Praying with the Book of Psalms will bring comfort, happiness, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- There is a prayer for every state of mind and spiritual need in the Book of Psalms, Pope Francis said. "There are many psalms that help us forge ahead. Get into the habit of praying the psalms. I assure you that you will be happy in the end," the pope said during his June 19 general audience. The pope also reminded people that June 20 marks World Refugee Day, established by the United Nations to focus on solidarity with refugees. "We are all called to welcome, promote, accompany and integrate those who knock on our doors," he said.

Pope donates ambulance, opens rehabilitation center in Ukraine

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis blessed an ambulance filled with medicine and first-aid equipment that will travel some 1,800 miles from the Vatican to support those wounded in Ukraine. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, papal almoner, will make his eighth trip into Ukraine to donate the ambulance and medical supplies to a hospital in the country's Ternopil region, the Dicastery for the Charity Services announced June 24. The dicastery's statement was accompanied by a picture of Pope Francis blessing the ambulance.

St. Anthony’s is a miracle: the dedication of a new church 

Joyous anticipation filled the air at St. Anthony Mission in Sacaton, Ariz., in the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC). This past Sunday, the community gathered in their temporary building that had been used to celebrate Mass the last 20 years. This past Sunday, the community didn’t gather there for Mass but instead to process to the new St. Anthony Mission. The historic mission, which has been a staple in the community for generations, burned in January 2000 due to arson. This past Sunday was the culmination of years of prayers, asking God to provide the means for a new mission church, and now, the prayers had been answered.

Hope in the face of hardship: St. Anthony Mission

It was in January 2000 when St. Anthony Mission Church in Sacaton, Ariz., on the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) went up in flames. The community would soon learn that the cause of the fire was arson. Carol Jackson, a parishioner, grew up on the reservation and was in a building next door the night of the fire. “I saw smoke…Everybody rushed over there. We stayed there with the church and watched it. Everybody was crying.” Smoke lingered in the air the next morning when the fire department investigated the interior and pulled out vestments that were completely untouched as well as a glass container of holy water. After the building cooled off, Jackson went inside as the fire department dismantled the tabernacle and pried it off, revealing an interesting burn mark on the wall. 

First Juneteenth Mass reinforces Catholic value of freedom for all

For the first time in the Diocese of Phoenix, Catholics celebrated Juneteenth — the commemoration of when the last slaves were freed following the Civil War — at St. Josephine Bakhita Mission Parish in Phoenix on June 19. Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, freeing all slaves within those states that had seceded, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, at the end of the war, when Major General Gordon Granger and the Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce it, thus freeing the last of the slaves in the former Confederate States. Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, has been celebrated since 1866 but it wasn’t recognized as a federal holiday until President Joe Biden signed it into law in 2021. 

‘LIKE COMING HOME AGAIN:’ After nearly 25 years, St. Anthony has a church again

SACATON, Ariz. – When fire destroyed St. Anthony Mission Church in 2000, it prompted the Diocese of Phoenix’s vicar for Native American Ministries at the time, Fr. John Hall, to voice a theme Catholics hear often. “The building was not the community,” he said, referring to the Church as the body of Christ; its people, not the structure in which they worship. Still, in this part of the Gila River Indian Community, where physical amenities are farther between and resources fewer than those in the non-Native world, St. Anthony was as big a part of the lives of believers as any other local place. 

Worship nights unite adults in community

The bass guitar vibrations shake the walls. Rows of chairs along a center aisle are filled at a valley parish every first Friday. Some people are sitting, some kneeling, and some standing. Others are found sitting crisscrossed before the altar gazing at the Beloved in the monstrance. While others take a posture of surrender and lie prostate in front of Jesus. Some cry, overwhelmed with joy and consolation. Others sit in serene peace, others stand with their hands raised up in front of them showing praise to the King. Some line up against a wall waiting for the sacrament of Confession. The Lord is filling them, filling their need. 

Phoenix gears up for annual John Paul II Classic: A night of faith, family...

The stage is set for the annual John Paul II (JPII) Classic, where priests and seminarians from the Diocese of Phoenix will go head-to-head in a friendly yet spirited basketball matchup. Slated for Friday, August 2, at Brophy College Preparatory (BPC) in Phoenix, this event has become a cornerstone of the Phoenix Catholic community, celebrating unity and faith. Fr. Matthew Lowry, episcopal vicar of the North and director of the Northern Arizona University Newman Center in Flagstaff, Ariz., has played in every JPII Classic since the inaugural tip-off in 2015.

Modern martyrs are seeds of Christian witness in the church, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Condemning the killing of Christians in Congo, Pope Francis said the sacrifices of modern martyrs are seeds that grow into examples of Christian witness for the church. After praying the Angelus in St. Peter's Square June 16, the pope referenced the "painful news" of violence in eastern Congo where over 120 people were reported to have been killed by suspected Islamist rebels in recent weeks. Local officials have said the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group affiliated to the Islamic State, were responsible for the attacks.

Angels or aliens? Some researchers say Vatican archives hold UFO secrets

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A group of scientists and researchers are seeking access to the Vatican Apostolic Archives to uncover information about UFOs and the paranormal, believing there may be traces amid the 50 miles of shelves holding everything from handwritten papal notes to presidential missives. The decades-long effort gained momentum in 2023 following former U.S. intelligence official David Grusch's congressional testimony alleging the Vatican's involvement in an international cover-up of alien secrets. Grusch claimed Pope Pius XII "backchanneled" information to the United States about a crashed UFO recovered by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.