Mass Pope Benedict

Pope Benedict’s spiritual testament: ‘Stand firm in the faith’; His funeral to be simple.


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By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Retired Pope Benedict XVI’s final message to Catholics around the world was: “Stand firm in the faith! Do not let yourselves be confused!”

Less than 10 hours after informing the world that the 95-year-old pope had died Dec. 31, the Vatican press office released his spiritual testament, a statement of faith and of thanksgiving.

Unlike St. John Paul II’s spiritual testament, Pope Benedict’s included no instructions for his funeral or burial and made no mention of what should happen to his belongings.*

“To all those whom I have wronged in any way, I ask forgiveness from my heart,” Pope Benedict wrote.

Written in German and dated Aug. 29, 2006 — in the second year of his almost eight-year pontificate — Pope Benedict wrote with great affection of his parents, his sister and his brother, the beauty of Bavaria and his faith in God.

“If at this late hour of my life I look back over the decades I have been living, I first see how many reasons I have to give thanks,” he wrote in the document when he was 79 years old.

“First of all, I thank God himself, the giver of every good gift, who gave me life and guided me through various moments of confusion; always picking me up whenever I began to slip and always giving me the light of his countenance again,” he said. “In retrospect I see and understand that even the dark and tiring stretches of this path were for my salvation and that it was in them that he guided me well.”

Born in 1927, Joseph Ratzinger was raised in a Germany struggling to recover from the first World War; Adolf Hitler came to power when the future pope was only 7.

In his testament, he offered thanks to his parents, “who gave me life in a difficult time and who, at the cost of great sacrifices, with their love prepared a magnificent home that like a clear light still enlightens my days.”

“My father’s lucid faith taught us children to believe, and as a signpost it has always stood firm in the midst of all my academic achievements,” he said. “My mother’s profound devotion and great goodness are a legacy for which I cannot thank her enough.”

Pope Benedict thanked God for the many friends, both men and women, he had had by his side, and for his teachers and students — many of whom he continued to meet with late in his life.

A pope known for his concern for the environment, he thanked God for the beauty of his Bavarian homeland, “in which I always saw the splendor of the Creator himself shining through.”

“I pray that our land remains a land of faith,” he wrote before pleading with his fellow Germans to let nothing draw them from the faith.

“And, finally,” he wrote, “I thank God for all the beauty I experienced at every stage of my journey, especially in Rome and in Italy, which became my second homeland.”

Addressing the whole church, Pope Benedict urged Catholics to hold fast to their faith and to not let science or research shake the foundations of their belief.

“It often seems as if science — the natural sciences on the one hand and historical research, like the exegesis of Sacred Scripture, on the other — are able to offer irrefutable results at odds with the Catholic faith,” he said.

But he assured those reading the document that throughout his life he had seen science offer “apparent certainties against the faith” only to see them vanish, “proving not to be science, but philosophical interpretations only apparently pertaining to science.”

At the same time, he said, “it is in dialogue with the natural sciences that faith too has learned to better understand the limit of the scope of its claims, and thus its specificity.”

In 60 years of theological study and observation, he said, he had seen “unshakable” theses collapse, including those offered by the “Marxist generation” of theologians.

“The reasonableness of faith has emerged and is emerging again,” he wrote. “Jesus Christ is truly the way, the truth and the life — and the church, with all its inadequacies, is truly his body.”

In the end, Pope Benedict wrote, “I humbly ask: pray for me, so that the Lord, despite all my sins and inadequacies, may receive me into his eternal dwelling.”

Pope Benedict’s funeral will respect his wishes to be simple

By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In accordance with Pope Benedict XVI’s wishes, his funeral and moments of prayer surrounding it will be simple, according to the Vatican press office.

The 95-year-old pope’s body will stay at his private residence, where he passed away Dec. 31, until early Jan. 2, during which time “no official visits or public prayers are planned,” the press office said in a statement Dec. 31.

His remains will then be brought to St. Peter’s Basilica, where, starting at 9 a.m., people will be able to pay their last respects and offer their prayers from Jan. 2 to Jan. 4, it said.

The funeral Mass, presided over by Pope Francis, will be in St. Peter’s Square Jan. 5 starting at 9:30 a.m. Rome time. And the only official delegations to be present will be from Germany and Italy, the Vatican said.

After the funeral Mass, the coffin will be taken to St. Peter’s Basilica and then to the Vatican grotto for burial.

Just a few hours after Pope Benedict died at 9:34 a.m. Dec. 31, Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, spoke to reporters.

While he did not offer precise details as to what the funeral Mass of a retired pope will look like, Bruni said that Pope Benedict wanted his funeral and related events to be carried out “in a sign of simplicity.”

Bruni also said the retired pope received the sacrament of the anointing of the sick Dec. 28, the day Pope Francis told people Pope Benedict was “very sick” and in need of prayers.

“Ask the Lord to console him and sustain him in his witness of love for the church until the very end,” Pope Francis had said at the end of his general audience.

Before the funeral, Bruni added, all scheduled events at the Vatican were to continue as planned, such as Pope Francis’ evening celebration of vespers and the recitation of the Te Deum Dec. 31.

Pope Francis embraces a child as he arrives to lead a traditional evening prayer service on New Year’s Eve in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Dec. 31, 2022. Retired Pope Benedict XVI died in the morning Dec. 31 at his residence at the Vatican. He was 95. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope pays tribute to the late Pope Benedict, highlighting his gentleness

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Keeping his appointment to celebrate vespers as 2022 was ending, Pope Francis also paid tribute to his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who died early Dec. 31.

“At this moment, our thoughts go spontaneously to our dearest Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who left us this morning,” Pope Francis told thousands of people joining him in St. Peter’s Basilica for the evening prayer service.

“With emotion we remember him as such a noble, such a gentle person,” the pope said. “And we feel so much gratitude in our hearts: gratitude to God for having given him to the church and to the world; gratitude to him, for all the good he accomplished, particularly for his witness of faith and prayer, especially in these last years of his retired life.”

“Only God knows the value and strength of his intercession and his sacrifices offered for the good of the church,” Pope Francis said of the 95-year-old Pope Benedict, who had spent almost 10 years in retirement in a monastery in the Vatican Gardens.

The prayers of the faithful also included special mention of the deceased Pope Benedict, asking God to allow him to see Jesus face to face.

In the main section of his homily, Pope Francis focused on kindness and gentleness as both a religious and a civic virtue.

With the Christmas season still underway and the basilica’s Christmas decorations still in place, Pope Francis said that Jesus “did not come into the world swooping down from heaven; he was born of Mary.”

Jesus became human “with her consent; in freedom, in gratuitousness, in respect, in love,” the pope said.

Focusing specifically on the Diocese of Rome, his diocese, Pope Francis urged citizens to cultivate kindness in their relationships with each other.

“Kindness is an important factor in the culture of dialogue,” he said, “and dialogue is indispensable if we are to live in peace, as brothers and sisters, who do not always get along — that is normal — but who nevertheless talk to each other, listen to each other and try to understand and meet each other.”

Kindness is not just politeness, he said, it is a virtue that can “humanize our societies.”

“Kindness is an antidote against some of the pathologies of our societies: against cruelty, which unfortunately can creep in like a poison in the heart and intoxicate relationships,” he said, and also “against distracted anxiety and frenzy that make us focus on ourselves and close us off to others.”

Too often, the pope said, people get caught up in their own lives and do not realize how aggressive they are and how they stop asking “please,” or saying “sorry” or “thank you.”

“Peace progresses with those three words,” he said. “It would be good for us to think about using ‘please,’ ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’ often.”

Pope Francis said his wish for the new year would be that everyone try harder to be kind.

“Experience teaches us that if it becomes a way of life, it can create healthy coexistence,” he said, and “it can humanize social relationships by dissolving aggression and indifference.”

After the service, Pope Francis joined thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square to admire, and stop to pray, in front of the Nativity scene.


Audrey Iwalani Ho Pacheco Vance and Alexa Keaulani Ho Ohta Hashimoto

Heaven’s Newest Angels

Audrey Iwalani Yuk Lin Ho was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on March 27, 1927 to Alice Nailiuluikalani Woodward Ho and Alexander Yuen Sing Ho. They had five children of their own and adopted two children. Audrey grew up in Pauoa Valley with her siblings and attended school at Sacred Hearts Convent and graduated from Sacred Hearts Academy, Class of 1945. After graduating, she danced hula professionally with her friend, Maiki Aiu, for several years.

Audrey married Albert Pacheco in 1947 and raised her two sons and daughter while working for the Federal Government at Pearl Harbor in the Educational Services Division, Advancement Branch. She later went back to school to obtain her Bachelor of Arts degree in Hawaiian & Pacific Island Studies from the University of Hawaii. After retiring from work, Audrey successfully returned to the University of Hawaii to further her educational goals and obtained a Masters degree in Pacific Island Studies. She was also involved with and committed to the Iolani Palace and its restoration and development of the docent program. Her favorite past time was gardening. She enjoyed studying indigenous and endemic plants. Audrey was also an avid traveler, both domestically and internationally.

Our beloved Mother taught us many of life’s lessons and instilled in us an appreciation for principles and values which our family has held in high regard for generations. She often reminded us “to always be kind”; “to grow old gracefully”; and for her that meant to be your own person, be independent, be positive with the attitude of gratitude, be self-sufficient, and a good, skilled listener. She would often tell us of how important it might be to mimic a willow and that survival by bending with the wind was key to successfully living life. Whenever she saw any of her children struggling or challenged, she would remind us of how that obstacle would make us stronger when we resolved the issue and saw it as an opportunity for growth and change.

Our Mother would often repeat inspirational quotes like: “…real change happens one step at a time” OR “…when one door closes, another will open”… if you keep your mind focused! She spoke often to us of the importance of education and that this was the best gift you can give anyone, for in the acquisition of knowledge, it will build character and respect, gives you the power to make informed decisions, and boosts your confidence. Audrey was more than our Mother, she was our cheerleader, our mentor, our confidante and more. She would tell us of how her children were her source of pride, and in the same breath remark, “…so don’t forget which family you come from”. Audrey lived by her beliefs. She lived a full life surrounded by those who loved her so dearly to the end. And she is missed immensely.

Alexa Kehaulani Ho Ohta Hashimoto was born on September 29, 1941 in Honolulu, Hawaii. She graduated from Sacred Hearts Academy, class of 1959. Alexa worked 26 years for the State of Hawaii as an Account Clerk for the Department of Public Safety and also worked for Macy’s department store for more than 16 years.

She was adventurous and loved to travel but was happiest when she was surrounded by family and friends. Alexa was a loving wife, devoted mother, fun auntie, and loyal friend.

She passed away at home surrounded by her family at the age of 79. 

With profound appreciation our ‘ohana wishes to thank you for your presence with us today to honor our Mothers. We are grateful for the many expressions of loving support, concern and kindness shown to us during this time of bereavement. Your prayers and thoughtfulness have touched our hearts.

Aloha Paul Kealoha, Celebration of Life Mass

Paul and Faith were married for 51 years and were close to celebrating their 52nd anniversary. Paul and Faith were inseparable. Paul would take Faith to the beauty salon every Saturday morning because he wanted his bride to keep her hair looking beautiful. Paul started going to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace when he was 9 years old. He and Faith were married there. He was a lector, so was Faith until the pandemic. Paul had a gentle soul, a smile that brightened the room, and a heart that made you feel you are special. Please pray for comfort for Faith and the family. Paul, God embrace you with his eternally blazing love. Pray for all of us. Eternal rest grant unto Paul, O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon him. May Paul Rest In Peace. Amen. Hail Mary… (by Easter Almuena).

Paul and Faith Kealoha

500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines Live March 16, 2021 6pm

Bishop Silva announces local commemoration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines


Parol at the Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa in Honolulu. (Photo: Dann Ebina)

In anticipation of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the introduction of Christianity to the Philippines in 2021, Bishop Larry Silva is encouraging Hawaii parishes hosting the Filipino Advent traditions Misa de Gallo and Simbang Gabi this year to follow homily themes based on the “Nine-Year Spiritual Journey of New Evangelization” implemented by the bishops of the Philippines.

“Let us find ways to integrate the nine pastoral priorities of the church in the Philippines into the pastoral life of our respective parishes and ministries in the Diocese of Honolulu,” the bishop wrote in a letter to all Hawaii priests and parishioners, Dec. 3.

The nine pastoral priorities of the church in the Philippines are:

  • Integral Faith Formation: Toward Maturity in Christ
  • The Laity: Choose to be Brave, Called to be Saints and Sent Forth as Heroes
  • The Poor: The Gaze of the Crucified Lord
  • The Eucharist and the Family: Missionary Disciples of the Eucharist
  • The Parish as a Communion of Communities: A Pilgrim Community
  • The Clergy and Religious: Renewed Servant-Leaders for the New Evangelization.
  • Youth in Mission: Beloved, Gifted, Empowered
  • Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue: Unity in Diversity
  • Missio Ad Gentes (Mission to the Nations): Graciously Gifted to Give

“For those parishes without Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi, I also encourage that this news be disseminated through publication in parish bulletins and announcements,” Bishop Silva said.

According to a pastoral letter by the Philippine bishops, Christianity came to their nation with the first Mass celebrated in Limasawa Island on Easter Sunday March 31, 1521. That year also marked the baptism of Rajah Humabon who was given his Christian name Carlos and his wife, Hara Amihan, who was baptized Juana.

The first Filipino Catholics that year received, as a gift from explorer Ferdinand Magellan, the oldest religious icon today in the Philippines, Santo Nino de Cebu.

“In Hawaii, a great majority of immigrants here are Filipinos who brought with them their tradition, culture and most importantly, their faith,” Bishop Silva wrote. “And so, I am calling for our participation in that great jubilee” to be done locally, called “500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines — Hawaii celebration.”

“I look forward to a grand celebration sometime in Easter 2021 at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace,” he said.

“I am also planning to lead a Pilgrimage to the Philippines in 2021 for us to understand and appreciate even more the gift of faith of our Filipino brethren,” the bishop said.

Funeral Mass Father Scott Bush

Priesthood was second, much richer, career for island-born vocation

By Patrick Downes
Hawaii Catholic Herald

Father Scott Bush, an Oahu-born, part-Hawaiian former moving company manager who left a business career to embrace God’s call to priesthood, serving more than 25 years in parishes on the Big Island and Oahu, died Jan. 2 at Island Hospice in Palolo. He was 70 years old.

According to Bishop Larry Silva, his death was due to complications from kidney failure and was not COVID-19-related.

The bishop last visited Father Bush at the hospice on Christmas day and gave him Viaticum (Holy Communion for the dying).

“Afterwards, although he was weak and could only speak softly, he gave his “Nunc Dimittis,” speaking of his readiness to die and meet the Lord. He gave thanks to God for the many blessings of his life, especially for the blessing of the priesthood,” the bishop said.

“He said he wanted nothing more than to serve the Lord and his people, and he was richly rewarded in doing so,” Bishop Silva said. “He said he wanted to continue that priestly service forever in heaven. It was beautiful and quite moving.”

The bishop offered a word “of thanks and of consolation” to the priest’s close friend, Allene Ishikawa, who helped care for Father Bush through times of ill health. She was present when he died.

Father Cosmenio “Sammy” Rosimo Jr., who worked with Father Bush at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Ewa Beach, sent condolences to the bishop in a Jan. 3 email from the Philippines, where he is a priest of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia.

“Father Scott was like a brother to me more than my pastor,” said Father Rosimo. “We were transparent to each other and bared our souls to one another.”

He said Father Bush had “a kind and generous heart always aflame with love for the poor and homeless.”

“He delegated a lot of things to me in the administration of the parish except for one thing, the social action ministry,” he said. “He wanted very much to lead in serving the poor and the least.”

“I remember how we cried together about the fate of one homeless family which he eventually adopted in his own townhouse,” Father Rosino said.

“I have lost a brother and a friend on earth,” he said, “but am sure I have gained an intercessor in heaven.”

“I am a second career vocation,” Father Bush told the Hawaii Catholic Herald in a 2018 interview. Of his earlier career managing a Hilo-based moving company, he said, “I was a person who could handle anything. And I was proud of that. I could take on anything; I could do it.”

“But then there also came a time when I couldn’t. And I went into a depression,” he said. “It was a blow to me. And in the depths of my depression, I found God. He lifted me up.”

“It profoundly changed my life. I decided to give my life over to the Lord. I asked the Lord if he was asking me to become a priest. He said, ‘I am not asking you, I am telling you.’ I said, ‘I am 36 years old. I lived a bad life.’”

Nevertheless, the diocese accepted him as a candidate for ordination.

Father Bush entered St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, California, in 1986, and was ordained a priest at age 42 on June 6, 1992.

Father Bush, who is of Hawaiian, English and Portuguese ethnicity, was born April 7, 1950, the son of George and Priscilla Bush. He has a brother, George, and a sister, Carol. Growing up on Oahu, he attended St. Anthony School in Kalihi and Maryknoll Grade School before enrolling at Saint Louis High School, graduating in 1968.

He went to Seattle University where he received his bachelor of arts degree. He then earned a master’s degree in sociology at the University of Hawaii.

After working about five years on the Big Island in the moving business, he returned to church and rekindled a childhood desire to become a priest.

Father Bush served as a parochial vicar or pastor at Sacred Hearts Parish in Naalehu, Big Island; Holy Rosary Parish in Pahala, Big Island; St. Joseph Parish, Hilo; Malia Puka O Kalani, Keaukaha, Big Island; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Ewa Beach, St. George Church, Waimanalo, and at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Honolulu.

He retired for health reasons on Jan. 1, 2018, and lived at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace rectory, assisting with sacramental duties when he could.

Father Scott said that in recent years, when faced with failing health, he would pray Jesus’ prayer — “Father, I place my life in your hands.”

For the former high-achiever, that surrender “became a source of serenity and peace.”

“All is good, because God is here,” he said. “And I am in God and God is with me. And I am at peace. I live life day-to-day as a precious gift, and I thank God for everything I have.”

Father Ryan’s funeral

Bishop Larry Silva will celebrate a Funeral Mass for Father Jack Ryan, who died Dec. 7, at 6 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace. It would have been his 71st birthday. Father Alapaki Kim will preach. The Mass will be livestreamed on the Cathedral’s Facebook page, since his two sisters, who live in Pennsylvania, will not be able to attend in person.