A Grand Gesture
On 11th February, 2013, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, The King of Bahrain, His Majesty Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, in his efforts to support freedom of religion and expression in his country, bestowed a great gift on the Catholic Church - almost 9,000 square meters (2 acres) of land in Awali, Bahrain, to build a new Cathedral. This was breaking news! There was excitement throughout Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait among the Catholic faithful.
Meanwhile, an American national, Mr. Joe Duggan, a fervent Catholic and a strong lover of the Catholic Church got in touch with Bishop Camillo Ballin and made a suggestion about reaching out to the people in the United States for their support towards the Project in Bahrain. He got in touch with many of his friends and one among them was Dr. Robert Royal, the founder and president of the Faith & Reason Institute (Washington, D.C.), editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, a scholar, yet a devout and humble Catholic. Many will remember Dr. Royal on the EWTN panel that covered the recent conclave of the Cardinals for the election of the new Pope. On March 13th when the smoke indicated the new Pope was elected, Dr. Royal was there. The present Pope, formerly, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina was elected by 115 cardinals and took the name FRANCIS.
Dr. Royal, along with his daughter, Mr. Joseph Duggan, his wife and a friend along with Fr. Freddy, Fr. Gaspar, Fr. Ding and Mr. Omar in the presence of Bishop Camillo had a meeting to discuss the various aspects of the Bishop’s trip to the US to gain support for the Project – Cathedral Bahrain. After much deliberation, Dr. Royal and Mr. Duggan took up the task of contacting the respective hierarchy (Cardinals, Nuncios, Archbishops and Bishops, Provincials), prelates, members of the House of Representatives, Order of Malta and Knights of Columbus, Non-Profit Organizations, CNEWA, Church in Need, Media etc. The appointments were coming in and the coordination began. God was guiding us along and opening new avenues. Everything was set. Bishop Camillo flew to the US from Canada on 16th May and Fr. Gaspar Fernandes, a Capuchin, accompanied him.
Thus, the Journey began …
Meeting with the Cardinals:
Bishop Camillo Ballin, had appointments with five Cardinals, beginning with His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington. Bishop Camillo met His Eminence at his humble residence. Both clicked instantly. The Archbishop took a keen interest in the work of evangelization and a new place of worship in Bahrain. His Eminence told Bishop Camillo that he would be at the Georgetown University in Doha in connection with faith and academics for a short while and he would be glad to meet him there. (They met on June 11th at the Rosary Parish Residence in Doha). The Cardinal gave his blessings and said he would certainly help through his friends.
His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington: His Eminence was gracious, kind and encouraging. He advised the Bishop to write to The Papal Foundation and said he would support the request made for the new Cathedral in Bahrain. He also welcomed the idea for mission appeal in his diocese.
His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York: Bishop Camillo was invited to concelebrate along with His Eminence at the Eucharist. It was a lovely sacrifice at the Cathedral of St. Patrick in the heart of Manhattan. Bishop Camillo was invited to breakfast at His Eminence’s residence, where Bishop Camillo presented his request and sought his advice and support on the new place of worship at Bahrain and his intervention through CNEWA to support us in whatever way possible.
His Eminence Sean Patrick Cardinal O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston: The scars of the Boston bombings were still fresh in the minds of the people and Bishop Camillo prayed for the victims as he was driven through the city by a Capuchin Friar, Br. Celestino. Bishop Camillo met His Eminence Cardinal Sean O’Malley, a simple Capuchin Franciscan at his ordinary residence. He was cordial and very attentively listened to Bishop Camillo’s struggles and his request for help for the new place of worship. The Cardinal assured his support and help. Cardinal O’Malley has been named one of the Cardinals to be part of the Committee to reform the Curia at the Vatican.
His Eminence Daniel Nicholas Cardinal Di Nardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas: His Eminence was happy to welcome Bishop Camillo and he was very excited to hear about the missionary work taking place in the Middle East. Both instantly connected. The Cardinal promised to be of some help in the days to come.
Meeting with the Nuncios:
Bishop Camillo met the two Apostolic Nuncios: Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, His Grace Archbishop Carlo Vigano at Washington DC, and also the Apostolic Nuncio to the United Nations, His Grace Archbishop Francis Chullikattat at New York. Both the Nuncios were very encouraging and supportive towards the project of the new Cathedral and promised to forward our appeal to their friends. Bishop Camillo thanked them and requested them to pray for the success of the project.
Meeting with the Archbishops and Bishops:
His Grace Archbishop Lori invited Bishop Camillo over to Baltimore. They had a fruitful exchange of views and discussed the purpose of Bishop Camillo’s visit to raise funds for the new Cathedral. Archbishop Lori was extremely kind, supportive and obliging. The Archdiocese of Military Services, USA, His Grace Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, invited Bishop Camillo over for lunch and had a personal meeting, basically speaking about the troops serving in the Vicariate of Northern Arabia, how he could be of assistance to them, however the project for the New Cathedral was also discussed.
Bishop Camillo met H.E. Most Rev. Loverde, Bishop of Arlington, H. E. Most Rev. David J. Malloy, Bishop of Rockford, H. E. Most Rev. Daniel Jenky, Bishop of Peoria, and H. E. Most Rev. John Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield. All of them were supportive and encouraged the Bishop in his new venture. They did promise some help and welcomed Bishop Camillo to send clergy for mission appeals to their dioceses.
Meeting with the Members of the House of Representatives at Washington DC:
Dr. Robert Royal coordinated with Chief of Staff, Oliver Schwab, who is working for Congressman David Schweikert, 5th District, Arizona. Through Mr. Oliver, we were given a tour of the US Capitol Building. It was interesting to learn about the history, art and architecture of this famous structure. Bishop Camillo met several Congressmen and had a word with them about the Vicariate of Northern Arabia and his new project in Bahrain. Every one of them was interested and gave time to listen to Bishop Camillo.
The following were the Congressmen the Bishop met:
-- Rep. Dave Camp, Michigan
-- Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, Arizona
-- Reps. Sean Duffy & Jim Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin
-- Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, Nebraska
-- Rep. Patrick McHenry, North Carolina
-- Rep. Michelle Bachmann, Minnesota
-- Rep. Greg Walden, Oregon
-- Rep. Mark Sanford, South Carolina
-- Rep. David Schweikert, Arizona
-- Rep. KyrstenSinema, Arizona
-- Rep. John Shimkus, Illinois
-- Rep. Mick Mulvaney, South Carolina
-- Rep. Dale Kildee, Michigan
-- Rep. Jim Himes, Connecticut
-- Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick & David Schweikert
-- Rep. Dan Lipinski, Illinois
-- Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin
-- Rep. Adam Smith, Washington
-- Rep. Randy Hultgren, Illinois
-- Rep. Mike Kelly, Pennsylvania
Well-wishers - Kent Hill, Michele Bowe and Dr. Robert Royal were also present to know about the mission in the Middle East.
At Illinois, Bishop Camillo was invited to begin the General Assembly session with a prayer. He led the members into prayer and a young Congressman, Tom Demmner, offered him a certificate of appreciation for gracing the occasion. It was one of those deep spiritual moments to see the Bishop in prayer before those people in command. God bless them all.
Interest of the Media:
The media was also briefed about the Bishop’s visit. The interview conducted by Adelaide Mena for CNS (Catholic News Agency) was published within 5 days. Please click here for the report: www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/church-in-northern-arabia-longs-for-place-to-worship.
Mr. David Mills, Executive Editor of The First Things, a widely circulated magazine, was there to know more about Bishop Camillo and his mission. Thomas McArdle, Senior Writer, Investor's Business Daily invited the Bishop to his office to know more about his mission. He was very supportive and assured that he would help spread the news about the project in Bahrain.
Non- Profit / Funding Organization:
The Bishop met the representatives of well-known humanitarian groups like Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), Propaganda Fide, Church in Need, The Papal Foundation, Knights and Dames of Malta and Knights and Dames of Columbus groups, Capuchin Mission and Comboni Mission that have been doing incredible work for centuries to help the poor and the needy. They have been also been funding the building of new churches and restoration work. Bishop has made a request to them all to help him in building the new Cathedral in Bahrain. All were optimistic and encouraging. Bishop was grateful to them for having given their valuable time to learn more about the project.
IWP Institute of World Politics: The Founder and President John Lenczowski, and Tricia Morrin Lloyd, Vice President for Institutional Advancement invited Bishop Camillo to give a talk on his mission and project. There were young students who were keen and interested and asked several questions and were amazed too. Bishop answered their questions and invited them to write to him. The students were very supportive and resourceful in spreading the word around.
Aid to the Church in Need:
The Bishop requested Aid to the Church in Need, which is a charitable organization, to help the Vicariate of Northern Arabia. They were kind enough to give a green signal to help us in the States. All the funds that will come in from the US will have to be wired through Church in Need to get the benefit of the tax exemption to the donors. They volunteered to help organize the next visit of Bishop Camillo to the US. We are extremely grateful to Church in Need for their valuable support, especially to Mr. Sarkis Boghjalian (National Director of Aid to the Church in Need) and to Mr. Edward Clancy (Asst. National Director).
Aid to the Church in Need USA, a papal charity for the suffering and persecuted church, has agreed to support the pastoral work of our Apostolic Vicariate in Northern Arabia.
If you wish to support our pastoral work and the building of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia in Bahrain, please send your donations to Aid to the Church in Need --725 Leonard Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222, www.acnusa.org, and please use this code EV1303 to allow proper tracking of donations.
Aid to the Church in Need is a registered public charity in the United States with EIN #86-1089466. All donations are tax deductible as permitted by law. Your gift acknowledgment for tax purposes will be issued from Aid to the Church in Need -- 725 Leonard Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222, www.acnusa.org. If you have any questions about your gift, kindly contact Edward Clancy at 718-309-0939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be assured that one hundred percent of your donations will be applied to the pastoral work and the building of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia.
Moments of Faith:
We were even blessed to hear testimonies of miracles on our trip! Elisa and John Aglieco had this testimony to share with us of their little son, Cassian, which shows how God intervenes in the lives of people. (Photos of Cassian can be found in the Album below).
"Our little miracle baby’s story started with an uncertain diagnosis. Half way through the pregnancy we were shown an ultrasound that showed his skull was not properly forming in the back of his head and there was quite a large space where his brain should have been. While the doctor was looking at these anomalies, he noticed there was a problem with his heart. The cardiologist let us know that our little guy had a heart that was not forming properly either, two rather large holes in his heart. Through the prayers of many across the United States, we were blessed with a miracle. Within four weeks, we went back for further testing and the skull was closed, the holes in his heart had not entirely disappeared but were closing. By the time little Cassian was born, his brain and head were fully developed and the holes in his heart were so tiny that the doctor couldn’t hear a problem! God is so good. He sent so many people to pray with us and for us! The number of people who sacrificed for our baby, who fasted and prayed for him, it was all an amazing testament to God’s great goodness and mercy. We are doubly blessed with a healthy boy and a deeper sense of gratitude."
Mary Barnes who escorted Bishop Camillo, writes: Houston was honoured by the presence of Bishop Camillo, Apostolic Vicar of Northern Arabia. Bishop Camillo made a quick trip there during his first trip to the United States.
The Bishop was met at Houston’s Hobby Airport by the Barnes family on Sunday, June 2, 2013 and escorted to a buffet brunch at Americas Restaurant that had been arranged for him by the Hickmans.
There Bishop Camillo also met with members of the Hust family, who hosted him overnight at their lovely home, as well as the Masterson family. These individuals are all actively involved in numerous Catholic organizations, both in the United States and abroad. They were most interested to learn what the Bishop had to share about the Church in the Gulf Region, and the plans for the erection of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia. They were also delighted to learn that Bishop Camillo enjoyed his introduction to the American tradition of "brunch," a week-end meal that is served late morning/early afternoon and includes both breakfast and luncheon dishes.
After brunch, we were honoured to participate in the Mass that Bishop Camillo celebrated at the Hust home. That evening, Houston’s Knights and Dames of Malta held a reception honouring Bishop Camillo at Lakeside Country Club. This event was organized by Federal Association Hospitaler Robert Signorelli and his wife. They had the support of a Host Committee of local Knights and Dames. Again, Bishop Camillo enlightened all to the challenges facing our Christian brothers and sisters in the Gulf Region.
Next morning, the Barnes and Hust families were privileged once again to participate in the Mass with Bishop Camillo at the Hust home. The Barneses then escorted the Bishop to breakfast at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Houston with H.E. Ambassador Chase Untermeyer, former US Ambassador to Qatar, and his wife.
Following an informative exchange and pleasant time together, the Barneses escorted the Bishop to the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, where for an hour Bishop Camillo met privately with His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston.
After this meeting, Bishop Camillo was given a brief tour of the co-cathedral in Houston, before being escorted to the airport for his flight back to New York City.
Our Special Gratitude:
The Lord sent us many angels on our Mission Trail who helped us to organize, coordinate the whole trip. They were there to accommodate us, to drive us around, to guide, help and support us, and to make us feel at home:
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajic (Apostolic Nuncio to Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE and Yemen)
Mr. Joseph Duggan, instrumental in getting appointments and make arrangements for Bishop Camillo.
Dr. Robert Royal, he left no stone unturned to make sure that Bishop Camillo met the right people, to help him find listeners, and people of interest to muster support for the Vicariate of Northern Arabia.
Mr. Sarkis Boghjalian (National Director of Aid to the Church in Need, who sponsored our trip to the US and took good care of the Bishop and his assistant).
Mr. Edward Clancy (Assistant National Director, always made himself available and drove us around the city – a wonderful gentleman)
Mr. Austin Quick (A veteran who served in the army and was way back based in Kuwait, a friend of Bishop Camillo. He is now the Chief of Staff for the Congressman Tom Demmer (Illinois) – He was with us for 10 days driving us around and being with us, a multifaceted personality, a jovial and devout Catholic – a very generous and kind person)
In New York: Pastor Rev. Jesus Cuadros (St. Thomas Aquinas, Brooklyn), Rev. Fr. Luis (friend of Bishop Camillo who is serving in Miami), Mr and Mrs. Cristela and family, Pastor Rev. Luigi Zanotto, MCCJ (St. Lucy, Newark), Rev. Fr. Paul Donohue MCCJ, Rev. Provvido Crozzoletto, MCCJ, and Rev. Brian Quigley, MCCJ (Mission Director), Rev. Francis Gasparik, capuchin Provincial, The Guardian and the community (St. John the Baptist, New York), Rev. Gerald Mulvey, Capuchin, Rev. Arun Lobo, Capuchin.
In Washington DC: Rev. David Nestler, Capuchin Provincial, Rev. Bob Toomey, OFM. Cap, Rev. Paul Dressler, OFM Cap, Rev. Anil Gonsalves, OFM Cap, Mrs Tricia Lloyd and her husband, Mrs Elisa Aglieco (Assistant to the Chaplain US House of Representatives) and family, Mrs, Jeanne Allen, Rev. Peter Vaghi (Pastor – Little Flower Parish, Maryland), Mr. Oliver Schwab (Chief of Staff for Congressman David Schweikert)
In Chicago: The Clergy at Newman Catholic Student Center- Iowa , The Fransciscan Nuns - Peoria), Congressman Tom Demmer, Congressman Bobby Schilling and friends, Rev. F. Angelo Biancalana MCCJ, Rev. Peter Premarini MCCJ, Rev. Fr. Joseph Garcaoviedo, MCCJ, Pastor Fr. Logan (St. Pius X – Rock Island, IL)
In Boston: Rev. David Couturier, OFM Cap, Guardian, Rev. Tino Arias, Mission Director.
In Houston- Texas: John and Mary Barnes & family, Chari Hust and family, Darla Hickman and family and Knights and Dames of Malta organization in Houston.
Benefactors and Donors for their contributions.
A very special thanks to the Comboni Missionaries in the US (Newark and Illinois) for their generosity and kindness. A special word of thanks to Rev. Brian Quigley, MCCJ (Mission Director).
The Comboni - North American Province report can be read here:
Our journey to the US was a great success! Bishop Camillo made a lot of friends and benefactors too. He won the hearts of the listeners and above all, blessed and thanked the people of America for their generosity and hospitality!
Until next time, please do remember to pray for us and for our new Cathedral Project in Bahrain. God bless all!
---- Report by a Capuchin Brother
THE BISHOP SPEAKS ...
His Lordship Bishop Camillo Ballin, mccj, speaks about
his trip and appeal for the Cathedral in Bahrain.
Your Lordship, what was the focus of your trip to the United States?
The focus of my trip was to establish some contacts with the people there. It was my first visit to the US, so it was a totally new experience for me. Thanks to many collaborators, and especially Fr. Gaspar, I could meet many Cardinals, Bishops, politicians and others.
What kind of support are you looking for?
We are in need of financial support for the construction of the new Cathedral in Bahrain. The cost estimate is rather steep and though our faithful of AVONA are very generous, we would not be able to meet the expense of such a huge project on our own.
Will you be collaborating with other organizations to promote the campaign?
Yes, we need the help of everyone! I have to knock on all the doors. The Pontifical Organization "Aid to the Church in Need" has shown interest and a willingness to help us in raising funds for our project.
What impact did this trip to the US have on you personally?
As I said, this was my first visit and I am happy to say that I made many friends and I could see that the Americans are good people. They are sincere about helping. I had a very good experience on the whole.
How can the faithful of AVONA participate more actively? What is being done in our parishes to create awareness of the campaign and raise funds?
Fr. Gaspar Fernandes, OFM Cap., is officially in charge of raising funds within the Vicariate. With the collaboration of all the priests, he has already carried out some good initiatives by inviting every Catholic family in Kuwait to donate 1 KD per month for a period of 12 months. He also plans to organize other fund-raising events such as social gatherings, fetes, etc.
In Qatar, a fund-raising committee has been set up for the new Cathedral. A special word of praise has to be given to the Malayalee community in Bahrain. They are working very well.
Are you pleased with the response from our faithful?
Our faithful have been always very generous. So, I am happy with their response. In some parishes some communities have not yet responded. I hope they will respond soon.
Your Lordship, when do you expect to lay the foundation stone of the new Cathedral?
A lot depends on the resources that we shall have at our disposal for the project. I do not want to start and stop mid-way because of lack of funds. Much remains to be done. We have to finalize the design, lay the ground plans for the electricity and water supply and then submit everything to the municipality for their approval.
It is my desire to lay the foundation stone on 13th May 2014. Since, we received the land for the Cathedral on 11th February, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, I would like to mark the occasion on another Feast of the Virgin Mary. 13th of May is the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima and as such I want to proceed with the calendar of the Virgin Mary. Our Cathedral in Bahrain will be dedicated to Our Lady of Arabia. She is our Mother and will never abandon us. As she gave us the land, I have faith that she will also provide the money that we need to build her Cathedral!