Listening In: 5 Stories That Lit Up the Internet This Week

Catholic hot takes on the top 5 trends of the week

Sister André Randon
Sister André Randon (photo: Vatican News / Vatican News)

5. As a cruise ship can’t dock, a priest on-board buoys spirits amidst a Coronavirus outbreak scare.

Imagine the panic of being stuck on a cruise ship for more than two weeks—no nearby ports will allow the vessel entry—over fear of the coronavirus. The deadly pandemic, plaguing young and old alike, was potentially aboard the Westerdam

Enter a Catholic priest, a chaplain, who travels aboard the ship to offer passengers the sacraments, now tasked with the heavy duty of trying to keep passengers calm. Part of an American based group that places priests aboard cruise ships, the priest declined to be interviewed, instead focusing his time and attention to his passengers in distress. The chaplain, along with the help of a fellow priest, Father Sinclair Oubre, assigned to the Port of Beaumont, Texas, created a novena using remnants of prayers they found after googling ‘novenas for plagues.’

Thus far, there have been no reports of the virus or other illnesses aboard the Westerdam. And considering the prayers offered for their protection through the intercession of St. Roch, patron saint for those stricken with sickness, thanks be to God for this brave chaplain who became an anchor to so many stranded at sea.

St. Roch, pray for us!


4. Pro-lifers in Virginia March For Life!

Thursday may have been a cold and rainy day in Richmond, Virginia, but that didn’t stop over at least a thousand people from coming out and marching for the unborn. The second annual March for Life Virginia started with a pre-march Mass concelebrated by Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington.

During the homily, Bishop Knestout praised the work of pro-life groups and other individuals “who act with compassion and practical help” to assist those who are grieving.

“As a human and Christian family, we grieve the loss of so many lives,” he said. “And yet, even in our grief, we know there is hope.”

Jeanne Mancini, president of March For Life, was also in attendance, urging Virginians to contact their local and state government as multiple pro-abortion bills are set to be voted upon this year. If passed, these bills will remove Virginia's requirement that only a doctor may perform an abortion, lift the 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, and repeal the law that the mother be provided the following information prior to the termination.

As true feminism has been hijacked by the pro-abortion advocates, we look to our Blessed Mother as we pray for an end to abortion!

 — March for Life (@March_for_Life) February 14, 2020True feminism means defending the rights of all women - born and preborn.


3. Father Hollowell reveals he’s been diagnosed with a brain tumor. 

Father John Hollowell shared some very personal and sad news on social media this week. In December, there was a fear he had suffered a stroke, but a recent trip to the Mayo Clinic revealed that the young priest has a brain tumor. The good news: it’s operable and Father Hollowell hopes to have the mass removed in March.

Father Hollowell, pastor of Annunciation and St Paul's Catholic Churches in Brazil, Indiana, believes this recent diagnosis is a cross he must bear and he plans to offer it up for the victims of clergy sex abuse. In a recent blog, Father Hollowell invites his parishioners and readers to write in the names of victims so that he can pray for all of them during this time.

 — Fr. John Hollowell (@frjohnhollowell) February 13, 2020Friends, I have been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Prognosis is very good.

In 2018 I asked, if it be God’s Will, that I might be given some small share of the Cross to carry for victims of priestly abuse. I embrace this willingly.

More info:

Please keep Father Hollowell in your prayers and if you want to send him a note or share your own experience with clergy sex abuse, please write him. Feel free also send a note of encouragement as he carries this heavy cross.

Prayers up, Father Hollowell!


2. Democratic presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar welcomes pro-lifers to the party.

Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Amy Klobuchar made headlines this week, distancing herself from her colleagues all vying for a place on the 2020 ticket, saying there is indeed room for pro-lifers within the Democratic party. Speaking to Meghan McCain on ABC’s The View, the pro-abortion senator from Minnesota said, “I believe we’re a big-tent party. And there are pro-life Democrats, and they are a part of our party.”

“And I think we need to build a big tent. I think we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out.”

 — ABC News (@ABC) February 11, 2020.@MeghanMcCain on @TheView: “Do you think there’s room for pro-life Democrats to vote for you?”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: “I”m strongly pro-choice. I have always been pro-choice, but I believe we’re a big tent party … I think we need to bring people in …”

Of course, every Democratic contender with their eyes set on the White House supports abortion. Fellow candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said last Saturday that support for abortion “is an absolutely essential part of being a Democrat.”

“By this time in history, I think, when we talk about what a Democrat is, I think being pro-choice is essentially—an essential part of that,” Senator Sanders said.

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has also let it be known that he does not need the support of the pro-life community. When asked by Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats for Life of America, during a town hall Jan. 26 in Iowa, if he wanted the support of pro-life Democrats like her, Buttigieg responded that “I am pro-choice. And I believe that a woman ought to be able to make that decision [on abortion].”

Most extreme in his views, Pete Buttigieg doubled down on his stance on late-term abortion this week when speaking with Meghan McCain on The View. McCain, referencing Virginia governor Ralph Northam’s shocking comments just about a year ago during a radio interview, appearing to discuss what would happen if a child was born after a failed attempt at abortion. He said, “the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, scoffed at the idea and said that “it shouldn’t be up to the government official to draw the line, it should be up to the woman who is confronted with that choice,”

The extreme position, having no limits on abortion whatsoever, led Charles Camosy of Democrats for Life to step down this week from the organization. Camosy wrote a column Feb. 6 in the New York Post, saying, “Anything even hinting that abortion is less than good now violates party orthodoxy.” Camosy added that Buttigieg’s refusal to limit abortion at any point in pregnancy was, for Camosy, “the straw that broke this camel’s back.”

It seems apparent that most Democratic candidates are lock-step with allowing abortion to continue under the guise of women’s health. And of course, with that, the ever lucrative support of Planned Parenthood: The abortion giant just announced last month that they were throwing at least 45 million into the 2020 election.

The union between Democrats and abortion led pro-life actress Patricia Heaton to raise the question on social media:

“Why would any civilized person want to support a barbaric platform that champions abortion for any reason through all nine months funded by taxpayers?”

 — Patricia Heaton (@PatriciaHeaton) February 12, 2020I don’t understand why pro-life people want to know if they are “welcome” to join the democrat party. Why would any civilized person want to support a barbaric platform that champions abortion for any reason through all nine months funded by taxpayers?

I guess one thing we as Catholics can all agree upon, looking at what's at stake this year, now more than ever is the time for prayer.


1. Happy Birthday to the World’s Oldest Nun—and take note of her secret to happiness!

Wishing Sister André Randon (seen in the video at the top of this article) a very happy 116th birthday this week! Born Lucile Randon on Feb. 11, 1904, she converted to Catholicism at the age of 19. Having a genuine desire to help others, she first served young children and the elderly at a French hospital before deciding to join the Daughters of Charity at the age of 40. That may sound somewhat ‘later in life’ but Sister André has had 76 wonderful years in her vocation.

Sister André is currently living in a Sainte-Catherine Labouré retirement community in Toulon. Upon her 115th birthday last year, she received a card from Pope Francis and a blessed rosary that she uses every day.

Sister André recently shared her recipe for a happy life: prayer and a cup of chocolate every day. As a hot cocoa connoisseur myself, I wholeheartedly delight in this advice!