Christmas away from home is a norm for military personnel, inmates, refugees. The Church responds.
Displaced Christians in Irbil, Iraq, describe how the Catholic Church still gives them hope for normalcy during the holidays.
Members of the American military also often spend Christmas away from home. Archbishop Timothy Broglio has a message for them.
A Jesuit chaplain for the U.S. Navy, who has some time available while his ship is sidelined for maintenance, will offer a Christmas Mass for those in Iraq. Nearly 1,000 of the 3,500 U.S. Military personnel serving there are Catholic, but there is no Catholic chaplain assigned to Iraq.
This won’t be Fr. Christopher Fronk’s first time in a war zone at Christmastime. He once was in Afghanistan and offered 15 Masses in three days due to a priest shortage.
“I am very happy to be able to go over and support in this way,” Fr. Fronk said. “There is no greater satisfaction as a priest than to go where the need is greatest and where people are asking you to make the trip. I am happy to go over and support as much as I can for the three weeks I will be in theater.”
In the Diocese of Phoenix, it’s a tradition for Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted to offer Mass at one of the local prison facilities. He will offer a Mass Christmas morning in one of the women’s facilities. Last year, The Catholic Sun reported on a couple from St. Timothy Parish in Mesa who visits a juvenile correctional facility each Christmas.
Andrew estimated half of the 400 boys don’t get visitors that day so the couple brings what little cheer and gifts they can. Socks, shampoo and crossword puzzles are hot items.
“When they get shampoo that smells really good, they’re excited,” Eva said.
Andrew noticed the inmates also appreciate prayer cards year-round. The 13-17-year-olds use toothpaste to “glue” them to the wall.
“The more ornate the card is, the more valuable they are,” he said.
Catholic News Service contributed to this web post.