The woman was only twenty years old and was dying of Septicemia (blood poisoning). It was October 25, 2008, and on that day, her baby had already been lost, and Lucia Lomokol, seemed destined to follow her child in death. All means known to the doctors to reverse Lucia’s condition had failed, and there was no hope to save her.
Doctor Eric Dominic, a physician from Turin, reached into his pocket and pulled out a small prayer card. It was the holy card of Servant of God, Father Giuseppe Ambrosili. Doctor Dominic placed the holy card on Lucia’s pillow and asked the young woman’s relatives and all else who were present to pray to Father Guiseppe for Lucia’s recovery. They all did as requested, and the next morning, Lucia Lomokol was alive, well, and her infection was gone. No one thought such a thing was possible.
Giuseppe Ambrosili was born on July 25, 1923, in Ronago, Italy, a small town in northern Italy five miles from the Swiss border. He was the seventh son of Giovanni Ambrosili and Palmira Valli. Guiseppe did well in grade school and went to high school in nearby Como, Italy. In 1942, after finishing high school, he moved on and attended the College of Milan, but World War II disrupted his studies.
He became part of the Italian underground, and in 1943 he pledged to help save as many Jewish people. Giuseppe and others worked clandestinely to hide them and get them safe passage to the Swiss border. The alternative for them was the concentration camp. If Giuseppe or his cohorts had been caught it would have meant their immediate execution.
Giuseppe did survive the war. His ultimate calling had always been to the priesthood, but in 1946, he returned to the College of Milan. On July 28, 1949, he was awarded a degree as a Doctor of Medicine. Giuseppe then headed home to the seminary located in Venegona (also in northern Italy) to study to receive Holy Orders. He was ordained a priest on December 17, 1955. The Archbishop of Milan presiding over his ordination was Archbishop Giovanni Montini, who would become Pope St. Paul VI.
He was now a priest who had also been schooled in medicine and surgery. He then moved on to get a Tropical Medicine Diploma with the goal of eventually tending to the poor and deprived in Africa. Upon completion of his training, he announced to his mother and the rest of his family that his ultimate calling was to be a missionary. He told them, “God is love, they are suffering neighbors, and I am their servant.”
He became part of the Congregation of the Comboni Missionaries, and in 1956 he left for Africa. He was sent to a small village in a town called Kalongo. This was located in northern Uganda, and he was put in charge of the medical dispensary at the outpost. He would remain at this place for the next 32 years.
During Father Giuseppe’s tenure at the dispensary, he transformed it into the Kalongo Hospital. Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) was quite prevalent at the time, and the lepers were kept isolated in a place called the “leprosarium.” Care at these places was of poor quality, so Father Giuseppe began the “St. Mary’s School of Midwifery” training Ugandans to be the caregivers of the lepers.
Father Giuseppe transformed the methods for leprosy care. The first thing he did was acknowledge those with leprosy were, foremost, people with an illness. These people deserved the same dignity and treatment as all others. Then he incorporated the ‘leprosarium” into being part of the hospital. The lepers became patients like all the other patients, and Father made sure they were treated as such.
In February of 1987 an insurrection erupted in Uganda, and Father Giuseppe and his hospital had to be evacuated. The hospital was burned to the ground by the insurrectionists. The humble priest, who only wanted “to be His servant for people suffering,” died March 27, 1987, at the Camboni Mission in Lira. The cause of death was kidney failure. (A little bit of “heartbreak” probably was also involved).
Today the Kalongo Hospital is called the Dr. Ambrosili Memorial Hospital. It has 350 beds and treats more than 60,000 people a year. He is remembered in Uganda as the “Doctor of Charity.”
Giuseppe Ambrosoli was elevated to the rank of Venerable on December 17, 2015, by Pope Francis. On November 28,2019, the Holy Father attributed the recovery of Lucia Lomokol, to the intervention of Giuseppe Ambrosoli. He will be beatified sometime in 2020 to the rank of the “Blessed.”
It was 6:00 A.M., and she was exhausted. She stood there, unblinking, looking into the mirror at the person staring back at her. Running her hands through her tousled, just-got-out-of-bed hair, she sighed deeply. She leaned forward, stared some more, and said to herself, “Oh my God, Sharon, you look just awful.”
She had to leave by 6:30, so she hurriedly washed her face, brushed her teeth, and tried to create some order with her hair. She had worked twenty-two days straight since Thanksgiving, and today would be the last day before the holiday. It was Christmas Eve, and there was still much to do, including getting a Christmas tree.
As Sharon, a meter reader and installer for the local utility company, pulled on her work shoes, a soft voice came from behind. It was her youngest, five-year-old Joey. She turned, and he said, “Mommy, Santa can’t come here tonight.”
She was somewhat stunned by the unexpected comment. “Joey, why would you think that. Of course, he can come here.”
“But we have no Christmas tree. Can’t you stay home from work and get us a tree?”
They had kept asking, and she had kept promising, and it was always “later” or “tomorrow,” and now, just like that, time was up. She turned and held out her arms to her boy. “Come over here, “ she said.
He ran over, and she hugged him. She looked into his nervous eyes and said, “Don’t worry Joey, I only have to work a little while today, and then I will get the tree. I will have it when I get home from work. Then we will all decorate it, and Santa will have a tree to put the toys under. Don’t worry.”
Oozing innocence, he simply looked at her and believed it would be so. “Okay, mommy.”
She stood up and said, “C’mon, sweetie. Let’s get you back in bed. I will tell April you are awake.”
“No need, mom. I’m up. C’mon with me, Joey. We can watch some TV.”
It was her twelve-year-old son, Alvin. She turned and smiled at him. “Thanks, hon. They promised us we would be home early. Say a prayer it actually happens.”
“Mom, what about a tree?”
“Alvin, I know, I know. I promised Joey, and I promise you, we will have a tree. Don’t worry. These last 20 days just seem to have run together, and—don’t worry, we will have a tree.”
It was about 6:50 when she pulled into the loading dock area to pick up her assignments and needed materials. The parking lot was already empty of the work trucks as all the crews had left for their assigned destinations. Sitting in her vehicle, she took out her Rosary and held it tightly. A “single” mom and devout Catholic, prayers had brought her through some, lonely, harsh and scary days after her husband had walked away from her and the children. She blessed herself and began to pray.
She was quietly asking the Blessed Virgin to allow Christmas Eve to go smoothly and for her to be able to get a tree when a tap on her window startled her. She turned to see her field supervisor, Herb Guerin, standing there. She rolled down the window, “Hi Herb, what do you have for me today?”
“Here you go, Sharon.” As he handed her the work orders he said, “I’m sorry, but I have to dump two more on you. They just came in but they are right next to each other, so it should go quick.”
“Please, Herb, I still have to get a Christmas tree. Can’t you get someone else? My five-year-old is thinking that Santa won’t come to our house. I have to get a tree.”
“Look, I understand. But this is about five minutes away from where you are going. A transformer blew up, and 1400 homes are without power. That could be more than 4000 people. It is Christmas Eve, and they need their power. The line crew is on-site but there are two new meters we need installed. You should be able to squeeze that in, don’t you think? Those people are counting on us to get their power on.”
“Okay, Herb, okay. What are the addresses?” He handed her the add-ons, and they wished each other Merry Christmas. She drove away, fingering her rosary beads. That proved more soothing for her than a cup of morning coffee.
Sharon had finished her regular assignments by noon and it should have been the end of her workday. But, as is the way of things, the transformer was not delivered until 2:00 .P.M and she could not install the new meters until after the transformer was replaced. It was 4:00 P.M.when she finally started for home.
Heading home, she kept looking for Christmas trees for sale. Even the seasonal tree lots that sold trees every year were empty. She had been confident that she would find a tree quickly. Now her confidence was being shattered. There were no trees anywhere. She thought a moment and then prayed, St. Anthony, please help me find a tree for my kids?”
Sharon did not plan to go home until she had found a tree. But she had not eaten, she felt sick to her stomach and needed to stop by the house which was only five minutes away. She thought she could just run inside, use the bathroom and simply “chill” for a few minutes. She looked at the clock; it read 5:35. A shiver ran down her spine.
She stepped from her van as Joey came running out of the house, “Hi Mommy, did you get our tree? Did you? Where is the tree? Where is the tree? You got the tree, right?”
Sharon took a deep breath and knew she should have found a tree before coming home. Looking upwards, she quickly and quietly prayed, “Dear God, I need Your help. Please.”
Just like that, April, who was 14, Alvin, 12, and Austin, eight, were standing in front of her. Joey was in front of them. All she could see were four sets of insecure and nervous eyes looking at her. A sudden blanket of fear seemed to come out of nowhere and grab hold of her. Oh my God, I do not know if I can do this. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I need your help. Tears came to her eyes.
April quickly went to her mom and gave her a hug. She said, “Mom, it’s okay. Don’t worry.”
Then Alvin was standing next to her, and Austin and then Joey was hugging her leg and she felt the love of her children and blurted out, “Okay, listen to me. I did not get the tree yet. I just needed to get a drink and use the bathroom. Then I will go get it. Alvin, can you come with me to help?
“Why should Alvin get to go?” Austin asked. “Why can’t we all go?”
“Yes, yes, yes,” said April, “All of us should go. It will be all of us finding our family Christmas Tree.”
Sharon looked at the four of them and was suddenly buoyed with a sense of “Christmas.” Everything was feeling right. She had been slowly buying and hiding things since July. Toys and other gifts were in the back of her work truck, and more were stashed in the shed in the back yard. (The kids never let on that they knew). “Okay,” she said. “Let’s get in the car and go find a tree.”
They piled into their fourteen-year-old 1988 Chevy Corsica, and Sharon headed toward Washington Ave. Her children had no idea how tired and worn out their mom was. Well, why would they; their Mom was not like other people; she was MOM. Being up since 6:00 A.M., not eating all day except for some stale chocolate chip cookies and two containers of coffee, was not something that could stop their Mom. That possibility was never considered. They did not grasp that it was she who was hungry, tired, and feeling a bit weak. She said, “I hope we can find a tree quickly. You kids must be starving.” Things were never about her.
They were all focused on a tree, not food. Alvin said, “ We can eat later, mom. Let’s check Walmart first; they have tons of trees.”
Sharon sighed and made a quick left onto Highway 19 N. They pulled into Walmart’s parking lot five minutes later. The store was just closing. They drove over to the nursery and found out there were no trees left. Al tried to run into the store to look for an artificial tree, but the doors were already locked.
Sharon said, “There is a Christmas tree lot over on Belcher Rd. They might have something.”
That lot was empty, and the search continued, from supermarket to supermarket, to home-improvement centers and to discount outlets, to nurseries, and even looking outside convenient stores. Sharon was now driving and not thinking. They had searched for a tree for over two hours, finding more than a dozen places that sold trees but now had none. It was now almost eight o’clock.
She was feeling a sense of despair. It was dark, and most stores had already closed. April suddenly blurted out, “Hey Mom, there is the Burger Barn. Can we get something to eat? I’m starving.”
They all chimed in, “yeah, mom—c’mon Mom—we’re starving, Mom!” Sharon knew that sitting in the car with the four kids eating cheeseburgers, fries, and holding drinks would be a disaster. “Okay, stop yelling; I can hear you. But there is no way we eat in the car. Lets park and go inside. We need a break anyway.”
As they walked toward the entrance, Austin said, “Mom, we just better face it. We ain’t gonna find a tree. It’s too late. They’re all gone.”
“Stop it, Austin, have some faith. As soon as we sit down, we will all say a Hail Mary together and ask our Mother Mary to help us find one. And you watch, she WILL help us find one.”
They walked inside, found an empty table, and sat down. Sharon’s faith had helped her through incredibly difficult times, and she was about to call on it again. She reached out her hands, and they all followed her lead holding each other’s hands. Bowing their heads, they prayed a Hail Mary together. When they finished, Sharon and Alvin headed to the counter to get their food.
The impromptu Burger Barn “dinner” went reasonably well. The order came out quickly, nothing was dropped or spilled, and, to top it off, everyone was quiet as they devoured their food. After spending a calm and pleasant fifteen minutes, it was time to find their tree.
As they stood up to leave, an old man, disheveled and dirty, approached them. Nervously, the man said, “Excuse me, ma’am. I think I can help you.”
Sharon had watched as he approached and haltingly said, ‘Huh…help me? What do you mean? We are fine. We do not need any help. Please, we have to go.” She turned to her nervous children and said, “Okay kids, it’s time to leave. Let’s go.”
“Ma’am, please, don’t be afraid. I watched you and your children praying and it was a beautiful thing. And— I heard your boy say you needed a tree. I can help you.”
“How can you help us? I suppose you know where a tree is?” Sharon asked.
“Yes, I do,” said the man. “But you have to trust me and follow me. I will take you to it.”
“Follow you? We don’t even know you. Why should we follow a complete stranger to an unknown place? I have my children with me. Look sir, I’m sure you are a very nice man, but I’m not following you anywhere.”
The man quietly said, “I’m sorry to have bothered you and your family. You all have a merry Christmas.”
They were all watching him as he walked toward the exit. As he disappeared from sight, one of the workers came by and smilingly said, “I hope that man didn’t frighten you. He is harmless. He’s just a kind old man who stops in here every so often for some coffee.”
Sharon, hearing this, quickly huddled her kids around and said quietly, “Look, we just prayed to the Blessed Virgin for help, and this old man comes out of nowhere and offers us a tree. It seems a bit crazy, but it is Christmas Eve. They know him here, so he must be harmless. We have to trust that Jesus and His Mom are helping us. As foolish as it sounds, I say we follow him. What do you kids think?”
“Why not, mom.,” April said. “Jesus will protect us.”
They all agreed, and Sharon said, “Okay, let’s see if we can find him.”
They hurried outside, and the old man was just standing there. As Sharon approached him, he smiled and said, “I thought I would wait to see if you changed your mind. I’m glad you did.”
Across the road from Burger Barn was a golf course. The man told Sharon, “There is a gravel service road at the end of the golf course parking lot. Drive down that road for about a half-mile, and you will find your tree. All I ask is that you say a prayer for all of those folks who have no home to go to on this cold, Christmas Eve.”
The surrounding golf course was unlit and pitch black. The headlights from the car cast an eerie glow as they slowly drove forward. Sharon had them all praying together as they ventured into the unknown. The mother of four was driving using faith for fuel. She was afraid. So were her children. The only sound that could be heard was the gravel crunching beneath the tires.
And then, as they turned around the bend in the road, there it was. A Christmas tree, not just any Christmas tree but the most beautiful tree they had ever seen. It was fully decorated and all lit up. In fact, it was as if a light was shining down upon it. The entire area was lit up. As they got out of the car, an elderly woman stepped out from behind the bushes. Sharon and her kids just stared at her, not knowing where she came from, who she was, or how all this was happening. The woman asked, “Do you like the tree?”
Sharon said, “Who are you? What is going on? Are we all dreaming?”
“No, Sharon, you are not dreaming. Do you like the tree? What do you kids think? Do you like it?”
Austin said, “It is the most beautiful tree I ever, seen, ever.”
“Does everyone agree with Austin?”
They all agreed, and the woman said, “Well then, Sharon, you just take your family home. When you arrive, the tree will be waiting for you. And, Joey, don’t worry, Santa will be coming to your house tonight.”
Sharon asked, “What do you mean, just go home. What about the tree?”
“Don’t worry about the tree. It is yours. Trust me. All I ask is that you say a prayer for all of those folks who have no home to go to on this cold, Christmas Eve.”
“I don’t understand. How will the tree….?”
The lady smiled and said, “Have faith, sweetie. It got you here, didn’t it?”
Sharon and her kids got into the car and began their ride home. As they passed the Burger Barn, they looked for the old man, but he was nowhere to be seen. Alvin said, “How did she know all of our names?” No one said anything.
While driving, Sharon had them all praying for homeless people, and, for the most part, all of them were trying to understand what had actually happened.
When they pulled up to their house, all they could see was the Christmas tree that had been at the golf course only a short time before. It was standing in their living room in front of the window. They got out of the car and just stood there, in shock, not understanding, but seeing what they thought impossible. When they went inside, the house smelled like fresh carnations mixed with a hint of pine. Underneath the tree was a creche with figures carved from ivory. It was beautiful.
It was almost midnight when all the kids were finally in bed. Sharon got the gifts from her truck and the shed out back and placed them around the tree. Then she sat down, took out her rosary and began crying and praying simultaneously.
Christmas morning came, and Sharon made sure everyone was up, dressed, and ready to go to 8 A.M., Mass. After Mass she told the kids that they were going back to the golf course to find the man and woman who helped them. She wanted to thank them and invite them for Christmas dinner. The kids readily agreed.
The course was crowded with golfers, many out to show off their new clothes and golfing equipment. The gravel road was blocked off, so they got out of their car and began to walk. When they reached the bend in the road they stopped. Nothing was there except a golfer looking for his shanked golf shot.
Sharon said to the man, “Excuse me, sir, did you see an elderly man and woman anywhere around here?”
“Sorry lady, the only thing I’m hoping to see is my missing golf ball.”
As they slowly walked back to the car a white dove flew down from a tree and landed facing them. The bird seemed to be looking up at them They all stopped and marveled at this snow-white bird.
The bird stayed looking at them for about ten seconds then slowly fluttered its wings, flew up and landed on Sharon’s shoulder. She remained still. Turning her head ever so slowly, she looked at the dove. The bird looked back at her and their eyes connected. The bird leaned in and rubbed its face against Sharon’s cheek. Then it flew away.
Together they Founded a Religious Order that would spread around the World
By Larry Peterson
On December 6, 1752, Florence Chasseloup presented her husband, Pierre Fournet, with their only son who they named Andre-Hubert. Andre had one sister. The infant Andre was baptized the very next day by his uncle, Father Antoine Fournet, in the local parish, located in Vienne, France.
Twenty-one years later, in Le Blanc, France, on July 5, 1773, a baby girl was born into the aristocratic, Bichier des Ages family. They named her Joan Elizabeth Lucy, and she was baptized the same day she was born. From then on, most people knew her as Elizabeth Bichier.
No one ever would have considered that these two unlikely people would connect in 1797, during the height of the French Revolution. Nor would anyone have imagined that they would join forces to found and inspire religious orders that would eventually serve people on four continents and in thirteen different nations.
As a boy, Andre-Hubert was what one might consider a pompous little brat. He acted self-contained and even harbored a disdain for religion. His mother fostered these feelings because she kept telling him she wanted him to become a priest. He resented her prodding because a priest was the last thing he ever intended to be. In fact, he was so determined to show his mom that he meant it, he ran away from home determined to join the military.
His mother found him and made him come home before he could enlist. She sought out the aid of her brother-in-law, who was a priest in a rural farming community. His name was Jean Fournet, and he had a profound influence on his nephew. So much so that Andrew was ordained to the priesthood in 1776. At his ordination, his mother wept with joy.
Three years earlier, about 60 kilometers away (37 miles), a baby girl had been born into the aristocratic Bichier family. She was named Joan Elizabeth and baptized the same day. Her mom, Madame Bichier, was committed to teaching her children the tenets of the Catholic faith. Even as a small child Elizabeth felt herself being drawn to a life of prayer.
The French Revolution began on July 14, 1789, and French Catholics immediately fell victim to persecution. The Bichier estate was now under threat of seizure and Elizabeth and her mom moved to a tiny house in the local village. However, they were still harassed daily by the Revolutionary Surveillance Committee. They were continually being prodded to sign a new oath of loyalty to the Civil Constitution. They stood firm and refused—over and over. They were imprisoned, but their brother, who had sided with the revolutionaries, managed to have them freed. Elizabeth’s life was about to change.
Elizabeth, unable to receive the Holy Eucharist because of the new government’s anti-religious policy, felt terribly deprived. Toward the end of 1796, a former servant came to her and told her of a secret Mass being offered at a farm ten miles away. Elizabeth rode a donkey for more than three hours to reach the farm. After Mass, the priest, Father Andrew Fournet, began to hear confessions. Elizabeth was last in a very long line. Confessions lasted all night long, and when Elizabeth’s turn came to confess, the sun was rising.
She and Father Andrew had an immediate connection. Their spiritualities combined and the priest became Elizabeth’s spiritual director. He asked her to consider devoting her life to the sick, poor, aged and to also establish schools for children in the rural areas of their diocese. Even as a child, Elizabeth had consecrated herself to the Virgin Mary, and she immediately responded to Father Fournet’s ideas.
Father Fournet put Elizabeth in charge of a group of women who also were dedicated to Catholic education and the care of the poor and sick. Elizabeth then founded the order known as Daughter’s of the Holy Cross, Sisters of St. Andrew. The year was 1807. When she died in 1838, there were over 100 communities with hundreds of sisters working to help those in need. By the turn of the 20th century there were over 3100 sisters serving around the world. Today, the Daughter’s of the Holy Cross still has more than 600 sisters working on four continents in fourteen different countries helping others.
Father Andrew Fournet was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XI on June 4, 1933. Sister Joan Elizabeth Bichier des Ages was canonized a saint of June 6. 1947 by Pope Pius XII.
Domenico Casanova was a ship captain, and he and his wife, Anna Maria Benza, lived in Port Maurice, a seaport near Genoa. On December 20, 1676, Anna gave birth to a son, and they named him Paul Jerome Casanova. Paul’s father was a devout Catholic and took the responsibility of teaching his four children the faith to heart, using kindly diligence to teach them. Eventually, three of his sons entered the Franciscan Order, and his daughter became a nun.
When Paul was thirteen years old, he was sent to live with his uncle, Agostino, in Rome. This was done so Paul could study at the Jesuit Roman College located there. He was a very bright student and began the study of medicine. However, one day he visited the church connected to the Franciscan monastery of St. Bonaventure in Rome. He heard the choir singing, “Converte nos Deus, salutaris noster!” (convert us, O God, our salvation)!”
These words moved Paul, and he believed they were a call from heaven above to serve God. He decided against medicine and told his uncle his intentions. His uncle would not hear of this and sent him away. Paul was undeterred, and in 1697 he managed to join the Friars Minors. On October 2, 1697, he received the habit and took the name, Brother Leonard. He went on to complete his studies at St. Bonaventure’s and was ordained a priest.
Leonard desperately wanted to go to China as a missionary and convert “pagans.” But he had health issues which included a delicate constitution and a bleeding ulcer. He was sent to the monastery of the Franciscan Observants where he remained for four years until his health returned. There was a point where they all thought Leonard would die. But it is said that the Blessed Virgin interceded, and Leonard suddenly recovered.
He returned to ministry as a local preacher in the surrounding parishes. Leonard had such burning love of Jesus and Mary, combined with deep humility, frequent acts of penance, and an unending charity to his neighbor that it came forth in his preaching, and soon, he had a reputation as one of the great preachers of the day.
Friar Leonard immersed himself in his new work as a parish missionary. He would soon be traveling all throughout Italy and Corsica preaching to the parishioners in different places. Italy was known for its lawlessness and danger, but Leonard was committed and, although often fearful of impending danger, looked it straight in the eye and moved from town to town.
Leonard’s austere life, his practice of continually doing penance and his constant prayer and innate humility, was apparent in his preaching. It was so powerful and forthright that he converted countless sinners bringing many back to and into the faith. He developed a following of missionary preachers and even had a retreat house built for them outside Florence. This was a haven for spiritual renewal, and here they could go and refresh and prepare themselves for the assignments ahead.
Back in Rome, Father Leonard founded several confraternities, including the Confraternity of the Sacred Heart. Everywhere he went, he taught people to say, “My Jesus, Mercy.” He mainly preached on Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the importance and power of the Stations of the Cross. For forty-three years he set up the Stations at 571 locations, including the Roman Colosseum. He had such love for the stations that today he is known as the Saint of the Stations of the Cross.
His most significant work might be considered his writings and preaching about the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. He continually fostered devotion to the Immaculate Conception and insisted it should be proclaimed a dogma of faith. He attributed all his health and longevity to the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin. When Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception a dogma of faith in 1854, much of his decision was based upon the work and words of Leonard of Port Maurice.
Pope Benedict XIV held Father Leonard in high regard and begged him to not die in any other city but Rome. This Leonard did on November 26, 1751. He was 74 years old. St. Alphonsus Ligouri called Leonard the “great missionary of the eighteenth century.”
Numerous miracles followed his passing, and Pope Pius VI, who had known him, beatified him in 1796. Pope Pius IX canonized Leonard on June 29, 1867. Pope Pius XI named St. Leonard of Port Maurice as the patron saint of all parish missionaries.
Teofilo (the name means “Lover of God”) Camomot was born on March 3, 1914, in Talisay, Cebu, which is located in the center of the Philippines. He was the third child of Luis Camomot and Angela Bastida, who would eventually have eight children together. Teofilo was baptized the day after his birth and received his Confirmation one year later, on March 4, 1915.
Teofilo grew up in an environment supervised by gentle, loving, and religious parents. He was liked by almost everyone who met him, and his kind and caring manner left an impression on people. Upon finishing elementary school, Teofilo decided he wanted to work on this father’s farm. He also chose to attend school to become an agriculturist.
But his mom was sure this was not his calling. She recognized something spiritual within her son and wanted him to nurture it. He showed a natural and empathetic love and compassion toward the poor and downtrodden, and she thought he might consider religious life. He was frequently gathering food and rice to give to those in need.
Her prayers and the fact that Teofilo’s older brother was already a priest helped direct Teofilo to the seminary. The young man entered the Seminary of San Carlos in Cebu in 1932. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 14, 1941, one week after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Because of the outbreak of the war, he had to celebrate his first Mass at home instead of in his parish.
Father Camomot was assigned to St. Teresa Parish in Talisay, Cebu, in 1943. He lived very simply, only using the basics to get by. His austerity was an example for all the parishioners, and so were his actions. Each day, before celebrating Mass, he would visit the sick, and in addition to giving them Holy Communion, would tend to their personal needs the best he could. They all came to love the young priest.
Father Camomot served at St. Teresa’s Parish for twelve years. Then, on March 25, 1955, things changed dramatically for Father Camomot. He was appointed the Titular Bishop of Clisma and the Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro, Iloilo. He was consecrated bishop on May 29, 1955. Even though he was now a bishop he still continued visiting the sick and feeding the poor. His humility was an example for all Catholics in his diocese.
He was a favorite wherever he went. His caring ways and loving heart drew many to him. People wanted to be near him. They could feel the spirituality that surrounded him. One of his close friends, Msgr. Jose B. Buenaflor of La Paz, Iloilo, said, “He was a saintly man – devoted to prayer, to meditation, to conversion. [He was] a serious person, even while mingling with other priests… He was very charitable…Every time the poor went to him, he gave with all his heart…”
In 1959, Bishop Camomot was sent to the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro as the coadjutor (assistant) archbishop with right of succession. It was during this time that he expanded evangelization capabilities by forming communities dedicated to evangelizing. He founded the Pauling Faith Defenders and the Carmelite Tertiaries of the Blessed Eucharist. These would be the forerunners of the Daughters of Saint Teresa.
Archbishop Camomot participated in the Second Vatican Council, attending four different sessions from 1962 thru 1965. The archbishop had suffered from kidney problems and in 1968 had to have surgery. His recovery time required him to resign as the co-adjutor Archbishop, and he was sent back to Cebu in 1970. Julio Cardinal Rosales assigned him back to his hometown of Carcar, Cebu, as a parish priest (he was still an archbishop) where, once again, his humility, generosity, and love for those less fortunate shined through. He saw the face of Christ in everyone
Wherever Archbishop Teofilo Camomot had gone during his life, he touched the hearts and souls of all who came in contact with him. He possessed the spiritual gifts of healing, reading hearts, and there have been witnesses to his acts of bilocation.
Sadly, on September 27, 1988, while returning home, he was killed in a vehicular accident. He was 74 years old. He has been declared a “Servant of God” and his evidence for sainthood is with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. There have been no negative comments, and it is expected that the Holy Father will proclaim him as VenerableTeofilo Camomot shortly.
God is the Answer because without Him there is no Hope
By Larry Peterson
“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted
is the most terrible poverty.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta
This will be the third Thanksgiving since my wife passed away, and when you become widowed, there is an inescapable loneliness factor that enters your life. But I have learned that loneliness has no boundaries. It reaches out for everyone and captures many of the unsuspecting, including those who are seemingly happy, contented, and successful, dragging them into a world of hidden misery and often depression.
However, many who have experienced loss manage to bounce back and find contentment, peace, and even love again. Others cannot—why is that? The common denominator seems to be that those people who have God in their lives were never alone at all. Those who do not—remain alone. The first consequence of rejecting God is the loss of Hope. They have allowed Hope to be erased from their spirit.
The results of losing Hope are devastating. In fact, the loneliness factor in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. Here are a few statistics that show how losing Hope has affected our nation. Loss of Hope leads to despair, and the ones affected most by this loss are the Generation Z people, those who are in the 18 to 22-year-old range. I have grandchildren older than that. The entire concept of these young people, fresh out from adolescence and beginning adulthood, having lost Hope is so sad. How can this be?
Cigna referenced a “Loneliness Index,” and it shows that loneliness has become rampant in the United States. This worldwide health service company used the UCLA Loneliness Scale (yes, they have a loneliness scale), which is a 20 item questionnaire that was designed to determine a person’s social isolation and their subjective feelings. This evaluator is used frequently to track and measure loneliness. Some of the results were astonishing. This is from their report of May 1, 2018:
47 percent of Americans sometimes or always feel alone
27 percent of Americans feel no one understands them
40 percent feel that their relationships have no meaning and feel isolated
20 percent feel they feel close to no one and have no one to talk to
AMAZINGLY—the Generation Z people (18 to 22) are the loneliest generation. How heartbreaking is that?
Social Media users have a 43.5 percent loneliness factor, which was comparable to the 41.7 percent for those who do not use social media.
Isn’t it interesting that nowhere is the name of God mentioned in these findings? And nowhere is the importance of the traditional family considered. The numbers are mind-boggling. We are a nation of almost 330 million people. If 47% say they feel “alone” that is nearly half the country. We only have to go back 25 years to the early “90s to see the rapid decline in the absence of Hope.
Since then, there has been a 58% decline in club meetings, a 43% drop in family dinners, and children have their playtime regulated, depriving them of natural social development. People use their phones to message each other, apply for jobs, get interviewed, quit jobs, break up with their boyfriends or girlfriends, file divorce papers, and do all sorts of interactions without having to go face to face with a person, never saying one word.
Getting back to God and family would be akin to putting the lynchpin back into the hub of life. Then, people, kids included, might be taught that they can turn to Jesus and never be alone. They might be taught to think of His words from Matthew 28:20 And behold, I am with you always, until the end of this age.
We must count our blessings on Thanksgiving, especially knowing that more than half of all Americans still believe in and honor God in their lives and that we have the freedom to do it. This Thanksgiving, millions upon millions of us will pray together thanking God for all we have. We should also pray for all those who do not have Hope in their lives. We know it can always be reignited and prayer can be the kindling used to fire up the Hope lying dormant in so many. God is just waiting to be asked to light the match.
Anne Heigham was born in England in 1563 during the early years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Her parents were wealthy Calvinists, and Anne was the eldest daughter of William Heigham, who was the son of Roger Heigham, a protestant reformer who worked for King Henry VIII. When Anne and her brother became teenagers, they converted to Catholicism. Their mom and dad wasted no time in disowning and disinheriting them. Both were sent away to survive on their own.
The Heigham siblings had converted along with a fellow by the name of Roger Line. It was during the time when the Catholic Church in England was undergoing harsh persecution. Priests were hunted down and quickly executed. Anyone who helped them, for any reason whatsoever, were also subjected to the death penalty. Many Catholic homemakers assisted priests in hiding by giving them refuge in hidden rooms or camouflaged areas near their homes. They also set up areas where the priests could say Mass in their homes. It was incredibly dangerous work.
Anne and Roger Line fell in love and were married. Roger held the English authorities in contempt and ardently supported Anne’s pro-Catholic zealousness. Anne joined the list of Catholic women who would harbor and care for priests in hiding.
She had a secret room built next to another room where a small altar and the necessities to offer Holy Mass were kept. Confession could be heard in this room and other sacraments administered, such as Baptism and First Holy Communion. It also acted as a prayer room and was a place for priests to hide if the authorities came by.
It was not long after Roger and Anne were married that he and Anne’s brother, William Heigham, were arrested while attending Mass, imprisoned, and fined. Roger was quoted as having said at the time, “If I must desert either the world or God, I will desert the world, for it is good to cling to God.”
Roger was summarily banished from England forever and went to Flanders. Alone in exile he died shortly after arriving. When word of her husband’s death reached Anne, she increased her efforts to help priests in hiding. She also managed a guest house for travelers, did the housekeeping, and handled all the finances. Then she met Father John Gerard, S.J. He had opened a house of refuge for priests in hiding and asked Anne if she would manage it. She agreed.
Shortly after this, Father John was arrested and sent to the Tower of London. Here he was tortured repeatedly but with the help of some clandestine Catholics, managed to escape. Anne was in poor health, and with Father John imprisoned, her responsibilities grew immensely. Unfortunately for Anne Line, she had become very well known to many people. As a result, she was forced to wear disguises and travel from house to house as secretly as possible.
Things took a sour turn on February 2, 1601; Candlemas Day (the Purification of Our Lady). An extra-large crowd showed up to attend Holy Mass. Neighbors noticed the large number of people and notified authorities. The constables arrived, searched the house, and found the hidden room with the altar. Father Francis page, the priest who was there to say the Mass, managed to shed his vestments and disappear into the crowd. Anne was immediately arrested.
On February 26, 1601, Anne was taken to the Sessions House on Old Bailey Lane. She was so weak with fever they had to carry her to the trial in a chair. Sir John Popham, the judge, sentenced her to death for the crime of assisting a priest. Two priests, Father Roger Filcock and Father Mark Barkworth, were condemned with her. Their execution was scheduled for the next day.
The next morning Anne Line was hanged. She was first to die, followed by the two priests. Before she was executed, she announced loudly, “I am sentenced to die for harboring a Catholic priest, and so far am I from repenting for having so done, that I wish, with all my soul, that where I have entertained one, I could have entertained a thousand.”
Anne Line was beatified by Pope Pius XI on December 15, 1929. She was canonized a saint by Pope St. Paul VI on October 25, 1970.