Friday, July 22, 2016

WYD Trek: TNG -- Day 4

400 steps to Heaven

The view of the Old Town district of Gdańsk from the top of St. Mary's Church.
(Credit: Josh Tng.)

Today we visited the city of Gdansk, mainly the city's Old Town district. The city was the birthplace of the Solidarity movement, which saw the freedom of Poland restored after many years of Communist rule.

Gdansk is a beautiful city, with rich architecture s and a colourful atmosphere. The world famous St. Mary's Church is the third largest brick church in the world.

World Youth Day pilgrims visit a section of the Berlin Wall.
The piece was transported to Gdańsk to stand alongside
a section of a wall Lech Walesa climbed to lead the shipyard
workers campaign. (Credit: Josh Tng) 
 St. Mary's Church is in the Old Town district. 400 steps separated us from spectacular views of the Old Town. 400 steps. After the 200th step, I was starting to pray to be put me out of my misery. But I made it, along with the rest of our group, and we enjoyed excellent views of the famous Polish port city -- if a little cramped.

Other tourists filled the small roof, leaving very little room to actually take pictures. But I managed to snap a couple, and after admiring the view a little more, I took off back down the never-ending flight of stairs.

As we were heading down, my brother Jacob groaned, "This was not worth a few pictures."

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Is your parish playing Pokemon?

Diocese of Green Bay promotes "Pokevangelization"
Father David Miloscia in St. Louis shows young people the game of
Pokemon Go on his phone. (Photo: Lisa Johnston, St. Louis Review / CNS)
Pokemon Go, part scavenger hunt and part virtual reality game, has become wildly popular since its release July 6. Within a week, 21 million people were collecting Pokemon, competing, and leveling up thanks to a new app on their phones.

Now, the Diocese of Green Bay in Wisconsin has released a primer suggesting how to engage Pokemon Go players on church doorsteps. Find out what they mean about "Pokevangelism" here!

Report finds church attendance lowers suicide risk

Study also shows Catholic women less likely to take their lives than Protestants
Women who attend religious services, especially Catholic women,
are much less likely to commit suicide. Photo credit.
Women who go to church are apparently five times less likely to commit suicide than those who don't.

That's according to a new study in the U.S. that tracked 89,708 women between 1996 and 2010.
"Attendance at religious services once per week or more was associated with an approximately five-fold lower rate of suicide compared with never attending religious services."
The women in the study were between the ages of 30 and 55 and most were Christian. They reported to researchers how often they went to church: 17,028 went more than once a week, 36,488 went once a week, 14,548 went less than once a week, and 21,644 never did.

The study also found that Catholic women were less likely to commit suicide than their other Christian sisters. Read the report here.

WYD Trek: TNG -- Day 4 preview

Gdańsk and other Polish things

Gdańsk old town. (Credit: pyjama)

Today, we will be exploring the city of Gdańsk, a port city in Poland. Our group of pilgrims will be staying with various local families for the next four days.

My brother Jacob and I are being hosted by Olek and Magda within their cozy apartment. The couple have two very cute, young children.

While the adults speak English very well, the two daughters are much more fluent in their native tongue. The closest I've gotten to a conversation with them is a five minute laughing spree.

Laughter really is a universal language!

I'll have more to say about Gdansk later tonight. God bless!

St. Mary's to host Vacation Bible School

While playing, children will connect with God
Youngsters will learn about saints and Scripture during a children's summer camp at St. Mary's in Vancouver. Ron Nickel / Designpics.
St. Mary's Parish will host a Vacation Bible School for school-age children in August. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Also newly posted:

For international stories see The B.C. Catholic website.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

WYD Trek: TNG -- Day 3 preview

On the tracks to Gdańsk (gəˈdänsk, -ˈdansk)

 Clockwise from top: View of Central Gdańsk and Main City Hall; Neptune's Fountain in Long
Market Street; (centre: the maiden in the window); Third Millennium John Paul Ⅱ Bridge;
Neptune's Fountain in front of Artus Court; Old Town and Motława River at night.
(Credit:, Michał Słupczewski)

Today promises to be a slow day as our group of pilgrims will be spending a large portion of it travelling from Warsaw to the port city of Gdańsk -- more than 400 km away. We are travelling by train to attend the meetings called Days in the Diocese.

From Days in the Diocese page of the WYD 2016 Krakow website:
In the days preceding World Youth Day, Days in the Diocese provides a wonderful opportunity for the young pilgrims to become more familiar with local parishes, their people, and the country’s culture. By praying and volunteering with the people of the parishes, the youth naturally will experience enrichment of faith and cultural interchange.
Time spent during Days in the Diocese includes moments of prayer and meditation, direct involvement in Christian missionary work, specific service projects, and intercultural exchange with people from the home country of Poland, as well as with fellow pilgrims from around the world.
We will be meeting our host families after arriving. They have graciously agreed to host us for five days.

See you in Gdańsk!

Gdańsk flag.

WYD Trek: TNG -- Day 2

Visiting the Sanctuary of St. Kolbe (and how St. John Paul II inspired Poland)

A statue of Pope John Paul II stands outside the sanctuary of St. Maximilian
Kolbe in Teresin, Poland. (Credit: Josh Tng.)

A visit from St. John Paul II allegedly inspired Poland to overthrow communism.

Today we visited the place where Pope John Paul II spoke to the people of Warsaw. When he spoke he inspired so much power in the people, they apparently chanted, "We want God! We want God!"

Father Richard Au, the spiritual director for our WYD group, and impromptu fun fact guy, shared this and several other fun stories throughout the day as we visited the Sanctuary of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

St. Kolbe died in the Second World War. Learning about his history taught us a lesson in purity and martyrdom. St. Kolbe was imprisoned in Auschwitz, where he was killed.

His death came about because of his selflessness. After three prisoners escaped, 10 prisoners were chosen to be killed through starvation, as the Nazi jailors wanted to send a message to the other prisoners. When the last man, Franciszek Gajowniczek, fell down to the ground, he cried, "My wife! My children!" He begged the guards for mercy and St. Kolbe volunteered to take his place.

St. Kolbe's suffering inspired several prisoners. After two weeks, only St. Kolbe was alive. The guards decided to murder him by injecting him with carbolic acid.

Gajowniczek was present for St. Kolbe's canonization in 1982.

Franciszek Gajowniczek, 1941, Auschwitz prisoner 26273.
(Nov. 15, 1901 March 13, 1995)
Looking through St. Kolbe's room and viewing some of his relics revealed to us who the saint was: a peaceful, prayerful man who lived for his faith. Hopefully, many will continue to be inspired by the saint's acts of kindness, love, and self-sacrifice.

Port chaplain retires from mission to seafarers

Father Eason will continue to bring the Gospel to sailors as a volunteer
Father John Eason (second from left), chaplain to the Port of Vancouver, and volunteer Douglas McDonald (back row) stand among sailors. Father Eason, 74, is retiring but plans to continue helping out as a volunteer. "I hope to die with my shoes on," he said. BCC file photo.
A Vancouver port chaplain is retiring after two decades of bringing the Gospel to seafarers. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Also newly posted:

For international stories see The B.C. Catholic website.

Martin Mark makes plea to help Yazidis and other vulnerable minorities
Martin Mark, the director of the Toronto archdiocese's refugee office, appeared before the House of Commons Citizenship and Immigration Committee during hearings on the protection of vulnerable people July 18. Deborah Gyapong (CCN).
Martin Mark, who heads the Toronto Archdiocese's refugee office, pleads for policy changes to protect Yazidis and other vulnerable religious minorities. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

WYD Trek: -- TNG: Day 2 preview

St. Maximilian Kolbe

Fr. Maximilian Kolbe in 1939.

Today we travel to the west of Warsaw about 50 kms to visit the St. Maximilian Kolbe sanctuary called Niepokalanów, located at Teresin.

St. Kolbe was martyred in 1941 in Auschwitz. St. Kolbe was canonized in 1982 by Pope John Paul II and declared a martyr of charity.

Warsaw to Teresin.

Local memorial honours victims of Baghdad attack

Downtown vigil recalls deceased family and friends in Iraq, including a 14-year-old soccer fan
Doctor Mudaffer Al-Mudaffer holds an Iraqi flag and a candle to remember 14-year-old Zain Al-Abedeen Al-Mudaffer (inset), his cousin's only son and one of nearly 300 victims who died after a bomb went off in a busy shopping district in Baghdad July 3. Photo submitted.
Candles flickered in the rain outside the Vancouver Public Library as about 100 people honoured the victims of a massive attack in Baghdad. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Also newly posted:

For international stories see The B.C. Catholic website.

Basilian shocked at being named auxiliary bishop
"I find this appointment shocking and really hard to handle," he said in a June 17 interview. When he started receiving mysterious phone messages from Ottawa one Friday afternoon, leaving a woman's first name and a number to call, he deleted them from his phone. Maybe it was a telephone solicitor or some sort of scam. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Monday, July 18, 2016

WYD Trek: TNG -- Day 1

Group arrives in Warsaw
By Josh Tng

A cross outside the chapel at Heathrow airport.

After seventeen hours of travel, our group of pilgrims has reached Poland. Energy levels range from exhausted (myself) to ecstatic.

Before arriving in St. John Paul II's homeland, we celebrated Mass in a chapel in Heathrow airport. Now we ready ourselves for a new day and the excitement ahead.

We will see what Poland has in store for us!

WYD Trek: TNG -- Day 0

Youth embark on pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Poland
By Josh Tng

Josh Tng (back row, left) and other World Youth Day pilgrims from Vancouver gather for a photo
before embarking on their journey to Poland July 17.

World Youth Day: a spiritual frontier.

This blog will document the voyages of Joshua Tng. My mission for this travel blog: to explore Europe, to seek out deeper faith and prayer, and to boldly go where many pilgrims will go as well.

As I write this, my group is at the Vancouver airport. We will be flying to London, before heading to Poland. I will attempt to add updates daily after we arrive.

Please pray for us and all the pilgrims from Vancouver, and from around the world, as we participate in the 31st World Youth Day.

Visit this link for Papal World Youth Day messages.

Many about to journey to Krakow for World Youth Day

Archdiocese of Vancouver will send one of Canada's largest delegations
Caption: Staff at the John Paul II Centre rejoice with some of the pilgrims preparing to go to Krakow.
Millions of pilgrims from around the world will flood the streets of Krakow, Poland, July 25-31 for World Youth Day. About 3,750 of them will be Canadians. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Also newly posted:

For international stories see The B.C. Catholic website.

Refugee numbers climb to 65 million
Caption: A 17-year-old refugee from Eritrea smiles while playing soccer on a street in Rome July 14. Several refugees who live on the street said they were planning to head north to countries such as France and Germany. CNS photo / Paul Haring.
It's only a number, but 65.3 million for Martin Mark is heart-breaking. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Community celebrates generosity after big blaze

Event honours White Rock firefighters and residents for helping more than 100 evacuees
Knights of Columbus serve hamburgers to about 150 of their neighbours in the Star of the Sea Church parking lot. Greg Egan / Special to The B.C. Catholic.
White Rock residents rallied together six weeks after an apartment fire left more than 100 of their neighbours homeless. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Also newly posted:

For international stories
 see The B.C. Catholic website.

Bishop Donald Bolen appointed Archbishop of Regina
Archbishop-elect Donald Bolen / Tim Yaworski / Prairie Messenger (CCN).
After six years as Bishop of Saskatoon, Donald Bolen has been named the Archbishop of Regina. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Arizona bishops oppose recreational marijuana

They call it harmful to children and families
Four bishops have signed a joint statement against legalizing recreational marijuana in Arizona.
It "sends a message to children and young people that drug use is socially and morally acceptable," they wrote June 30.

"It is anticipated that legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Arizona will lead to more abuse by teens, more emergency room visits, more traffic deaths, and more societal costs."
Other U.S. bishops have spoken out against legalizing pot, and still others have spoken in favour of it for medical use. This comes after nearly 260,000 people signed petitions to put the question to Arizona voters. Read the full article here.

Meet the man building a Cathedral by hand

Spanish man promised God a chapel for his health
Justigo Gallego Martinez, a former monk who has been erecting a cathedral outside of Madrid. (Photo Credit: JMPerez, Wikimedia Commons)
Justigo Gallego Martinez has been building a Cathedral for the past 53 years of his life. He is only 90 years old.

The ex-farmer/bullfighter became a Trappist monk for eight years. In 1961 however, Gallego Martinez was forced to leave the monastery due to a case of tuberculosis. While sick, he implored to God to heal him, saying that he would build a chapel and name it after the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Lo and behold, Gallego Martinez made a full recovery, and set off to fulfill his promise in 1963. He has continued to build it ever since, despite no prior experience with architecture or construction.

For more information on his experiences building the cathedral, watch Great Big Story's short video here.

Bishop's cross returns home

Prelate and his brother-in-law gave finder a copper band as a thank-you
Bishop David Monroe's cross, lost Oct. 22, 2010, found its way back to him five years later. BCC file photo.
The soon-to-be retired Bishop of Kamloops was reunited with a missing cross through what some may call a miracle. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Also newly posted:

For international stories see The B.C. Catholic website.

Women seek to reduce violence
A group of women trying to reduce violence in Regina's North Central neighbourhood includes (from the left): Teresa Whalen Lux, Diana Demaria and Shannon Cisyk. Frank Flegel / Prairie Messenger (CCN).
A group of women from Regina's North Central neighbourhood is trying to do something to reduce violence in the area. The White Pony Lodge carries out patrols every Friday and Saturday from four p.m. to nine p.m. -- not to get involved in any perceived violence but to encourage their neighbours to be more vigilant and show they care. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Future bishop looks ahead to his new challenges

Father Joseph Nguyen, who was once a prisoner and a refugee, now prepares for episcopacy
Father Joseph Nguyen faced many roadblocks on his journey to become a priest. Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic.
A man who fled Vietnam by boat, faced imprisonment, and lived in a refugee camp, all to answer the call to become a priest, is about to become a bishop. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Also newly posted:

For international stories
 see The B.C. Catholic website.

Hope's Homes serves children with complex needs
Jacqueline Tisher. Frank Flegel / Prairie Messenger (CCN)
Ten years ago Jacqueline Tisher took some time off from work in neonatal intensive care to help a family who had children with complex medical needs. She hadn't planned on taking more than a year before returning to work. She is now head of Hope's Homes -- located in Regina, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert -- with an $8-million budget. It looks after children with complex medical needs. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Chancellor retires after nearly a decade of service

Anglican fell in love with Catholicism, became a priest, and handled biggest issues of local church
Chancellor Father Bruce McAllister smiles on his last day in his office. Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic.
The ordained convert who handles the archdiocese's most sensitive information is saying goodbye to loads of paperwork and hello to retirement. For full story
 see The B.C. Catholic website.

Also newly posted:

For international stories see The B.C. Catholic website.

Jason Kenney exits federal politics, but social conservatives still hopeful

File photo of Jason Kenney as a cabinet minister in 2015. Deborah Gyapong (CCN).
Jason Kenney's decision to exit federal politics left a gaping hole in the Conservative leadership race for social-conservative Tories hoping for a strong standard bearer. For full story see The B.C. Catholic website.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pokemon Go attracts crowds to church

Parishes act as great locations to "Catch 'em all"
Pikachu, the electric mouse Pokemon and international mascot. (Photo credits: etnyk via Flickr)
As the wildly popular app Pokemon Go prepares for international release, parishes may see an increase of visitors looking to snag their own pocket monsters.

The app involves travelling to real life locations to locate and capture virtual Pocket Monsters in order to achieve points, items and levels. Many real life locations are tagged as Pokestops, where users can gain experience points and more items for the game.

These locations are either famous landmarks, locations based on geo-tagged photos from Google, or user-submitted suggestions from a previous geolocation game called Ingress, also created by Niantic Labs, who designed the app. Of course, these locations include churches and parishes around the world.

Though the game has yet to be released outside of the United States and Australia, there are other methods to download the game in Canada. Individuals wandering the tall grass around parishes with their phones at the ready may be simply looking to catch some Pokemon.

For more information about Pokemon Go and its effects of parishes in the United States, click here.

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