonio, Texas, for more than 50 years.
Bishop Pfeifer points out that he requested the highest Papal honors of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice for all honorees, but the Vatican limits it to a certain number of people and then bestows other Papal honors.
Bullying is a fixable societal problem. And yet we seem uncomfortable when talking about it. If we talk about it. I’m not sure if it has been determined how many of the recent teen suicides in Midland came by kids who were relentlessly picked on, poked at and made fun of by other children who inflate their self-worth and perceive themselves as some sort of higher being than the victim, often someone who can be, but is not always, smaller, meeker, milder and not as brash or outspoken as the bully.
This is a story about a 9-year-old kid who was bullied. Save for his parents’ response, nothing was ever done about it. Fortunately, the boy never entertained thoughts of suicide. But that doesn’t mean the incident just magically went away.
It was the summer of 1969 and the kid had been baptized in his church a month or so earlier and so he was, in today’s parlance, on fire. So, he decided to be brave and venture out from the walls and protection of his mom and dad, something he had never before done. He and his parents had been many places together, near and far, and so the kid had always felt comfortable in their company.
When he finally relented and agreed to attend summer camp, he did so with sweat on his palms and a knot in his throat. But he went anyway, and that was a big step. The kid will never forget the first night of his church-sponsored camp. After spending most of the afternoon alone (he was a shy kid, see), he had dinner with the other campers and at the end of the night the born-again 9-year-old with a newfound sense of boldness and adventure returned to his bunkhouse with the others.
But that first night’s experience was different for him than it was for the other campers because the kid was a rookie.
Some call what happened initiation. Others think of it as hazing. To me, it was bullying. The kid was tossed into the bunkhouse unawares and told to run down the middle aisle. On either side of the aisle were the bunks, upper and lower, of the 30 or so other campers who were there for a week of fun and games and praise and worship.
So the kid ran down the middle aisle like he was told. And as he did, he was struck repeatedly with belts. He was hit on the torso, the chest and in the backside more times than he cared to remember. The only thing that exceeded the pain of being struck was the humiliation that came with it. In fact, that stung a lot worse and a lot longer than the belt marks.
At the end of the “beltline,” as it was fondly called by his aggressors, were a couple of bigger kids waiting in the bathroom. By this time, the kid was crying. And when he got to the bathroom, the two bigger kids took the new kid, lifted him up and buried his head in a toilet filled with urine.
The bigger kids had a good laugh about the fun time they’d just had. For the rookie, the few moments in the aftermath disappeared from his memory; maybe because it was just too embarrassing to have to walk back through the beltline after the fun and festivities were over, knowing that he was on his way to the camp office, humiliated and embarrassed enough to call home and say, ‘Please come get me.’
“Why?” the kid’s mom and dad would ask during the new kid's call for help. And so he told them, and two hours later the kid's parents had made the trip from their Dallas area home and picked up their urine soaked, beltlicked, born-again son.
The parents, like the good parents they were, informed the camp and the officials at the church, and everyone prayed that the incident would be forgotten and forgiven after the offenders were duly tongue-lashed and finger-scolded.
But the after-effects of the incident never really subsided. The kid was never embraced by the group of kids his own age in the church, most particularly by those who swung at him and filled the toilet bowl with their surprise at the end of his long run through the bunkhouse.
The kid was scorned and never part of the “in crowd,” and he often found himself sitting alone in church or with his parents while the other kids his age bonded together in their own pew. He would, in fact, spend nine more years at the church as he waited for his 18th birthday, but God never really seemed to be there with him. Not sitting next to him, at least.
That kid was me.
The incident happened in the Summer of 1969, several weeks after I was baptized in the church in which my parents raised me. It’s been 42 years since it happened, and although the pain is most certainly gone now, the memories of what happened are not.
Did it change my life? Yes it did. After being shunned by others my age for the remainder of the time I attended that church, it turned me off entirely to that way of practicing the faith, although I hold that particular church in no way responsible.
Six years after I last set foot in the church, I met my wife and would warmly embrace — and would be warmly embraced by — the comfort and serenity of my current Church. I was one of the lucky ones, finding a faith that I could call my own after a bad experience in another one. It took awhile, but I can honestly say those who did what they did quite literally never spoke to me again. But pain gave way to new faith, and what has been a wonderful life.
Not all stories turn out this way. If you know someone who is being bullied, encourage them to step forward and talk about it. When they do, remember, that’s when your job as a supporter of that bullying victim is only beginning. A person being bullied needs someone with them just as much as they struggle through the pain and scorn that will inevitably follow.
Pray for people who are the victims of bullying. And be with them. The scars can last a lifetime, and those who bear them need to be guided through their ordeal so that they will outlive the most painful of the memories.
I don’t know how many teen suicides are ultimately brought on by bullying. I would expect that it would be a significant number. Even if it’s one, it’s too many.
The loss of a loved one to suicide is one of the greatest tragedies life can bring. We often react with shock, guilt, anger, and depression. Family members often feel profound guilt and responsibility. Our reaction is why, why, why did this happen? What could we have done better? What did we fail to see? Suicide of a son or daughter can feel like the ultimate failure of parenting.
When someone dies of suicide, the shock and confusion it causes has a severity all its own. Dying by one’s own hands has different implications than dying of natural causes and the grief that follows a suicide is one of the most traumatic experiences in life. The survivors may blame either their loved one or themselves.
It is difficult to know what really went on in the mind and heart of a person before suicide. To generalize is not helpful because each suicide is individual. Some who committed suicide may simply have felt trapped, perceiving themselves as victims in a hopeless situation. They saw death as a way out of unbearable pain.
Amidst grave suffering, there will always be a tendency to want to know why such tragedies occur. If there were a suicide note, it might shed some light on the motives. If the person had a troubled past or had been receiving mental health services, questions about the appropriateness of the medication and the quality of the services may become obsessive. INFLUENCE OF MENTAL DISORDERS
Veterans’ suicides account for a fifth of the some 33,000 suicides each year due to the war conflicts they have experienced and the number is increasing. Everyday, roughly 85 people in the United States take their own lives. Mental illness and suicide among youth are serious problems in the United State. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), half of all cases of mental illness begin by age fourteen. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states that suicide is the third leading cause of death for fifteen- to twenty-four-year-olds.
Recent studies show that more than 95 percent of young people who took their own lives had been diagnosed with a mental disorder. Severe depression is the most prevalent of these disorders. Other psychological diagnoses that increase the risk of suicide among teens include bi-polar disorder and addiction to alcohol and/or drugs.
Often, other contributing or precipitating factors are physical illness along with mental illness, disintegrating family relationships, a sense of not belonging, bullying, personal or economic failures, grief over the loss of a loved one, overwhelming social pressures. These conditions often cause people, especially the young, distress, irritability, agitation, hopelessness, and feelings of worthlessness. One just does not wake up one day and want to die. There are events in life that make some people more vulnerable to suicide.
Given the strong correlation between psychological conditions and suicide, it is important to recognize the early symptoms in order to seek professional help that could make a significant impact.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry lists the following warning signs for parents concerning the risk for suicide in adolescents:·
Change in eating and sleeping habits·
Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities·
Violent actions towards self and others·
Rebellious behavior or running away·
Drug and alcohol use·
Unusual neglect of personal appearance·
Marked personality change·
Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of schoolwork·
Frequent complaints about physical symptoms such as stomachaches, headaches, or fatigue, often related to emotions·
Loss of interest in pleasurable activities·
Not tolerating praise or rewards·
Complaining of being a bad person or feeling rotten inside·
Giving verbal hints with statements such as “Nothing matters. It’s no use” or “I won’t see you again”
It is important to note that most teenagers who killed themselves had been in treatment for these psychological conditions. Even for families who have lived with mental illness, the actual death still comes as a profound shock. WHAT PARENTS AND OTHERS CAN DO
When the above signs are observed, parents or other family members should talk to their children or family members and seek help from their priests, religious, counselors and other trusted professionals to assist their children or any person showing the above signs. Community hotlines offering access to concerned counselors can thwart suicidal plans because caring undermines intent. This is also a time for more prayer and encouraging those who feel hopeless to trust in God’s mercy and love, and to receive Jesus often in the Eucharist.
One thinking of suicide needs a person of trust with whom to share. Remind those thinking of suicide to especially entrust themselves to Jesus who loves them and will guide them as a Good Shepherd, and who invites us to come to Him with our burdens and sorrow to receive grace, strength and comfort, and that they have a caring mother in Mary. Parents who see danger signs should not be afraid to ask, “Are you thinking of suicide?” Most teens tell another young person that they are considering suicide, but often that young person does not know what to do with that information. It is important that teens know how to reach adults, and that adults know where to get help. All need to be aware that sadly there are many websites that encourage and describe ways to commit suicide. To counteract this diabolical information, there is a need to stress the sacredness of each human life and that only God is the Master of each and every human being.CULPABILITY
The question of eternal damnation is another source of pain for family members, especially for parents of children who have killed themselves. The Catechism of the Catholic Church
(no. 2282) states that grave psychological disorders may diminish the responsibility of the one who has committed suicide. People, especially the young, plagued with serious psychological diagnoses make impulsive decisions, clouded by feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and despair. They lack the ability to clearly and objectively appraise their life crisis. Their intellects are clouded, their emotions are in chaos, and their wills are weakened. For all those who are wondering whether their loved one is happy or suffering punishment, Jesus’ prayer of mercy and forgiveness from the cross is an invitation to trust in the Lord. He knows the deepest recesses of each of us, and his love and mercy are greater than anyone can every know or understand.
Today, suicide is not seen exclusively as a moral problem but also as a mental social, health problem. Many experts in the field of mental health and pastoral care believe that most suicides are irrational. Those who take their lives are so emotionally disturbed that they act compulsively, or their perception of reality is so distorted by their anguish that their freedom of choice is greatly restricted. Therefore, although the act of suicide is objectively wrong, the individual circumstances may make it subjectively guiltless. COMPASSION AND DECIDE TO LIVE
The Church teaches compassion and mercy towards those who take their own lives and calls us to reach out with love, comfort and service to their family members and friends. No matter the tragic mistakes, no one has the right to condemn these individuals who take their own lives. More importantly, judgment should be left to God. As our faith teaches us, one of God’s attributes is his mercy, so strongly reflected in Jesus’ ministry.
Eventually, our faith helps us to let go of the why
and to look for the who
. There is Someone who can heal us from the wrenching pain of having lost a loved one, especially a child: Jesus. Every family who has lost a family member is free to make the choice to trust in God’s merciful love and to allow his grace to heal their deep wound. May each, supported by the Church and wider community, have the faith to trust in our Heavenly Father!
For the survivors of suicide victims, memories intensify rather than lessen the pain. Somehow suicide robs them of pleasant memories of the deceased: There were no good-byes and no chance to say, “I am sorry.” Perhaps the most common response to death through suicide is a feeling of guilt. The survivors are obsessed with thoughts about their personal role in precipitating the event. They blame themselves and search for evidence of their failures and omissions.
One of the most agonizing effects of suicide is the sense of disgrace or social embarrassment the survivors experience. Remember mental illness can affect anyone. Suicide can happen to anyone, even in the “best of families” and to the “best of people.”
Survivors, especially parents, must learn to let go of the past, putting it all in the hands of our merciful Savior Jesus Christ, and entrusting their lives and their lost ones to the care of Mary our Mother. They must decide to live. Survivors with the help of trusted friends and professionals must work to come to the awareness that they cannot blame their loved one for their own sadness and unhappiness forever. They need to make a decision to live. They need to discuss their feelings of sorrow and confusion with priests, religious, professionals and other caring people. Survivors, go frequently to Mass to receive in Communion the most merciful person, Jesus Christ, and place your sorrow and pain on the altar united to the sufferings of Christ who died for us and will lead us to the new life in His Resurrection. Survivors, join prayer groups and grief groups made up of people suffering similar tragedies.
Once the survivors begin to take care of themselves, to reaffirm their own goodness, they find their way back to hope. Their faith provides the strength to go on living, and friends provide the comfort to go on loving. They do not forget their sorrow or their loved ones, but slowly new
experiences and more happy memories emerge to heal the hurt. Survivors especially need to receive often the sacrament of God’s mercy, reconciliation, and at each mass hand over all to Jesus. ~Some of the material was taken from St. Anthony Messenger Press and was reprinted with permission. www.americancatholic.org, 800-488-0488 ©1984. All rights reserved. ~Some information taken also from USCCB folder “Losing a Child to Suicide.”
By Bishop Michael Pfeifer, OMI
A word from Most Rev. Michael D. Pfeifer, OMI, Bishop of San Angelo:
The Catholic Charitable Foundation of San Angelo has permanent endowments of almost $700,000 and is managing approximately $2,000,000 of non-endowed funds. As Bishop, I am very grateful to the generous benefactors who contributed to establish this Foundation, providing valuable support for our ministries and I
encourage people to generously give to it as we are investing into the future of helping to ensure our on-going efforts to build up the Kingdom of God through programs of ministry and service for God's people.
If you wish to donate on-line or read more about our Foundation, please visit Catholic Foundation San Angelo,
or visit our information site here at the Diocese of San Angelo by clicking here
THE CATHOLIC CHARITABLE FOUNDATION OF SAN ANGELO
During this Week of Prayer, special prayers will be offered in all the Catholic Churches of the Diocese that make up the 29 counties of West Texas. Bishop Pfeifer encourages all of us to reach out to other religious leaders and invite them to pray together for this unity that we all want for the Body of Christ.
Bishop Michael Pfeifer, OMI, reminds all Christians that on January 18, 2012, we begin the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which ends on Wednesday, January 25, 2012—the Feast of the Conversion of the great Apostle, St. Paul. Bishop Pfeifer encourages all Christians of all churches in the local area and throughout West Texas to have prayer services, inviting all Christians to pray for the Christian unity which Christ so wants for all members of the Body of Christ.
SAN ANTONIO—Catholic laymen and women pursuing a graduate degree in theology or religious studies in order to serve their church in a professional capacity must submit applications for the Rev. Msgr. Larry J. Droll Scholarship by Feb. 15, 2012.
The renewable $2,000 scholarship will be awarded to two candidates in need of tuition assistance for additional education who serve or want to serve his or her parish as an Administrator, Youth Minister, Parish Coordinator or other role.
The scholarship is geared to those who have already obtained their bachelor’s degree and who are either enrolled or wanting to enroll at any Catholic graduate school in Texas, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma or Mississippi. Applicants may also be enrolled in an extension program or in the Catholic University of America School of Canon Law.
Applications can be obtained at www.cliu.com, by contacting the Communications Department at 800-292-2548 or by writing Catholic Life Insurance, Attn: Communications Department, P.O. Box 659527, San Antonio 78265.
Catholic Life Insurance also offers IRAs and retirement annuities to individuals and businesses in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Mississippi.