Farmers in Zimbabwe facing severe droughts, hunger crisis, CRS says

Harare, Zimbabwe, Dec 31, 2019 / 03:12 pm (CNA).- As severe drought conditions continue in Zimbabwe, close to 7 million people are facing food shortages, a Catholic aid agency warned this week.

“Families have run out of options to put food on their tables,” said Dorrett Byrd, Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) regional director for Southern Africa.

With repeated droughts over the past five years, many of Zimbabwe’s small farmers have found themselves unable to feed their families. The United Nations estimates that nearly half of the 16 million people in the country are urgently in need of food aid, and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network ranks the country as experiencing a “Phase 3 food crisis,” signifying widespread acute malnutrition.

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In Rochester, moms’ group prays for vocations to come from among their families

Rochester, N.Y., Dec 31, 2019 / 03:06 pm (CNA).- A recently-formed group of Catholic mothers in Rochester, New York has committed to praying regularly for the flourishing of vocations from within their own families.

“We have to pray for our kids, for their vocations, to hear God’s call, what He’s asking of them,” said Janene Loughran, one of the organizers of the new Mothers of Lu prayer group in the Diocese of Rochester.

The idea began in June, at a picnic with families and seminarians in the diocese. Fr. Peter Van Lieshout, one of the co-directors of vocations for the diocese, told them about the Mothers of Lu in Italy, a group of moms in the late 1800s who would gather regularly in their small village and pray for priestly vocations to come from their own families. In the 65 years that followed, more than 300 priests and religious vocations came from among their children.

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Pope Sylvester, and the End of a Decade

As 2019 comes to an end, ‘tis fitting to look back on the year – even the decade – that was, and prepare for what will be. Paula Adamick has her own take on some of the more significant events, most of them troubling – and the reader may add to the list – but more on that in moment.

We don’t know a whole lot about the mysterious and shadowy Pope Saint Sylvester, who reigned from 314, soon after Constantine made Christianity legal with his victory at the Milvian Bridge, until his death on this day in 335. But he must have been a vigorous man, for his reign was nothing if not externally eventful: With her legal status, the Church could build official churches, and build she did, under the Pope’s direction: It is from this time that we have Saint John Lateran, Santa Croce in Jerusalem, the original Saint Peter’s Basilica – before the splendid renaissance structure we now know.  There is also the ‘donation of Constantine’, steeped in legend, with the emperor giving the Pope territory around Rome as a basis for the Church’s temporal apostolate and authority, which, whatever the necessity of such temporal power, would cause so much trouble in the Middle Ages, right up to the modern era (with the compromise reached with the Lateran Accord in 1929).

Sylvester also sent legates, Vitus and Vincentius, to the Council of Nicaea in 325, approving its decrees, including the condemnation of Arianism, defining for all time the divinity of Christ as homo-ousios, ‘consubstantial’, with the Father.

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Four new Canadian saints added to canon this decade

For sheer numbers, there has never been a decade like the 2010s for saint-making.

That’s because Pope Francis canonized over 800 in one go when he declared St. Antonio Primaldo and his 812 companions (martyred in 1480 by an invading Ottoman army in Oranto, southern Italy) saints on May 12, 2013.

Between Popes Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, the 2010s were a decade of significant canonizations for Canadian Catholics. The decade saw Canadians St. Brother André Bessette, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. François de Laval, St. Marie de l’Incarnation added to the canon.

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