03 July 2015

Drone Use in Maine River Rescue

"It was Frank Roma's love of Maine's natural beauty that helped rescue a teenager who was trapped in a roiling river in Mechanic Falls on Tuesday.

"Roma, the city's fire chief, was at the Little Androscoggin River, assisting that town's fire and rescue crews. When they puzzled over how to equip the teen with a life jacket, Roma offered up the 'quad-copter' drone that he happened to bring to work that day and still had in his car.

"'I talked to the incident commander and said, 'I can fly a line out to this kid in no time, and we can haul him over a (personal flotation device),' and he said, 'Go ahead.''"

A recent Sun Journal article reported on the use of the drone in this recent rescue operation in Mechanic Falls, ME.

To access the complete Sun Journal report, including Chief Roma's reflections on the use of drones by emergency services, please visit:

Sun Journal: Auburn fire chief drafted drone into duty for river rescue (2 JUL 15)

Background information:

City of Auburn, ME

Town of Mechanic Falls, ME

Wikipedia: Auburn, Maine

Wikipedia: Mechanic Falls, Maine

Thank You, Lord

Thank You, Lord, for the opportunity and grace You give us to express our gratitude to You and to others in our lives.

Cardinal Parolin on the importance of the Encyclical “Laudato si'” in Light of 2015 Major Events

On Thursday (2 July), Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, spoke at the high-level conference "People and planet first: the imperative to change course" (Rome, Augustinianum, 2-3 July), organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and CIDSE, an international network of Catholic non-governmental development organisations.

The theme of the Cardinal's address was "The Importance of the Encyclical Laudato Si' for the Church and the World, in the Light of Major Political Events in 2015 and Beyond." Three key United Nations conferences are scheduled to take place in the second half of 2015: the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13-16 July), the United Nations Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda (New York, NY, USA, 25-27 September), and the Twenty-First Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations framework Convention on Climate Change or COP21 (Paris, France, 30 November-11 December) for the purpose of adopting a new agreement on climate change. Cardinal Parolin affirmed that "the Encyclical will have a certain impact on these events, but its breadth and depth go well beyond its context in time."

The Secretary of State's discourse focused on three sectors to help understand of "Laudato si'" – the international sphere, the national and local sphere, and the sphere of the Church - emphasizing the two pressing requirements relevant to all three, namely "redirecting our steps" and promoting a "culture of care."

In the international framework, he said, there is a need for "an ever greater recognition that 'everything is connected' and that the environment, the earth and the climate are 'a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone'. They are a common and collective good, belonging to all and meant for all, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone. Recognizing these truths is not, however, a foregone conclusion. It calls for a firm commitment to develop an authentic ethics of international relations, one that is genuinely capable of facing up to a variety of issues, such as commercial imbalances, and foreign and ecological debt, which are denounced in the Encyclical."

"Unfortunately, what has prevented the international community from assuming this perspective can be summed up in the following observations of the Pope: its 'failure of conscience and responsibility' and the consequent 'meager awareness of its own limitations'. We live, however, in a context where it is possible to 'leave behind the modern myth of unlimited material progress . . . [and] to devise intelligent ways of directing, developing and limiting our power;' 'we have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology; we can put it at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral'." The Cardinal remarked, "more than once I have had occasion to emphasize how the technological and operative base for promoting such progress is already available or within our reach. We must seize this great opportunity, given the real human capacity to initiate and forge ahead on a genuinely and properly virtuous course, one that irrigates the soil of economic and technological innovation, cultivating three interrelated objectives: to help human dignity flourish, to help eradicate poverty, and to help counter environmental decay."

"The forces at work in the international sphere are not sufficient on their own, however, but must also be focused by a clear national stimulus, according to the principle of subsidiarity. And here we enter into the second area of our reflection, that of national and local action. Laudato Si' shows us that we can do much in this regard, and it offers some examples, such as: 'modifying consumption, developing an economy of waste disposal and recycling . . . [the improvement of] agriculture in poorer regions . . . through investment in rural infrastructures, a better organization of local [and] national markets, systems of irrigation, and the development of techniques of sustainable agriculture,' the promotion of a 'circular model of production,' a clear response to the wasting of food, and the acceleration of an 'energy transition.'" He added, "unfortunately, 'there are too many special interests, and economic interests too easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.'"

The final area considered by the Secretary of State was the Catholic Church, who "finds nourishment in the example of St. Francis who, as indicated from the very opening pages of the Encyclical, 'lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace."

He concluded, "Pope Francis states once again that 'the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics', but seems to be the bearer of the need to question the meaning and purpose of all human activity. What is well-known by now is the Encyclical's call for us to reflect on 'what kind of world we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up.' The answer which the Pope offers to this question is quite revealing: 'When we ask ourselves what kind of world we want to leave behind, we think in the first place of its general direction, its meaning and its values. . . . It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity."

(from the Vatican Information Service).

Background information:

The Vatican: Encyclical Letter Laudato Si' of the Holy Father Francis on Care for Our Common Home

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace


Reflection Starter from 1 Thessalonians

"In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." - 1 Thessalonians 5:18

02 July 2015

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many interesting experiences You offer/give us and for the many ways You touch our lives, and the lives of others, through these experiences.

Walking in the Footsteps of Pope Francis

Is there anyone out there who wouldn't want to get to know Pope Francis a bit better? To know - well, what makes him tick? After all, his view of the papacy seems to be a little different from his predecessors. He's made quite a hit with just about everyone; they like his words, his teachings, his style. Wouldn’t you like to know just some more about him?

So did a group of seminarians from New York, and what's more, they did something about it. They traveled from Douglaston in Queens all the way to Argentina, where the Holy Father is from; to Buenos Aires, the city which he knew so well, the place where he was introduced to the sacraments and ordained a Jesuit priest, and served as bishop before he was elected pope in 2013.

In all, 12 seminarians made the trip, along with the three priests who accompanied them, and to a man they agreed that it was all worth it. As one seminarian put it, "I was reminded all throughout the trip of Pope Francis' call for the church to reach out to those who are most marginalized."

They walked the neighborhoods of Buenos Aires the pope had once known as archbishop; they saw the slums that he knew well; they helped build a church atop what had been a garbage dump. "Working with the local people we were in some way able to meet the pope," said another seminarian. “He was so commonplace, walking the streets, knocking on doors. They knew him very personally. He felt very strongly about the people in those neighborhoods."

Seminarian Steven Gonzalez told Catholic New York's Juliann DosSantos of what was for him a highlight of the trip. "I think that place where I felt really connected to Pope Francis was when we went to the Villas, where the poorest people of Buenos Aires live," he said. "I was so moved by all the people's stories about how the pope had in so many ways touched their lives. We could, in almost a tangible way, feel the pope's enormous impact and presence in that neighborhood."

Another seminarian, Ryan Muldoon, described a visit to what had once been the pope's home parish, Mary Help of Christians. "It's a reminder that Pope Francis, just like all of us, was initiated with the sacraments," he said. "He was baptized in an ordinary parish. He had a particularly graced moment, but sacraments are at the heart of the priestly ministry, and that is a point on which I can relate with him."

Muldoon also mentioned the priests they had met during their February visit, following in one way or another the example set by Pope Francis: "To see the love and devotion of the parish priests and how they live amongst their people and understand the struggles their people are going through, it was a tremendous model of priesthood."

The seminarians kept returning in their comments to the chapel they had helped to build, the one constructed on an old garbage dump. It's located in Villa Soldati, a mission chapel in Immaculate Virgin parish, financed entirely by the people.

"St, Francis said, 'Rebuild my church,' and they really are doing just that," said Muldoon. "It certainly was very moving."

(This essay is a recent "Light One Candle" column, written by Jerry Costello, of The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.)

Background information:

The Christophers

Reflection Starter from Charles Dickens

"Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some." - Charles Dickens

01 July 2015

Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for July

The Holy Father's prayer intentions for July are:

Universal Intention (Politics): “That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.”

Evangelization Intention (The Poor in Latin America): “That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.”