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Everyday Heroes: For Catholic vet, 'doing right thing' outweighed risks

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Knights of Columbus

By Andrew Fowler

Sgt. Gary Rose looked out and saw a wounded soldier 50 meters outside his company's perimeter, stranded in the middle of North Vietnamese Army machine gun fire during a Vietnam War Special Forces mission in Laos.

It was day two of Operation Tailwind -- a Special Forces mission to disrupt the enemy army's operations in southeastern Laos during the Vietnam War. Sixteen American and nearly 120 Montagnard soldiers dropped deep into enemy-controlled territory from Sept. 11-14, 1970. Rose was their medic.

He had to act quickly. He scrambled, avoiding enemy fire to reach the wounded man and then, shielding him with his own body, provided medical treatment. With one hand, he dragged the wounded Montagnard, using the other to fire his weapon at the attacking North Vietnamese Army, or NVA.

As he entered the perimeter, a rocket-propelled grenade exploded, shredding Rose's foot.

"A hole in your foot, a hole in your arm, as long as you could function was not considered serious," Rose said.

He spent the rest of the operation using a stick as a crutch. Over the course of four days, Rose treated and saved 60 wounded soldiers. His heroics that day went largely unremembered for 47 years -- until he received the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony Oct. 23, 2017.

Rose shared his battlefield experiences in "Everyday Heroes," a video series produced by the Knights of Columbus showcasing ordinary men acting in extraordinary ways, who are strengthened by their Catholic faith and membership in the Knights of Columbus.

Rose said he hardly remembers the actions witnesses attribute to him during Operation Tailwind. But he remembers the times death nearly took him.

By day four of the operation, in what Rose described as a 96-hour day, the Special Forces depleted their ammunition as NVA troops continued their onslaught. Evacuation helicopters were called in to extract the company. Rose helped the wounded board the helicopters, then returned to the outer defensive perimeter to help repel the assault. He boarded the last helicopter out.

"I said to the first sergeant, 'You know, Top, if this thing goes down, I'm walking back,'" Rose remembers saying as he hobbled aboard.

As they lifted off, the helicopter was under sustained enemy fire. A Marine door gunner was shot through the neck. Rose stopped the bleeding, saving his life. But then, Rose was thrown from the helicopter just before it crashed.

The helicopter was smoking and leaking fuel. Rose's comrades were trapped, wounded and some unconscious. Rose crawled in and out of the wreckage, pulling his brothers away from the danger while administrating life-saving aid until another chopper came to bring them back to base.

Upon returning to base, Rose refused treatment before others. Three men lost their lives.

"I've been told by everybody that's analyzed this from one end to the other that none of us should have made it out of there," Rose said. "When I think about those four days, I don't see how you could survive something like that without somebody deciding it was not your time to go."

Rose is one of several members of the Knights of Columbus to receive the Medal of Honor, following Sgt. Maj. Daniel Daly; Father Charles J. Watters, a chaplain with the rank of major; Maj. General Patrick Brady; and Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward C. Byers Jr.

"There are more important things in life than being possibly being killed or injured - those are the risks you take in doing the right things," Rose said. "You're doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do."

Rose continued his career in the Army before retiring as a captain in 1987. He later worked as a technical consultant in the defense and automobile industries.

Rose now spends his time working with multiple charitable organizations, including the Knights of Columbus. He joined the Knights while serving in Panama in 1973. He currently lives in Huntsville, Alabama, volunteering with Good Shepherd Council 11672 in their fundraisers for people with physical and intellectual disabilities as well as the council's initiatives sponsoring education.

"You can't fix the country, you can't fix the state, you can't even fix your city, but you can do something about your neighborhood, the block in which you live in, and the little local community. And the Knights of Columbus provide the means to do that," he said.

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Editor's Note: A video accompanying this story can be found on YouTube at https://bit.ly/2O0HTch. To share your story of an everyday hero with the Knights of Columbus contact [email protected]

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Music, art are a gateway to discover God's greatness, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Liturgical musicians have the unique calling to interpret God's will and love through song and praise, Pope Francis said.

"Every Christian, in fact, is an interpreter of the will of God in his or her own life, and by his or her life sings a joyful hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God," the pope said Nov. 9 during a meeting with participants at a Vatican conference on interpreting sacred music.

The conference, titled "Church, Music, Interpreters: A Necessary Dialogue," was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Institute for Sacred Music and the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm.

Reflecting on the conference theme, the pope said most people think of interpreters as a kind of translator who conveys what "he or she has received in such a way that another person can understand it."

Although good interpreters in the field of music essentially "translate" what a composer has written, they also should feel "great humility before a work of art that is not their property," and to "bring out the beauty of the music."

Within the context of the liturgy, he added, music is a way for Christians "to serve others through the works they perform."

"Every interpreter is called to develop a distinctive sensibility and genius in the service of art which refreshes the human spirit and in service to the community," the pope said. "This is especially the case if the interpreter carries out a liturgical ministry."

Pope Francis thanked the participants for their commitment and -- citing the words of his predecessor St. Paul VI -- said that music ministers have the great task of "grasping treasures from the heavenly realm of the spirit and clothing them in words, colors and forms, thus making them accessible."

"The artist, the interpreter and -- in the case of music -- the listener, all have the same desire," the pope said: "To understand what beauty, music and art allow us to know of God's grandeur. Now perhaps more than ever, men and women have need of this. Interpreting that reality is essential for today's world."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Gospel is God's gift, not a means to wage war, bishop says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bishops should not give in to calls to be more combative cultural warriors in the world, said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn.

"The Gospel has an internal strength that doesn't need to be waged as war but needs to be presented as God's great gift," Bishop DiMarzio said in his homily Nov. 11 during Mass at the Rome Basilica of St. Mary Major.

Bishop DiMarzio was the principal celebrant and homilist at the first Mass the bishops of New York celebrated during their visits "ad limina apostolorum" -- to the threshold of the apostles -- to report on the status of their dioceses.

The U.S. bishops' last "ad limina" visits were eight years ago -- in 2011-2012.

At St. Mary Major, the New York bishops celebrated Mass in the chapel that houses the Marian icon "Salus Populi Romani" (health of the Roman people).

After the Mass, the bishops walked down the stairs under the basilica's main altar to pray before the silver reliquary that houses what traditional holds is a relic of the manger where Christ was born.

In his homily, Bishop DiMarzio reflected on the day's memorial of St. Martin of Tours, the fourth-century bishop who served as a Roman soldier stationed in Gaul, now present-day France.

According to the early Christian historian Sulpicius Severus, while patrolling on a winter night, St. Martin cut his cloak in half and gave it to a poorly clothed beggar along a road.

The following night, Severus wrote, the saint "had a vision of Christ arrayed in that part of his cloak with which he had clothed the poor man" and "hastened to receive baptism."

Like St. Martin, Bishop DiMarzio said, Christians are called to "turn to Christ and recognize him in other people."

He also noted that while the saintly prelate was known as a "warrior bishop" who fought against the Aryan heresy, St. Martin was also "careful" and made "sure that there was no error in his diocese."

Scandal, the bishop said, can come easily "to the people of God, the 'little ones,' and we've been living with that scandal now for years."

"We've come to understand that our people are scandalized when they think we should be combatting the modern-day heresy more as warrior bishops, more as cultural warriors," he said.

"But we're not called to that," he said. "We're called to preach the Gospel," which has its own power and is a gift.

Bishop DiMarzio called on his fellow bishops to follow St. Martin's example and "return to our dioceses renewed and refreshed with greater strength to make sure that our faith increases."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

Pope prays for eventual visit to South Sudan, peace in Bolivia

IMAGE: CNS photo/Rodrigo Urzagasti, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Expressing his hope to visit South Sudan next year, Pope Francis appealed to the leaders there to continue to follow the path of dialogue and the common good.

"I wish to renew my invitation to all stakeholders in the national political process to seek that which unites and to overcome that which divides in a spirit of true fraternity," he said after praying the Angelus with visitors in St. Peter's Square Nov. 10.

He extended a special greeting to "the dear people of South Sudan, where I should visit" next year, he said.

"The South Sudanese people have suffered too much these past years and are awaiting -- with great hope -- a better future, especially the permanent end of conflicts and a long-lasting peace," he said.

The pope strongly urged all leaders to tirelessly commit themselves to "an inclusive dialogue" that seeks consensus for the good of the whole nation.

"I also express hope that the international community does not neglect accompanying South Sudan on the journey of national reconciliation, he said, before leading everyone in prayer.

The pope also recalled the spiritual retreat held at the Vatican in April for the political leaders of the country's warring factions. At the end of the retreat, Pope Francis had knelt at their feet, begging them to give peace a chance and to be worthy "fathers of the nation."

"As a brother, I ask you to remain in peace. I ask you from my heart, let's go forward. There will be many problems, but do not be afraid," he had told the leaders, at the end of the meeting.

The retreat included South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and four of the nation's five designated vice presidents: Riek Machar, James Wani Igga, Taban Deng Gai and Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior. Under the terms of a peace agreement signed in September 2018, the vice presidents were to take office together in the spring, sharing power and ending the armed conflict between clans and among communities. The formation of the government was delayed until Nov. 12, but just five days before the deadline, Kiir and Machar announced a further delay until February.

The retreat at the Vatican had been the idea of Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, who attended the final part of the gathering. He and Pope Francis have been supporting the peace efforts of the South Sudan Council of Churches, and they hope to visit South Sudan together when there is peace.

After the Angelus, Pope Francis also asked for prayers for Bolivia.

Speaking before the situation there had deteriorated to the point of President Evo Morales announcing his resignation, the pope had invited all citizens, especially leaders in politics and society, to await "with a constructive spirit" and "in a climate of peace and serenity" the results of a then-underway audit of elections held Oct. 20.

At the end of its audit, the Organization of American States called for fresh elections after determining there had been irregularities in a vote that appeared to give Morales a fourth consecutive term.

The country's opposition parties did not recognize the result, and thousands of Bolivians had taken to the streets each day to protest what they saw as a fraudulent election. At least three people died and hundreds of people were injured in clashes between protesters and government supporters.

Even though later in the day Nov. 10 Morales announced new elections would be held, he eventually stepped down after opposition groups, including the police and military, called for him to resign.

The 60-year-old leader was the nation's first indigenous president. He won election in 2006 and easily won two more elections after leading the continent's poorest nation through an economic boom, paving roads and curbing inflation.

However, he refused to accept the results of referendum reaffirming presidential term limit,s and he sought a fourth term; the country's constitutional court later ruled that term limits violated his rights.

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at [email protected]

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