Media Ignore Assassination of Fr. Ragheed Ganni

(Holy Family Parish Bulletin; June 17, 2007)

Last Sunday I took a little survey at our Spanish Masses. The survey concerned the impact of the media on the person in the pew. I asked two questions: How many had heard or read something this past week about Paris Hilton? Almost every hand went up. (The few that didn’t probably either did not hear or understand the question.) The second question was: How many of you heard about Ragheed Ganni? Only a couple of hands went up. I congratulated them. Ragheed Ganni was the young priest assassinated in Iraq the previous Sunday (June 3), along with three deacons. The story of Fr. Ragheed Ganni is certainly newsworthy. It sheds light on what should be a major area of concern: The fate of Christians in Iraq and other nations where they are actively persecuted.

I don’t blame the media entirely. After all, they have studied the public and they know what stories sell. They know that people love to hear about the misadventures of celebrities, but do not care that much about the suffering of people in far off places – even a place like Iraq which has become such a part of our national political battle. Still, it should be different for us as Catholics. Iraq has about 800,000 Christians, many of whom belong to the ancient Chaldean Rite. It is one of the official Rites of the Catholic Church, like the Latin Rite in which you and I worship. Christians were in Iraq (ancient Babylonia) before the rise of Islam and over the centuries have survived – and at times even thrived socially and economically.

In recent years thousands of Iraqi Christians have become refugees, fleeing to more peaceful parts of Iraq or leaving their nation entirely. Many people had encouraged Fr. Ragheed Ganni to do the same. He had studied in Italy and had friends in that country, so it would have been very easy for him to leave. A couple of years ago, his younger sister was attacked and narrowly escaped death. In spite of all that, Fr. Ganni stayed with his people. Before his death he spoke these words:

“There are days when I feel frail and full of fear. But when, holding the Eucharist, I say ‘Behold the Lamb of God, behold, who takes away the sin of the world,’ I feel his strength in me. When I hold the Host in my hands, it is really he who is holding me and all of us, challenging the terrorists and keeping us united in his boundless love.”

On June 3, 2007, after celebrating Mass at the Church of the Holy Spirit in the city of Mosul, armed gunmen murdered Fr. Ganni. They first tortured the priest by shooting his arm off and then proceeded to execute him and three subdeacons (Basman Yousef Daoud, Wadid Hanna and Ghasan Bida Wid) who accompanied him.

May their souls, and the souls of all who have given their lives for the faith, rest in peace. And may God grant that Ragheed Ganni and his companions be powerful intercessors for the Iraqi people and for our troubled world.

A few final words of thanks: I want to thank all those who donated to the Randy Terlicker Scholarship and Endowment Fund. As the name suggests, this fund has two purposes: immediate help to families who need tuition assistance to send their child to Holy Family School and a long term endowment so we can get our parish school on a more solid financial foundation. During this past year, Principal Glen Lutz, Parish Administrator Gary Samaniego and I have been working with a committee that includes two current fire fighters and Randy’s mom, Colleen Terlicker. The committee has representatives from the Hispanic community and from the overall parish. We have established the fund and with the help of the Archdiocese, put together a brochure, in both English and Spanish, to explain the fund. At this stage I am mainly asking your prayers and that you study the brochure. As our parish Capital Campaign nears its successful conclusion, the Randy Terlicker Fund will be one of the options for continued support of our parish and school.

And, again, a big thank-you to those who made a pledge or donation to the Annual Catholic Appeal. A few mentioned to me that their names were not on the list. I ask your patience and understanding. Some have been kind enough to fill out another pledge envelope. Don’t worry: If the misplaced envelope turns up, we will not charge you double! I will try to print one more list of those who made a pledge (including those who simply offered prayers) just to make sure we received all the pledges. Of course, it is not too late to send in a pledge envelope or drop it by the office. I am very happy that Holy Family Parish showed a significant increase in the number of pledges this year. Thank you.

Also, I thank you who picked up a parish return envelope to use when away this summer. Our major parish expense is for salaries and that continues the same even during summertime.

Finally, I am happy to announce that Archbishop Brunett will be visiting Holy Family Parish toward the end of this month. On June 26, at 7 p.m., we will host a Mass in honor of St. Josemaria Escrivá. All are welcome to attend. More next week.

En la reunión anual de sacerdotes en Ocean Shores, el Obispo Eusebio Elizondo dio una presentacion sobre el Plan Pastoral Para el Ministerio Hispano. Mencionó de haber hablado con un hombre que, unos dias antes de la proclamacion del Plan Pastoral, había recibido su “tarjeta verde.” Con mucha emoción le contó al Obispo y le dijo que el Plan Pastoral habia sido algo semejante: su tarjeta verde para la Iglesia. El titulo del Plan es “De Huespedes a Anfitriones.” Vamos a estudiarlo como equipo parroquial y con los líderes de la comunidad. Tengo una cantidad limitada de los documentos en la oficina.

Nuestra participación en la Iglesia tiene esta meta: la participación plena en la vida vida de la Comunión de los Santos. Las lecturas de este domingo hablan de nuestra inserción en la vida de Dios por medio del perdón de los pecados. El Rey David había cometido unos pecados muy serios: adulterio con una mujer llamada Betsabé y luego ordenó la matanza de su esposo. David pensaba que todo estaba bien. El profeta Natán le dijo a David que, a pesar de ser rey, no podía escapar el juicio de Dios. David tenía que aceptar las consecuencias de sus pecados y el castigo fue horrible. Pero eso no es el punto principal. Todos tenemos que vivir con las consecuencias de nuestros malos hechos. Sin embargo, David recibió una palabra adicional. Natán le dijo: "El Señor te perdona tu pecado. No morirás." ¡Que palabras más bellas!

El Salmo de hoy - atribuido al Rey David - expresa la alegría de ser perdonado: "Dichoso el que está absuelto de su culpa, a quien le han sepultado su pecado...Alégrense, justos, y gocen con el Señor." Tu y yo estamos incluidos entre los "justos." No porque somos perfectos, no porque no hemos pecado. No, estamos contados entre los justos a causa de lo que Jesús ha hecho por nosotros. Eso es lo que dice el evangelio de hoy. Jesús en su persona es el perdón de Dios. Hoy escuchamos de la mujer que bañó los pies de Jesús con sus lágrimas de remordimiento. Esto perturbó a los otros. La vieron como una que destuye hogares y corrumpe a los jóvenes. Jesús no minimizó a sus pecados - "que son muchos." Pero la perdonó. "Tus pecados te han quedado perdonados." Quiere decir las mismas palabras a nosotros. Si hacemos la oración sencilla, "Dios, perdóname," recibiremos una respuesta. A pesar de estar lejos de ser justos, Jesús nos hace justo. Naturalmente ese perdón implica un proceso de contrición, satisfacción y absolución sacramental. Pero como el Rey David, como la mujer arrepentida, podemos conocer la alegría incomparable de perdón divino: "Dichoso el que está absuelto de su culpa, a quien le han sepultado su pecado...Alégrense, justos, y gocen con el Señor."


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