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Uvalde shooting victim's last video: When we die we will be with Christ

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Lima, Peru, May 28, 2022 / 15:20 pm (CNA).

Christ died for us and when we die we will be with him, was the last message left on her TikTok account by the girl Ellie García, one of the 21 victims of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Garcia’s video was shared on Facebook May 25 by her father, Steven. 

"Hey guys. Just wanted to bring you up to date," the nine-year-old begins. "Jesus, He died for us. So when we die, we'll be up there with him. I have three pictures of him in my room."

On May 28, Steven uploaded a photo on his networks in which Ellie is seen lying on her bed, praying with her hands together.

“She prayed out loud every night so we could pray with her. I remember that day we had just bought the lamp that is on and she wanted to sleep with it on (…), she gave us a hug and a kiss and went to pray.”

Massachusetts parish packs close to 48,000 meals for families in Haiti

Volunteers pack meals for families in Haiti at St. Cecilia parish in Wilbraham, Mass., May 2022. / St. Cecilia Parish, Wilbraham

Springfield, Mass., May 28, 2022 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

More than 150 volunteers at St. Cecilia Parish in Wilbraham, Massachusetts spent May 21 and 22 packing nearly 48,000 meals for needy families in Haiti. The parish’s Hope Ministry assists families in Haiti each year. This is the second year the parish participated in the Feed Haiti Pack-a-thon project, run by Holy Name Haiti Health Promise. The New Jersey nonprofit operates Hospital Sacre Coeur, located in Milot, Haiti.

“This is the second year doing the food pack-a-thon because there’s such severe famine,” said parishioner Kathy Fuss, who co-chaired the project with fellow parishioner Katy Reed.

“Feed the Hunger provides the team and the food which we bought for 35 cents a meal. All of our food is going to Hospital Sacre Coeur which is now part of Haiti Health Promise, formerly known as the CRUDEM Foundation,” Fuss explained.

In March, the parish held a Hope Haiti fundraiser to pay for the meals. A parishioner, Dr. Peter J. Kelly, an ophthalmologist and eye surgeon in Ludlow, is the former president of the CRUDEM Foundation. Dr. Kelly has led many efforts to help those in need in Haiti with parishioners from St. Cecilia’s through the years. In addition, St. Cecilia’s has also helped fund the building of 19 houses in Haiti.

“This all started because of Peter Kelly. That’s how people from St. Cecilia’s started going to Haiti,” said Fuss, a registered nurse who has gone on two mission trips to Haiti.

All of the food packed at the church this weekend will be distributed by Hospital Sacre Coeur in Haiti. Several other pack-a-thons have been held in recent weeks around the country.

“At St. Cecilia Parish, we try to put faith in action through our youth and seniors and everyone in between,” said Father John Connors, the pastor of St. Cecilia Parish. “This weekend is an example. Jesus calls us to feed to hungry. With several thousand meals packed up, parishioners have had an impact to do just that,” he said.

This article was first published by the Catholic Communications Corporation, supporting the Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts, May 22, and is reprinted at Catholic News Agency with permission.

Pentecost Novena: Here's how to pray the first novena

Duccio's Pentecost (1308) / public domain

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 27, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The first novena ever prayed is the Pentecost Novena, or the Novena to the Holy Spirit. This year, it begins on Friday, May 27, and concludes on Saturday, June 4.

Catholics worldwide often recite the novena during the nine days that fall between the feast of the Ascension, when Christ rises body and soul to heaven, and the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles, Mary, and the first followers of Christ.

This year, Pentecost falls on June 5.

The prayer recalls and invites Catholics to participate in the nine days that the Blessed Virgin Mary and the apostles spent in prayer after Christ ascended into heaven. Together, they prayed in Jerusalem in anticipation of the Holy Spirit’s coming, which Christ had promised them. 

The word “novena” is derived from the Latin word for nine. Catholics will frequently pray a novena — a prayer repeated once a day for nine days — for a particular intention. This novena asks for the Holy Spirit’s seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

There are many versions of this novena, including one derived from the "The Sanctifier" by Servant of God Luis Maria Martinez, Archbishop of Mexico from 1937 to 1956, and made available by the Daughters of St. Paul

The Archdiocese of Denver recommends the one below, adapted from novenas found on Adoremus.org and Angeluspress.org.  

End each day with the following prayer for all seven gifts:

O Lord Jesus Christ who, before ascending into heaven, promised to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of your apostles and disciples, be pleased to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that he may perfect in my soul the work of your grace and love.  Grant me the spirit of wisdom, that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal; the spirit of understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth; the spirit of counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven; the spirit of fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome all obstacles that oppose my salvation; the spirit of knowledge that I may know God and know myself in him; the spirit of piety that I may find the service of God sweet and pleasurable; the spirit of fear of the Lord that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to offend him.  Animate me in all things with your spirit.  Amen.

Day 1: Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit 

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,

from the clear celestial height,

thy pure beaming radiance give. 

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your divine love.  Send forth your spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.  O God, who has taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the gift of the same Spirit we may always be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Day 2: Prayer for the Gift of Holy Fear 

Come thou father of the poor,

come with treasures which endure,

come thou light of all that live. 

Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set you, my Lord and God, before my face forever; help me to shun all things that can offend you, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of your Divine Majesty in heaven, where you live and reign in the unity of the Blessed Trinity, God, world without end.  Amen.

Day 3: Prayer for the Gift of Piety 

Thou of all consolers best,

visiting the troubled breast,

dost refreshing peace bestow. 

Come, O blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart.  Implant in my soul filial love toward God my heavenly Father, and brotherly love for all, so that I may delight in the service of God and my neighbor.  Amen.

Day 4: Prayer for the Gift of Fortitude 

Thou in toil art comfort sweet,

pleasant coolness in the heat,

solace in the midst of woe. 

Come of blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in time of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from you, my God and greatest Good.  Amen.

Day 5: Prayer for the Gift of Knowledge 

Light immortal, light divine,

visit thou these hearts of thine,

and our inmost being fill. 

Come, O blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for your glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to you and your eternal rewards.  Amen.

Day 6: Prayer for the Gift of Understanding 

If thou take thy grace away,

nothing pure in man will stay;

all his good is turned to ill. 

Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in your light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of you, the Father, and the Son.  Amen.

Day 7: Prayer for the Gift of Counsel 

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;

on our dryness pour thy dew;

wash the stains of guilt away. 

Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do your holy will.  Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil and direct me by the straight path of your commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long.  Amen.

Day 8: Prayer for the Gift of Wisdom 

Bend the stubborn heart and will,

melt the frozen, warm the chill,

guide the steps that go astray. 

Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power, and beauty.  Teach me to love them above and beyond the passing joys and satisfactions of earth.  Help me to attain them and possess them forever.  Amen.

Day 9: Prayer for the Fruits of the Holy Spirit 

Thou on those who evermore,

thee confess and thee adore,

in thy sevenfold gift descend. 

Give them comfort when they die,

give them life with thee on high,

give them joys which never end. 

Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with your heavenly gifts: your charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to your inspiration may merit to be united eternally with you in the love of the Father and the Son.  Amen.

Eucharist film again in US theaters for one day only

"ALIVE: Who is there?" is a new documentary about personal encounters with the Eucharist. / Hakuna Films/Bosco Films

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 27, 2022 / 15:23 pm (CNA).

A film highlighting the transformative power of the Eucharist will have an encore showing in theaters in the U.S. on June 21, the day on which the bishops’ Eucharistic revival will begin.

Founder of Bosco Films — the organization that is marketing the film “ALIVE: Who is there?” — Lucía González-Barandiarán said in a press release that “This is exactly what we prayed for.” 

She continued: “We are calling on Catholics everywhere to turn out at the theaters! Bring your family, those who are near and those who are far off, and let them experience the truth of the Eucharist and the powerful testimonies of the unlikely men and women who share their stories. No one will leave the theater the same. We have given you a movie about the Eucharist, now it is up to you to lead people to the theaters!”

Directed and produced by Spanish filmmakers, the Bosco Films and Hakuna Films documentary “ALIVE: Who is there?” features the testimonies of five men and women who share how the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist has transformed their lives.

The film, which is in Spanish with English subtitles, also includes bonus content, including commentary from Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, the U.S. bishops’ conference chair on evangelization and catechesis, who is leading the three-year national eucharistic revival.

Cozzens told CNA in April that he hoped many would go see the movie, while praising the film's mode of using testimony to teach about the Real Presence.

Father Jose Pedro Manglano, founder of the Hakuna movement, said in the press release that “ALIVE always creates a movement and the movement we hope to create is one around renewed Eucharistic devotion.”

“It's no coincidence with God that the encore showing of ALIVE will take place exactly as the United States Catholic bishops begin their initiative for Eucharistic revival,” he added.

Tickets for the 90-minute-long documentary can be bought through Fathom Events. The film is planned to be available in more than 300 locations across the U.S.

On its April 25 broadcast in theaters, 30,000 tickets to the film were sold in more than 750 locations across the country. 

As of right now, Bosco films is in negotiations with Australian distributors to bring the film there. Streaming and DVD will be available after its showing in theaters.

“ALIVE will serve as a tool for Catholic dioceses, parishes, ministries and families to share the message of Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist at a time when the world is in great need of the light, hope and power of Jesus Christ,” the press release says. 

“In a very special way, the encore presentation of ALIVE  will become a cinematic platform for parish and ministry groups wanting to participate in the national movement toward Eucharistic revival in the U.S.”

Vandalism of pro-life pregnancy centers continues across US with incident near Seattle

null / Photographee.eu/Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, May 27, 2022 / 12:39 pm (CNA).

Pro-life organizations and Catholic church buildings continue to be targeted with arson and graffiti attacks, incidents which began in earnest earlier this month after a leaked draft opinion suggested that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and return the question of abortion policy to the states. 

In the latest reported incident, a Seattle-area crisis pregnancy center was tagged with graffiti and vandalized in the early morning hours of May 25. In addition to the red paint, at least five of the front windows of Next Step Pregnancy Center in Lynnwood, Washington were smashed. 

Security video footage shared online by a local radio host shows a lone person dressed in black, spray painting the slogans “Jane’s revenge” and “If abortions aren’t safe, you aren’t either.”

The Next Step center provides free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, counseling, post-abortive support, pregnancy loss support, and adoption information, according to its website

"I believe that we were targeted because a lot of people, including maybe that person, are very misinformed and misguided about what really goes on in a pregnancy resource clinic,"  Heather Vasquez, director of the center, told local radio host Jason Rantz.

"I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about what’s really happening here. But none of them ever want to come in and, you know, be with us and see what happens day to day."

The center has stayed open and continued its work despite the damage, and Lynnwood police have opened a case on the incident, Fox News reported. 

The latest spate of attacks on pregnancy centers began with an incident at the headquarters of Wisconsin Family Action, an organization that advocates for the unborn, marriage, and religious liberty, which were set on fire May 8. "A molotov cocktail, which did not ignite, was thrown inside the building. It also appears a separate fire was started in response," a police report said.

Graffiti left outside the building, located on the north side of Madison, Wisconsin, said, "If abortions aren't safe than you aren't either" — matching the graffiti left in Washington. 

A group called “Jane’s Revenge” reportedly claimed responsibility for the Wisconsin attack. 

That same evening, Oregon Right to Life reported that Molotov cocktails were thrown at the organization’s offices in Keizer, igniting a small fire. The fire was quickly put out and no one was hurt.

Since then, there have been several other notable attacks. In Denton, Texas, near Dallas, two women's resource centers, Woman to Woman Resource Center and Loreto House, were vandalized over the May 7-8 weekend. The buildings were spray painted with slogans such as “Forced birth is murder” and “Not a clinic.”

In Maryland, the ​​Alpha Pregnancy Center in Reisterstown, northwest of Baltimore, suffered spray-painted threats May 14 including "If abortions aren't safe, neither are you,” "Not a clinic," and "You're anti-choice and not pro-life." Those messages were also signed as being from "Jane's Revenge.” 

Other incidents have been reported at pro-life centers in Frederick, Maryland and Alexandria, Virginia. 

Catholic church buildings have been targeted too. 

St. John XXIII parish in Fort Collins, about an hour north of Denver, was tagged with graffiti in the early morning of May 7, police said. “My Body My Choice” and a symbol that appears to be an “A” signifying “anarchy” were written on the church’s exterior. Some exterior glass panels at the church also were broken.

The look and style of the graffiti appears similar to that which appeared on a Catholic church building in nearby Boulder a few days prior. Sacred Heart of Mary Parish was defaced with pro-abortion slogans the evening of May 3, marking the second time in less than a year that the parish has been targeted with graffiti of this sort. 

Large US companies rated on respect for free speech, religious freedom

null / zimmytws/Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 27, 2022 / 10:58 am (CNA).

With some American companies able to have a profound impact on the exercise of free speech and religious freedom, Alliance Defending Freedom and Inspire Investing have launched a Business Index to rate their commitment to these values.

“CEOs and business leaders have positions of considerable power. They shouldn’t weaponize their influence or the companies they run to divide Americans or engage in speech censorship or anti-religious bigotry,” ADF Senior Vice President for Corporate Engagement Jeremy Tedesco said in a May 26 statement.

“Instead of using the cultural power of their brands to drive polarization, business leaders should commit to respecting everyone, regardless of their religion or ideology. Businesses should respect viewpoint diversity at every level of their organizations, from the shop floor to the board room, and externally as well.”

The 2022 Business Index rates 50 companies on the Fortune 1000 list according to a “Viewpoint Diversity Score” in the market, the workplace, and the public square. The 50 companies examined were organizations in the banking, payment processing, and cloud services industries.

Companies that “serve as platforms for third-party expression in the digital space” were also examined, ADF stated. The report said that only companies in “specific sectors of concern” were considered for rankings.

The statement said that “Viewpoint Diversity Score will provide companies with workable solutions through model polices, research, toolkits, polling, and constructive dialogue.”

Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing, a Christian investment firm, commented that “By adopting the model policies and strategies we recommend, companies can cement their reputations as tolerant businesses that respect free speech and religious freedom as a standard part of doing business.”

In a May 25 op-ed at the Wall Street Journal, Tedesco and Netzly wrote that “the time is ripe to restore a business culture that respects American freedoms and ideals as well as diverse views among employees, customers, shareholders, and the general public.”

Businesses in the U.S., they said, have become captive “to a left-wing political agenda that many of their employees, customers, and shareholders don’t support, and that many Americans don’t want imposed on them by powerful governments or private actors.”

“Companies that respect diverse viewpoints are better equipped to serve people and communities with diverse values, recruit and retain top talent, and contribute to a public culture that supports liberal democracy and open markets,” Tedesco and Netzly stated.

The 50 corporations on the Business Index were given an average Viewpoint Diversity Score of 12%, with a range from 2% to 35%.

While no industry performed well, according to ADF, certain industries scored “particularly poorly.”

Computer software industries were given a score of 6%, while internet services and retailing scored 7%. The financial and data services industry garnered an 8% rating.

Companies that have come under fire for encroaching free speech, such as Twitter, Meta, and Alphabet, are all on the list.

Among the members of the Viewpoint Diversity Score Advisory Council are Andrew Abela, Dean of The Bush School of Business at Catholic University of America; Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals & Institutions at Princeton University; and Andrew Olivastro, Vice President for Outreach at The Heritage Foundation.

UPDATE: These Catholic bishops support Nancy Pelosi ban on Holy Communion

Photo illustration. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 27, 2022 / 08:39 am (CNA).

So far only a small minority of U.S. bishops have come out publicly in support of Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone’s May 20 announcement that he is barring Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, her home diocese, until she repudiates her longstanding advocacy of abortion.

There are 194 dioceses and archdioceses in the U.S. Here is a list of those bishops who have spoken in favor of Cordileone’s action. Please send updates, with links to online statements if available, to [email protected]

California

Diocese of Oakland

Diocese of Santa Rosa

Bishop Robert Vasa said on May 20 that he spoke to the pastor of St. Helena Catholic Church in St.Helena, a parish that Pelosi reportedly attends on occasion. 

Vasa said, “I have visited with the pastor at St Helena and informed him that if the Archbishop prohibited someone from receiving Holy Communion then that restriction followed the person and that the pastor was not free to ignore it.”

“The new Canon (1379 §4) makes it clear that providing sacraments to someone prohibited from receiving them [has] its own possible penalties,” he said.

Colorado

Archdiocese of Denver

Illinois

Diocese of Springfield

Kansas

Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann issued the following statement on May 20:

"I applaud Archbishop Cordileone’s patient and persevering efforts to enlighten Speaker Pelosi about the moral gravity of her extreme efforts to promote, to advocate and to initiate legislation to enshrine legalized abortion into federal law. I fully support the both pastoral and courageous actions that Archbishop Cordileone has now taken in an effort to awaken Speaker Pelosi’s conscience and at the same time to protect Catholics in the Archdiocese of San Francisco and throughout the country from being confused by Speaker Pelosi’s radical support for abortion, while claiming to be a faithful Catholic. I pray that Speaker Pelosi will have a change of heart."

Nebraska

Diocese of Lincoln

Oklahoma

Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

Oregon

Diocese of Baker

Bishop Liam Cary issued the following statement on May 20:

"Representative Nancy Pelosi proudly combines “devout” practice of Catholic faith in her personal life with high-profile promotion of legalized abortion in her political life. The scandalizing gap between belief and behavior on the part of the Speaker of the House grievously misleads her fellow believers about Catholic teaching on social justice and seriously handicaps Catholic efforts to defend unborn life in the womb. 

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has repeatedly brought these sad facts to Representative Pelosi’s attention and called her to repentance. In response, the Speaker has defiantly doubled down on her uncompromising advocacy for unlimited abortion, thereby proposing herself as an exemplar for Catholic politicians who deliberately distance themselves from the saving clarity of the Gospel of Life. At the same time, in choosing to ally herself actively with abortion’s most extreme proponents, Representative Pelosi has unilaterally broken communion with Archbishop Cordileone and the flock he shepherds. She has withdrawn herself from communion with the Church.  

In a letter to the Speaker on May 19 Archbishop Cordileone acknowledged this sad rupture for what it is and made her aware of its consequences: she is not to present herself for Holy Communion until she publicly renounces her support for abortion, makes a sacramental confession, and receives absolution. These conditions invite Representative Pelosi’s return to Communion and show her the way to do so on the Church’s terms, not her own. May our merciful Lord grant her the grace to accept them. May He strengthen Archbishop Cordileone to walk the path of courage with confidence."

Texas

Diocese of Fort Worth

Diocese of Tyler

Bishop Joseph Strickland said on May 25 that Pelosi would be barred from receiving Communion in the Diocese of Tyler in eastern Texas.

He wrote on Twitter: "The concern for Mrs Pelosi’s eternal salvation extends to the Diocese of Tyler. She is barred from Communion here until she repents & stops advocating the murder of children. Pray for her heart to be turned to God & away from the power of this world."

Washington State

Diocese of Spokane

Wisconsin

Diocese of Green Bay

Diocese of Madison

Bishop Donald Hying supported Cordileone, saying: “I fully support Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s prudent decision to recognize that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, has persistently taken public positions in support of legal abortion, contrary to her professed Catholic faith, choosing to separate herself from full communion with the Catholic Church, and therefore is not to present herself for the reception of Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.”

Hying said that “Cordileone’s public statement made it clear that this serious measure is ‘purely pastoral, not political’ in a further attempt ‘to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking…’”

Virginia

Diocese of Arlington

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge said May 25 that he would respect the ban imposed by Cordileone because of Pelosi's staunch advocacy for legalized abortion.

“He is her bishop and as that bishop the direction and guidance he provides is not limited to just a geographical area,” Burbidge said on his diocese's "The Walk Humbly Podcast." His comments were first reported by the Arlington Catholic Herald, the diocese's newspaper.

“I can’t say it enough, (these) decisions are made for the good of individuals to guard the faithful from scandal," which is caused when Catholics in public office take positions at odds with Church teaching," the bishop said, according to the newspaper's report. "That confuses people and a bishop has to guard against that."

Burbidge revealed that while he has not publicly announced that someone should not receive Communion in his diocese, "I have privately shared that directive with individuals who have continuously scandalized the Church by holding a personal Catholic identity while also publicly advocating for abortion or other inherent moral evils," the newspaper reported.

“All people, including those who are not public individuals, have to approach the sacraments truly in communion with the Church and Our Lord,” Burbidge said.

Texas shooting victim's husband dies of heart attack; archbishop prays for Catholic family

People arrive to drop off flowers at a makeshift memorial outside the Robb Elementary School on May 26, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. - Grief at the massacre of 19 children at the elementary school in Texas spilled into confrontation on May 25, as angry questions mounted over gun control -- and whether this latest tragedy could have been prevented. The tight-knit Latino community of Uvalde on May 24 became the site of the worst school shooting in a decade, committed by a disturbed 18-year-old armed with a legally bought assault rifle. / Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 26, 2022 / 15:23 pm (CNA).

The husband of one of the nearly two dozen victims of a mass shooter in Texas died Thursday, reportedly of a heart attack as he was preparing for his wife’s funeral. 

50-year-old Joe Garcia dropped off flowers at his wife’s memorial on Thursday morning, the New York Times reported. His nephew said that when he returned home, he collapsed.

Joe’s wife, 46-year-old Irma Garcia, was a 4th-grade teacher and one of the two adults killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, by an 18-year-old shooter May 24. The shooter also killed 19 children. 

Garcia reportedly died while trying to protect her students. 

Irma and Joe Garcia.
Irma and Joe Garcia.

Joe and Irma — reportedly high school sweethearts married for 24 years — leave behind four children: 23-year-old Cristian and three teenagers, Jose, Lyliana, and Alysandra.

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio, who told CNA he met with Joe the day of the shooting, offered his condolences and prayers. He said a memorial Mass is set to take place at 6 p.m. CT at Sacred Heart Church in Uvalde, a four-minute drive from the elementary school. 

“We hold in prayer the three children of Irma Garcia, teacher killed in Uvalde,” García-Siller wrote

“Her husband Jose died today of a massive heart attack. Today, Mass at 6pm Sacred Heart Church, Uvalde. We pray for his soul and for their beautiful children. Pain increases so [does] love. Jose, Rest In Peace.”

John Martinez, the 21-year-old nephew of Joe and Irma Garcia, tweeted, “EXTREMELY heartbreaking and come with deep sorrow to say that my Tia Irma’s husband Joe Garcia has passed away due to grief, i truly am at a loss for words for how we are all feeling, PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR FAMILY, God have mercy on us, this isn’t easy.”

García-Siller told CNA on Wednesday that he met with the husband and the couple’s three teenaged children the day of the shooting. The family belonged to the community of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, he said.

“I was able to meet the husband of one of the teachers who was killed, and the two daughters and son,” García-Siller said of Irma Garcia’s family.  

He met with them at the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center, as they waited to hear what had happened to the wife and mother. 

“The husband showed a lot of strength,” he told CNA. The three teenage children, he said at the time, were devastated. 

The Uvalde shooting comes fewer than two weeks after a gunman killed 10 people and injured three others on May 14 at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and another shooter killed one person and wounded five others on May 15 at a church in Laguna Woods, California.

Bishops across the country have responded with prayer and heartbrokenness as did Pope Francis. The U.S. bishops conference released a statement the day of the Uvalde shooting calling for prayer for the victims and wounded, as well as for the Uvalde community.

The incident is believed to be the worst school shooting since the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in which in the attacker killed 26.

Oklahoma City archbishop encourages 'culture of life' after governor signs abortion ban

Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK) attends a roundtable at the White House in Washington, DC June 18, 2020. / Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead (public domain)

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 26, 2022 / 14:14 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City thanked state leaders Wednesday “for supporting pro-life measures” after the governor signed into law the strictest abortion ban in the country.

The Oklahoma law, prohibiting abortion from the moment of conception with few exceptions, comes ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could leave abortion legislation solely up to the states. 

“Building a culture of life in Oklahoma that recognizes the inherent dignity of every person requires the protections afforded by pro-life legislation and a profound change of heart,” Coakley said May 25.

“I encourage Oklahomans to pray for women in crisis pregnancy situations, for their families and loved ones, for families waiting to adopt, for fathers, and for the many pregnancy resource centers serving these brave parents. Thank you to Oklahoma’s legislative leaders and to Gov. Stitt for supporting pro-life measures,” he added.

Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, said after signing H.B. 4327: “From the moment life begins at conception is when we have a responsibility as human beings to do everything we can to protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother. If other states want to pass different laws, that is their right, but in Oklahoma we will always stand up for life.”

The law makes exceptions for abortion to save the life of a pregnant woman as well as for cases of rape or incest reported to law enforcement. 

The legislation also specifies that an act is not defined as an abortion if it is performed with the purpose of saving the life or preserve the health of an unborn child; removing the body of a dead unborn child after miscarriage; or removing an ectopic pregnancy.

Lila Rose, the head of pro-life group Live Action, applauded Stitt for signing “one of the strongest pro-life bills in the country.”

“As of tomorrow,” she tweeted Wednesday night, “every abortion facility in the great state of Oklahoma will be shut down. Thousands of children’s lives will be saved.”

The Oklahoma legislature sent the bill to the governor’s desk following a vote that fell generally along party lines on May 19.

Like the Texas abortion law, this legislation relies on enforcement by private citizens through civil lawsuits that can be brought against anyone who provides abortion or who helps a woman obtain one. 

The law forbids civil action against a pregnant woman seeking an abortion and by anyone who impregnated a woman seeking an abortion through rape, sexual assault, incest, or any other act prohibited by state law.

It does not apply to morning-after pills or emergency contraception.

The law comes as a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft in the abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization suggests that justices are preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. If that happens, abortion legislation could be left up to each individual state.

In Roe v. Wade, the court ruled that states could not ban abortion before viability — the point at which a baby can survive outside the womb — which the court determined to be 24 to 28 weeks into pregnancy. Nearly 20 years later, the court upheld Roe in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The 1992 ruling said that while states could regulate pre-viability abortions, they could not enforce an “undue burden,” defined by the court as “a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”

Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, the subject of the Dobbs case, bans abortion weeks before the point of viability and directly challenges both Roe and Casey.

San Antonio Catholic Charities accepting donations to aid those affected by Texas shooting

Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. / Archdiocese of San Antonio.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 26, 2022 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of San Antonio is offering financial, legal, and counseling services to people affected by the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

The services, which became available May 25, are all being offered for free, according to the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Anyone who is in need of these services should go to or contact Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde.

The Catholic Charities donation page says that “emergency financial assistance” will be provided for “family members who need to travel to Uvalde.” The page says that “all donations will go toward supporting these services.”

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio told CNA Wednesday that Catholic Charities is also planning to use any fundraising to “provide funds for all the funerals.” 

Catholic Charities is accepting donations for its Uvalde Relief fund “to support the many families and individuals affected by this tragedy.” They are also accepting prayer intentions.

In addition, the archdiocese says that a team of priests is available to serve those in need of assistance. 

A gunman killed at least 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, located about 90 miles west of San Antonio, on Tuesday.

In his message announcing the Catholic Charities initiative, Garcia-Siller said that “There are no words to adequately convey the deep sadness, sorrow, and overwhelming shock of the incomprehensible loss of life of 19 children and two adults.” 

“We pray that God comfort and offer compassion to the families of these little ones whose pain is unbearable. They must know that we are with them and for them,” Garcia-Siller said. “May the Lord have mercy on us all.”

Garcia-Siller told CNA that multiple victims were parishioners at Sacred Heart. He also said that many that responded to the shooting are Mass-goers.

The shooting has shaken the country and the world and many have responded with grief and sorrow, including Pope Francis, who said that his heart is “broken for the massacre at the elementary school in Texas.” He added that “I am praying for the children and the adults killed and their families.”

The tragedy comes fewer than two weeks after a gunman killed 10 people and injured three others on May 14 at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and another shooter killed one person and wounded five others on May 15 at a church in Laguna Woods, California.

The recent shootings have also reignited debates about gun control in the United States, with some U.S. bishops chiming in

Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville tweeted May 25, "Don’t tell me that guns aren’t the problem, people are. I’m sick of hearing it. The darkness first takes our children who then kill our children, using the guns that are easier to obtain than aspirin. We sacralize death’s instruments and then are surprised that death uses them."

The spokesperson for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Chieko Noguchi, said in a statement the day of the shooting that “There have been too many school shootings, too much killing of the innocent. Our Catholic faith calls us to pray for those who have died and to bind the wounds of others, and we join our prayers along with the community in Uvalde and Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller.”

"As we do so, each of us also needs to search our souls for ways that we can do more to understand this epidemic of evil and violence," she said, "and implore our elected officials to help us take action."