This saintly 18+ year old young man Zachary, needs all our prayers and support; so her exceptionally caring and loving mother, Cindy. As of July 2006 he has had no less than 23 surgical procedures. Indeed "A Living Victim", a co-victim with Christ Jesus. He has come to understand he does, like St Paul, fill up in his little body what is wanting in the Passion of Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church. Zachary joyfully suffers with perfect resignation. In his pains Zachary lets his smile and giggles console and edify you, as you visit to console him. What an exemplary victim!!!
It was the 1st Saturday of May, 2006; an unforgetable day in the life of young and precious kid, Juliana Rose Pettis. She marched in, sang and rolled into her seat with other angelic kids her age to welcome Christ into her pure and innocent heart. What a day!!! The proud parents, Jody and Mary and her senior brother, Jonathan were there to grace the occasion. Good enough, Jonathan was one of the Altar Boys that day. Incidentally though, the Big Kids, Joshua and Carissa could not be there physically. They were with us spiritually and rejoiced with their baby sister as she said her warm welcome to the Love of her life, Jesus Christ, Who gave us His Body and Blood to be our food for our spiritual nourishment. We thank God for this initial encounter with this special child, Juliana. May God keep this favour ever warm and everlasting. Juliana Rose, my Queen, we are proud you went through your preparation for this day, bravely and with childlike resignation to God. We are all happy for you. You know too well I could not miss that ecstatic day in your life. Ciao and remain ever blessed.
Italian police gave me poisonous substances— Nigerian businessman Thursday, June 8, 2006 Samuel Franklin Anene has been reduced to a shadow of himself for the past five years. He told Okey Ndiribe that his tribulations began when he was wrongfully arrested and imprisoned during his trip to Italy in 1997 . WHEN Samuel Franklin Anene,a Nigerian businessman went on a business trip to Italy nine years ago, he never bargained that his life would nearly be wrecked by the Italian police over a frivolous allegation. He did not know he would be illegally imprisoned and tortured by the Italian security operatives. Anene, who is also a citizen of Venezuela by birth said that he was arrested as a suspected associate of drug traffickers in 1997. Narrating his ordeal to Vanguard Features (VF), Anene who hails from Eziowelle in Anambra State said he was released in 2001, four years after his arrest when it was discovered that he was innocent. Said he: “ I was jailed in Le-Veheate Prison in Turin, where the police tortured me severely. They also drugged every food I ate. I fainted on several occasions”. Anene said that he was later transferred to Pizza Dansoria prison in Alexandra, adding that it was in the prison that luck smiled on him when the Catholic Cardinal of Alexandra visited him. He said he was bleeding through his nose and ears when the Cardinal visited him. The cardinal had been alerted about his condition by a concerned female prison official. Anene said he told the Italian Cardinal that Nigeian born Cardinal Francis Arinze who is based at the Vatican and his father were from the same village and that he was innocent of the charges levelled against him. Anene said the police had lied to the Italian Cardinal by claiming that Anene was being investigated for mafia activities, but the Cardinal ensured that he was taken to court. Anene was set free at the court for want of evidence. Recounting how his ordeal began, Anene told VF that he travelled from Brazil to Italy in 1997 to buy shoes and leather products adding that when he arrived in Cassele Airport in Turin, he was rounded up by 14 plain clothes policemen who demanded for his passport. He said, he handed over his Venezuelan international passport with which he had travelled since he was born in Venezuela and therefore had dual citizenship . Anene further stated the policemen went ahead and searched his brief case but found nothing, adding that he was then taken into one of the rooms at the airport for x-ray. When the x-ray result came out it was negative. But unknown to him, his ordeal had just started. Not satisfied with the result of the first test they subjected Anene to, he was made to go through more scrutiny. The next stage was that some liquids were mixed with coke and he was forced to drink it. Said he: “Immediately I drank it, I began to lose consciousness and at the same time felt like going to the toilet. By that time I couldn’t walk. Some people carried me to a place where I defecated”. Again, nothing was found on him. Still not satisfied, the men drew out their guns and told Anene that they were from the Italian police and demanded that he should tell them what he knew about drug business. “They said I should tell them what I knew about Nigerian drug dealers in Brazil and Colombia. They said they had information that some people were using me to traffick in drugs because of my Venezuelan citizenship,” he said. “ After the interrogation, I told them I wanted to carry my briefcase but they refused. They locked me up in a room and went away. Later when they came back, they told me that they saw 167 grammes of cocaine in my briefcase. I told them they had lied because they searched my briefcase in my presence and found nothing. The next thing I knew was that they locked me up in prison”. He said, when he demanded to be charged to court the Italian police only responded by transferring him from one prison to another in Alexandria. The charge levelled against him by the police was dangerous association with international drug traffickers. Anene should have been jailed for 21 years if he was found guilty by an Italian court. He said the policemen threatened that they had the right to detain him for up to five years while investigating the allegations levelled against him. He alleged that after he was arrested and nothing incriminating was found on him, the Italian poilce went ahead to cook up evidence to back the drug charges against him adding that they claimed that some quantity of cocaine was found in his brief case the day he was arrested. But he denied the allegation and demanded that they produce the video recording of his arrest at the airport as that should have provided the authentic evidence to support whatever charges levelled against him. But the Italian police authorities rejected this suggestion. He said he spent two years in prison where more chemicals were applied on him. During the period of his unlawful detention, he was extensively and severely tortured and dehumanised. He further said that various poisonous chemicals and substances were injected into his body and nostrils by the Italian policemen in their desperate bid to force him to confess to what he knew nothing about. He further alleged that some of the poison that was administered on him was put in his food and water adding that the gas that was pumped into his cell during winter was also toxic. Said he: “ I always felt weak after inhaling this gas”. He said he was convinced his food and water was always poisoned because he was usually served separately from the other prisoners. He said, he initially rejected the poisoned food rations and water that was served to him but was later forced to eat them to avoid being starved to death. He said the first symptom he noticed due to the poisoned food, water and gas he had been subjected to was that blisters began to appear in his mouth. Said he: “ The first symptom I noticed was when my mouth began to tear. The second was that my hair began to turn to grey.” According to him, since his release, he had been suffering from various forms of intractable illnesses which had defied medical solution in Nigeria. “When I returned to Nigeria, I went to Yaba Psychiatric Hospital for treatment as the chemicals the police used in poisoning me had started having effects”. At the hospital doctors were at a loss on how to handle his case and asked him to get the name of the chemicals used by the Italian police to poison him. He said the doctors told him that the only way his case could be handled was for him to contact the Italian Government through its Embassy in Nigeria so that the names of the chemicals used in poisoning him could be released to enable the doctors diagnose his ailment or send him to Italy for treatment. Anene said, he did not initially feel the impact of the poison on him. Said he: “ When I was still being held in the Italian prison, I did not feel the impact of these poisonous substances that were injected into me. But it became worse when I returned to Nigeria. However, I thought that with time these poisonous substances would fizzle out of my blood circulation”. Anene further claimed that his efforts to persuade the Italian Embassy in Nigeria to look into his plight has proved abortive. Indeed, he accused the Italian Embassy of playing games with his life. ‘They have been playing with my life.” He continued: “I have gone to their embassy and they kept telling me to come today, come tomorrow. My health is deteriorating. I can no longer live a normal life as I have lost both mental and physical stability,” he said. Anene said he had planned to go to the Embassy two years ago to begin a hunger strike but was advised to follow due process. He said he wrote through his lawyer Peter Ozobialu to notify the embassy of his intention to begin a hunger strike by April 26, 2004 but the Italian Embassy, adding that copies of the letter were made available to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Inspector General of Police and some media houses. The embassy later replied Anene’s lawyer Mr Peter Ozobialu in the following words: “With reference to your letter in which you brought our attention to the case of your client, Mr Anene , we would like to inform you that this Consulate General has reported the delicate matter to the competent Italian authorities.” The reply was signed by one Dot Alder Zonari. After Anene’s lawyer received the reply, he waited for two months and wrote a reminder two months later. When VF called at the Italian Embassy in Lagos, the security men at the gate said there was no competent official to comment on the matter.
Vicar Review, Edition 18: Woven Fidelity In 1989, a week after my confirmation, I received an unexpected letter from my Bishop. Little did I realize that this letter contained a seed that would fall deep into my heart and that would slowly but steadily begin to grow. Seventeen years later, on June 3rd, 2006, that seed finally blossomed as I was ordained a deacon in Rome. *(The author is in this photo; he is in clergy suit, to the left of Fr Onyeabor. He gave us a tour of the Vatican museum, Dec. 2005) Yet seventeen years ago, the priesthood was the farthest thing from my mind… until that letter. Bishop James Griffin wrote me a personal letter asking me to think about the priesthood. Startled, I wondered why on earth he would have done such a thing. “Me? A priest? Impossible! I am going to be a famous artist and besides, I like girls. He must be mistaken. It’s obvious that I am not called to be a priest.” At the same time, however, I could not deny a hidden attraction to this calling. I loved my faith. I love helping people come closer to Christ. The priesthood would be a life full of joy. “No! What am I thinking? I have too much talent to toss aside if I become a priest!” In the letter, Bishop Griffin kindly invited me to a dinner at his rectory. I had never even been to the cathedral, let alone inside the Bishop’s rectory. Deep inside my heart of hearts, a tiny whisper piped up and said, “Go!” but then the storms of fear roared over the little voice and assured me that this was an absurd investment of my time for someone who is obviously not called to the priesthood. “But if I am not called, why am I so scared just to go to dinner?” In the end, I was conquered by my fear and I wrote a reply thanking the Bishop for his invitation but declining. How foolish I was! Perhaps years of running away from my vocation could have been avoided if I would have had just a kernel of courage in that moment. Regardless, I ran. The voice of that letter, however, would endure. Six years I ran from the echo of that letter. The thought would never leave me, though I was really good at distracting myself with lots of fun. When the passions of youth would subside and a moment of silence and recollection would rise up, the idea of the priesthood would echo. I could not escape our Lord’s persistence. During the Easter Vigil Mass of 1995, I finally had the courage that I lacked six years prior. I resolved to give Christ a chance despite the fact that my art career was taking off and I had the girl of my dreams who wanted to marry me. I gave God a tiny window of opportunity to speak and he took it. When I opened my door, Christ burst it and stole away with my heart. Eleven years later, last June 3rd, I would be ordained a deacon in Rome at St Paul’s-outside-the-walls the day before Pentecost. Life as a deacon and future priest of Jesus Christ is the greatest gift I could ever imagine. The joy our Lord grants to his priests and deacons is a slice of heaven upon earth. How much I love the priesthood and how I want to proclaim God’s love to the nations! I have no regrets about my decision and would never change my life for anything. My boats are burned and my heart is branded. My life is Christ. Nothing else will due. On this joyful occasion, gratitude overwhelms my heart. First to my best friend Jesus Christ whose infinite patience and mercy is my constant support and solace. Yet equally so I thank Bishop Griffin. He planted the seed of who I am today. The echo of his shepherd’s voice drew me little by little to the arms of Christ. With heartfelt sincerity, I thank you Bishop Griffin for your time, attention and prayers, despite my fear and running. You have led me to the greatest treasure of time and eternity. How can I ever thank you sufficiently? But how was it the Bishop knew about my vocation? This answer deserves my gratitude as well. The careful eye of my teachers, many of whom were Franciscan Sisters, were the ones who detected my calling even before I could fathom the idea. Being totally dedicated to God’s service, they could spot the signs of a young man called to the same complete gift of self to the Church. Thank you dear Sisters for your fidelity and example. I hope that my life as a priest will radiate the same joy and dedication that I always saw in you. And finally, I thank all my family and friends, both my immediate family and my family of Regnum Christi. I could write volumes declaring the wonders God has worked in my life through each of you. Our Lord has chosen that our lives would touch and that together, through our prayers for each other, we would all persevere in our calling. In a real way, Christ has woven our vocations together; our lives form the threads of a single tapestry. After eleven years of priestly formation, I know that I have remained faithful not due to my own strength, but to yours –your prayers, your love, your support. Your fidelity has been my fidelity. Truly you are a living part of my deaconate ordination. My gratitude to all of you will spill over into eternity. Now, as a deacon, I look back upon my life and see how the finger of God has brought all these threads together to weave, strand by strand, this marvelous vocation. In 1989, the letter from my bishop, just days after receiving the Holy Spirit in confirmation, was the first strand. In 2006, the day before the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the strands came together in a decisive phase. The tapestry is not yet complete –I still have priestly ordination and the rest of my life to continue weaving the great plan of God. Who knows what wonders lie ahead? What precious threads will Christ introduce? All I know is that I trust the skillful hands of the most excellent artist, the King of kings and Lord of lords, my greatest friend and love, Jesus Christ. Blessed be God forever.
A "Da Vinci" Nudge to BelieversMeeting at Angelicum Reflects on Fiction-Reality Tie ROME, MAY 18, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A symposium held at a pontifical university called the movie "The Da Vinci Code" a "sign of the times" which challenges all believers to demonstrate their faith.The symposium at the University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum, was held Wednesday, the day in which the film was presented in at the Cannes Film Festival, in France.The "sign of the times" conclusion was voiced by Dominican Father Bruno Esposito, vice rector of the university, at the meeting on "The Da Vinci Code: Reflection on the Fiction-Reality Relationship."In the debate held at the school, Father Esposito, who is also a professor of canon law, said that "man is not against God but against a mistaken idea of God," and that is why it is necessary to address a phenomenon such as "The Da Vinci Code."Such an engagement, he said, is "not in a spirit of defense or confrontation but as an examination of conscience by believers, who must be committed to a new evangelization."Benedetto Ippolito, a professor of the history of medieval philosophy at the "Roma Tre" university, explained the success of Dan Brown's novel in a cultural context dominated by "conspiracies and mysteries."It is "a scene in which God is absent, in which God is not necessarily denied but lived in another dimension," said the scholar.High priceIppolito, who is also a professor at the University of the Holy Cross, explained that today there is a tendency to "consider Christian truth as a theory or even an invention."This vision implies paying a high price, he said. "The loss of the sense of truth implies the loss of the sense of freedom."On addressing the meeting, Joan-Andreu Rocha Scarpetta, a professor at the Regina Apostolorum university, said that "Dan Brown's work is a cultural thermometer that leads to reflection on contemporary religiosity."In particular, Rocha acknowledged that the novel might cause confusion in people who do not have "the tools of discernment necessary to understand what is behind it."Rocha, who directs Regina Apostolorum's master's program on "Church, Ecumenism and Religions," noted that the books of the New Age current are so successful because they emphasize "believing" without "belonging" and "they present reality as false and truth as esoteric and critical of institutions."Bernardo Estrada, a biblicist from the University of the Holy Cross, defined the Gnosticism of a certain apocryphal gospel of the second century -- which Brown makes ample use of in his novel -- as "the greatest threat Christianity had" because this philosophical-religious current professed the rejection of Christ's death on the cross and resurrection.SignsEstrada assailed the novel's gross distortion of the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene."It was a relationship in spiritual harmony," he said. "More than that, Jesus made an exceptional gift to Magdalene, the only one charged with announcing the risen Jesus, even before Peter."Father Esposito, the vice rector, concluded by appealing to believers to "give signs … against the relativism and voids that humanity demonstrates.""The challenge," he said, "is directed to us, ourselves, not to those who sell these books and films." ZE06051805 This article was culled from the Zenit Catholic News org.
Holy See to Press for Christians' Rights in Muslim LandsArchbishop Lajolo Urges Reciprocity for Religious Freedom VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See confirmed its intention to mobilize within the international community in the defense of Christians' fundamental rights in predominantly Muslim countries where religious freedom is denied.Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Vatican secretary for relations with states, confirmed this decision when addressing the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers on the topic "Migration and Mobility from and to Countries of Islamic Majority."Speaking on Vatican Radio, Archbishop Lajolo commented on Benedict XVI's appeal on Monday to Muslim countries to practice reciprocity in the recognition of religious freedom.Reciprocity, as understood by the Holy See, means that, if Christian countries recognize Muslims' freedom of worship, then Islamic nations should likewise recognize a similar right for Christians.However, in many Muslim countries this concept seems to be foreign, lamented Archbishop Lajolo. Such countries, he said, invoke "for their citizens abroad the fullness of rights that, on the contrary, they do not recognize for immigrants of other confessions in their own territory."The situation is forcing Christians to abandon countries of Muslim majority, the Vatican official noted.Thus, the archbishop said that the Holy See will make its voice heard in international organizations and conferences to promote respect for the human rights of immigrants and recognition of a juridical situation proper to the dignity of every person.Archbishop Lajolo added that the Holy See will continue to state its opposition to the use of religion to justify terrorism and violence. ZE06051820
For sometime now, indeed since last tax return days, I have been going through some IRS problems. My tax preparer's error of 2001 to 2003 left me in a mess. She had wrongfully listed me as a Religious with the vow of poverty. This is totally wrong. I need all the prayers from friends and well-wishers, to help resolve this issue. I do not want this to linger longer than necessary, as I leave for York Pennsylvania this August for my CPE Residency program. I do understand that IRS problems do not get resolved as quickly as one would expect, however I trust God is in-charge of things that tend to distress us.