Welcoming pope after long flight, Thais keep it warm and informal

Pope Francis embraces a girl in traditional dress as he arrives at Military Air Terminal 2 in Bangkok Nov. 20, 2019. The pope is visiting Thailand and Japan Nov. 20-26. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden 
Catholic News Service

BANGKOK (CNS) — Arriving in Thailand after an 11-hour flight, Pope Francis was greeted by 11 children — one for each of the country’s dioceses.

Pope Francis caressed the faces of the shy little ones and reciprocated a hug with the bolder, older girls. All of the children were dressed in traditional costumes and held a Thai flag and a Vatican flag.

Also on hand was Pope Francis’ second cousin, Salesian Sister Ana Rosa Sivori, a missionary in Thailand for more than 50 years and the official translator for the pope’s stay Nov. 20-23.

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In health scare, Jeannie Gaffigan relied on combined dose of faith, humor

Jeannie Gaffigan, author of “When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith and Funny People” is pictured in an undated publicity photo. In the book, the co-writer and producer of comedy specials, two books and a television series with her husband and business partner, Jim Gaffigan, recounts the unexpected discovery of a pear-sized tumor in her brain in 2017, her three-day journey from learning about its existence to surgery, her complicated recovery and how she got through it all with faith,family and humor. (CNS photo/Chad Griffith, courtesy Jeannie Gaffigan)

By Carol Zimmermann 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Jeannie Gaffigan didn’t initially set out to write a book about having her brain tumor removed.

It is a story that pretty much rolled out of her usual observations on life, faith and family that have been such an integral part of what she’s been doing for the past several years as the co-writer and producer of comedy specials, two books and a television series with her husband and business partner, Jim Gaffigan.

“When Life Gives You Pears: The Healing Power of Family, Faith and Funny People,” released Oct. 1, recounts the unexpected discovery of a pear-sized tumor in Gaffigan’s brain in 2017, her three-day journey from learning about its existence (almost by accident) to surgery and a complicated recovery where she was unable to eat or even drink water for six months.

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Everyday Heroes: Priest who once dreamed of majors now an MLB chaplain

Father Burke Masters, chaplain of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, is pictured in a May 16, 2018, photo. (CNS photo/ Spirt Juice Studios, courtesy Knights of Columbus)

By Andrew Butler 
Catholic News Service

Burke Masters was a baseball player who waited years for his call up to the major leagues. But when it finally came, he was wearing a different uniform than he expected.

Masters, you see, is a Catholic priest. And years after his dream died out in the minor leagues, he was named the chaplain of the Chicago Cubs.

“God was saying this was your dream to be a major league baseball player and now you’re living my dream as a priest. And you get to do it in the major leagues,” he said.

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Pope calls for action against destructive culture of food waste

A child prepares a meal outside a makeshift shelter Nov. 1, 2019, in Gumuruk, South Sudan. A negligent and selfish culture of food waste is fueling the global hunger crisis, damaging the lives of individuals, and preventing the progress of all people, Pope Francis said Nov 18. (CNS photo/Samir Bol, Reuters)

By Paige Hanley
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A negligent and selfish culture of food waste is fueling the global hunger crisis, damaging the lives of individuals and preventing the progress of all people, Pope Francis said.

“In many places, our brothers and sisters do not have access to sufficient and healthy food, while in others, food is discarded and squandered,” the pope said in a message sent Nov. 18 to David M. Beasley, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program.

The organization provides food assistance to an estimated 80 million people in 82 countries.

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Posted in Vatican, World

Minority mission: Pope to encourage Thailand’s small Catholic community

Sister Sukanya Sukchai shows newly made chasubles for Pope Francis Nov. 12, 2019, at a Catholic preparatory school in Bangkok. The pope will visit Thailand Nov. 20-23 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam Mission, the first Catholic jurisdiction in what was to become Thailand. (CNS photo/Soe Zeya Tun, Reuters)

By Cindy Wooden 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The theme of Pope Francis’ visit to Thailand is focused on mission, but in the Asian country where Catholics are a tiny minority, that mission is less about proclamation and more about witness, service and dialogue.

The pope will visit Thailand Nov. 20-23 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam Mission, the first Catholic jurisdiction in what was to become Thailand.

Today the country has 11 dioceses and some 389,000 Catholics. Although Catholics make up less than 1% of the population, the church runs hundreds of schools and dozens of hospitals, clinics, homes for the elderly and orphanages. And women religious are actively involved in combatting human trafficking, especially trafficking for prostitution.

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No nukes: Pope expected to take aim at new arms race during Japan trip

A nun walks to Karematsu Shrine to attend an ecumenical service in Nagasaki, Japan, Nov. 3, 2019. Catholics, Buddhists and “hidden Christians” took part in the service at the shrine, which is dedicated to a Portuguese priest who died on the spot in the 17th century. Pope Francis will visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima Nov. 24. (CNS photo/Issei Kato, Reuters)

By Cindy Wooden 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis’ top aide made no secret of what will be on the pope’s mind when he visits Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, Nov. 24: “the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

In a late September visit to the United Nations, the aide, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, spoke repeatedly and passionately about the need to stop manufacturing, testing and stockpiling nuclear weapons.

During his Nov. 20-26 visit to Thailand and Japan, Pope Francis will deliver a message at the “hypocenter” or ground zero park in Nagasaki and will hold a meeting for peace later that day at the peace memorial in Hiroshima.

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As immigration lawyer, nun helps reduce clients’ anxiety

Sister Graciela Colon poses Oct. 18, 2019, outside the office of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J., in Perth Amboy. Sister Graciela, a Sister of Christian Charity, who professed first vows in August 2019, also is an immigration attorney with Catholic Charities. (CNS photo/Gerald Wutkowski Jr., Catholic Spirit)

By Marianne Zanko Komek 
Catholic News Service

PERTH AMBOY, N.J. (CNS) — In 2013, while volunteering in India, Graciela Colon first heard the inner stirrings of Jesus calling her to a religious vocation.

For three weeks, she helped St. Teresa of Kolkata’s Missionary Sisters of Charity, minister to abandoned children, some of whom were severely disabled. They took the children off the streets and cared for them.

“It was a life-changing experience that gave me deeper insight into the preciousness of life,” Sister Graciela told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Diocese of Metuchen. “Although I knew that I was not called to enter the Missionary Sisters, in the chaos of Calcutta, I felt such a deep peace that awakened in me the desire to become a religious.”

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