Czech Republic, Slovakia, Portugal

Czech Republic: letter to youths on vocations A relation between the vocation and the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life is the main theme of the sixth letter to youth written by Mons. Jan Vokál, bishop of Hradec Králové, on the occasion on the diocesan Year of Vocations declared for 2014. He points to the fact that we are never alone when we make important decision. “God is present among us through the Holy Spirit”, writes Mons. Vokál, inviting all those who are not sure what direction to take in their lives, to open up to this presence and to pray while searching for answers. The prelate emphasizes the importance of the sacrament of confirmation, so often neglected and forgotten by young people. “This imprint of the Holy spirit, this indelible transformation of the soul is what we need to have the right direction in our life”, concludes the letter. Slovakia: “We are proud of the family” “We are proud of family and we want the whole society to know it”, says Anton Chromík, one of coordinators of a pro-family initiative “Proud of Family” due to be held on 28 June in Bratislava. Last year’s edition of the project saw participation of hundreds of people supporting the idea of the family based on marriage of a man and a woman, and the organisers hope that the third edition of the event will be even more successful. “It has a special flavour this year, as several days ago the members of the National Council approved the constitutional protection of marriage”, explains Anton Chromík, adding that family “truly deserves an exceptional position and protection that would clearly say that no other relationships can be put on the same level”. Participants of the pro-family march can buy special T-shirts made on the occasion with slogans: “Mummy and daddy forever”, “Proud of family”, “Children are our future”. This year’s motto of the event is “Joy grows in giving”. Portugal: 500th anniversary of Funchal Past Thursday, the diocese of Funchal, suffragan diocese of the Patriarchate of Lisbon, celebrated its 500th anniversary. It was established by Pope Leo X upon request of Portuguese king D. Manuel I on June 12 1514 with the bull “Pro Excelenti Praeminentia”. On January 31 1533, Pope Clement VII elevated it to the rank of archdiocese, a very extended territory that included all the “discovered and yet to be discovered land” by Portuguese seamen. On Saturday June 14 the Vatican released a letter that appointed cardinal Fernando Filoni as special envoy for the celebrations. In the letter, Pope Francis underlined the historical importance of the diocese whose jurisdiction once extended as far as the territory of Brazil. The text in Latin highlights the pastoral content of the mission in which His Eminence was accompanied by canonicals José Fiel de Sousa, general vicar of the diocese, and João Duarte Pita de Andrade, president of the Chapter of the cathedral, with reference to Pope John Paul II’s visit to the island of Madeira (1991). On Sunday June 15 Cardinal Filoni celebrated the closing Mass of the “Jubilee Week” held in the dos Barreiros stadium. Closing the anniversary celebrations, the bishop of Funchal conveyed his appreciation of the pontifical recognition and his joy for the large participation of the local population. “Our wish is that these celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the diocese may contribute to rekindling the memory of our values along with new projects and various forms of commitment by the Church towards people and societies of our times”, said Mons. António Carrilho.

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