Wish Pope Francis a Happy Birthday!

There is still time to sign the Holy Father's birthday card and give him a gift, too!

12/04/2013 Comments (31)

More than 10,000 people have already signed a special birthday card for Pope Francis.

You can be among the thousands more expected to sign the card and pledge a simple gift for the Holy Father.

Francis celebrates his 77th birthday on Dec. 17, and this four-foot-tall birthday card will be shipped to the Vatican and presented to him in time for his special day.

This card features a large depiction of “Mary, Undoer of Knots,” a painting done in 1700 that moved a priest named Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now the Pope) when he saw it.

Father Bergoglio brought the image to his native Argentina and expanded it into a devotion in the 1980s. He even composed a prayer to Our Lady under the title....READ MORE

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A Million Book FREE Giveaway for Mary

10/16/2013 Comments (10)
Courtesy of the Marians Fathers of the Immaculate Conception

A couple looks over a copy of 33 Dias hacia un Glorioso Amanecer , ready to begin their consecration to Jesus through Mary.

– Courtesy of the Marians Fathers of the Immaculate Conception

One million books to give away for FREE?

This is what happens when the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception in Stockbridge, Mass., take one of the most popular Catholic books of the last two years — 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration by Marian Father Michael Gaitley — and translate it into Spanish.

“Right now, we’re doing one of the largest consecration pushes ever,” Father Gaitley says. “We decided to print a million copies of a magazine version of the book in Spanish and give them away for free.”

Why would the Marians do this?

“Because our mission is to serve the Church where the need is greatest,” says Father...READ MORE

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Best Buddies See a Win in Upcoming Challenge

Group that helps people with Down syndrome fundraises for a worthy cause.

10/05/2013 Comment
Courtesy of Austin Ruse

The Austin Ruse team takes time off their bicycles for a photo at the Best Buddies Challenge in 2012.

– Courtesy of Austin Ruse

Growing up, most of us did some bicycling with our best buddies. Some still do today for a most important and essential cause.

On Oct. 19, Austin Ruse, the president of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), is one of the many people taking to the pavement to ride in the Audi Best Buddies Challenge.

The Best Buddies Challenge is an annual event that raises funds for Best Buddies International, an organization dedicated to helping those with Down syndrome.

The challenge is no cake walk. Ruse and his team will be riding over a 62-mile (100 kilometers) route around Washington, D.C., and into Virginia that includes more than 4,000 feet of mountain climbs. There are also...READ MORE

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St. John Paul II Will Welcome Visitors in South Carolina

09/27/2013 Comments (1)
Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina, Mother of Joyful Hope

Soon-to-be-canonized John Paul II warmly "welcomes" pilgrims and visitors to Our Lady's shrine. Behind the altar is the icon of Our Lady of South Carolina, Mother of Joyful Hope.

– Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina, Mother of Joyful Hope

It’s official. Blessed John Paul II will be canonized on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27, 2014, in Rome.

He is already being commemorated here in the U.S. On the first Saturday in July, saintly John Paul II appeared in South Carolina, in statue form.

There he stands, with that famous smile of his captured so beautifully in a larger-than-life statue at the Shrine of Our Lady of South Carolina, Mother of Joyful Hope.

The statue is so lifelike it even surprises Father Stanley Smolenski, the rector of the shrine in Kingstree, S.C.

“It at first startled me whenever I entered the shrine, since it looked like someone was standing there!” he says, while telling how and why the John Paul II...READ MORE

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Biking for Babies Cycles for Life

Best Year Ever for Culture-of-Life Riders

07/19/2013 Comment
Biking for Babies photo

Biking for Babies team takes five in Memphis. Becker (l) and Schaefer (r) are front and center, kneeling.

– Biking for Babies photo

Biking for Babies was on a roll this summer.

On Saturday afternoon, July 13, a group of 11 bicyclists peddled into Chicago right on schedule, finishing an 1,100-mile trek over eight days through Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois.

Every spin of the tires was meant to raise money for specific pro-life venues and to spread the culture-of-life message.

For this fifth annual fundraising adventure, 11 guys and gals averaged more than 140 miles a day once they took to their bicycles and started from New Orleans on July 6.

In 2012, taking basically the same route, Biking for Babies raised more than $32,000. Among the eight places in as many states that they helped...READ MORE

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New Corpus Christi Rosary Devotion Takes Hold

John Paul II Inspires New Eucharistic-Marian Devotion

06/02/2013 Comments (3)

Our Lady of Joyful Hope

Sunday, June 2, is the feast of Corpus Christi, also called the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Do you know about the Corpus Christi Rosary, a devotion that beautifully brings together Eucharistic meditation and Marian devotion?

The Corpus Christi feast has been around since Sept. 8, 1264, when Urban IV decreed its annual celebration for right after Trinity Sunday.

The Rosary had been revealed to St. Dominic and practiced since early in the same century. But no one tied them together.

Fast-forward to the 20th century and the birth of the Corpus Christi Rosary, when several important events converged.

Father Stanley Smolenski composed this Rosary, centering on five...READ MORE

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Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis and Us

Fatima Is More Important Than Ever

05/13/2013 Comments (7)

As we honor Our Lady of Fatima today, the 96th anniversary of her first appearance to the three children in Portugal, one new and one little-known-but-major fact should give us a real boost to listen to her.

The new fact: Pope Francis requested that Cardinal José Policarpo, the archbishop of Lisbon, consecrate his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima, which the cardinal was going to do at the shrine, along with the Portuguese bishops, at the end of the Mass of the International Anniversary Pilgrimage.

This act of Pope Francis should make us take notice because he’s showing us how important to him the significance of Our Lady of Fatima and her message is in these dire times for peace in...READ MORE

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Walk the Way of the Cross in Different Ways

Divine Mercy Heads the Way

03/13/2013 Comment

For all that’s happening around us in the world, from the Church's papal election to national and international concerns, it’s been easy this Lent for many of us to forget about the Way of the Cross.

But perfectly timed for the rest of Lent comes one of the most beautifully illustrated and thoroughly spiritually-inspiring booklets that I’ve ever seen: Way of the Cross at the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy.

Readers do not just "walk" the 14 Stations in a single way. This prayerful booklet is the first I’ve seen that has two versions of the Way of the Cross, plus a third section of meditations.

The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy...READ MORE

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About Joseph Pronechen

Joseph Pronechen
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Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared regularly in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds BS and MS degrees and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside in Connecticut.