Catholics on Guam pray for peace amid threats by North Korea

IMAGE: CNS photo/Erik De Castro, Reuters

By Tony C. Diaz

HAGATNA, Guam (CNS) — The
Catholic Church on Guam is urging its members and all people on the island to be
prayerful and stay centered in Christ amid threats of missile attacks by North

Coadjutor Archbishop Michael J. Byrnes
of Agana asked all priests to promote prayers of peace at all Masses Aug. 13 as tensions continue, following threats by North Korea
dictator Kim Jong
to attack this American territory in the Marianas Islands.

“In your Masses this Sunday,
especially in the prayer of the faithful, please offer prayers for peace
between our nations, just resolution of differences, and prudence in both
speech and action,” Archbishop Byrnes said in a message to all priests of the Archdiocese
of Agana Aug. 11.

“Please also offer prayers for
the men and women of our military, especially those whom we host on Guam, that
they might find grace for diligence and courage as they execute their respective
duties,” he said.

Guam has long had a high strategic
military importance to the United States because of its location in the
Marianas Islands and has been home to several U.S. military bases for many
decades. B-52 bombers were regularly deployed from Andersen Air Force Base in
Guam during the Vietnam War in the 1960s and ’70s.

Residents of this predominantly Catholic
island community first woke up to the alarming news of North Korea threats to
Guam Aug. 9. The archdiocese issued a message to all Catholics and the
community in general that same day urging everyone to “stay grounded in the
peace of Christ.”

“Look to God during these
difficult times when world peace is threatened and pray always,” the
archdiocese said.

That message by Father Jeff San
Nicolas, the coadjutor archbishop’s delegate general, cited the Gospel of John: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I
give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts
be troubled or afraid.”

The archdiocese also echoed the
message of Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo asking everyone to remain calm and trust
that the security of the island is in good hands with local and national
defense forces in place to address such threats.

In his Aug. 11 message, Archbishop
Byrnes said, “Ever since being appointed the Coadjutor Archbishop of Agana, I
have been both struck and encouraged by Isaiah 33:2-6. … It speaks to our
current situation very well:

“O Lord, be gracious to us;
we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of
trouble. At the tumultuous noise peoples flee; when you lift yourself up,
nations are scattered, and your spoil is gathered as the caterpillar gathers; as
locusts leap, it is leapt upon. The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he
will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and he will be the stability of
your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord
is Zion’s treasure.”

“We have strong encouragement
from the Lord Jesus, to trust that our Father is the source of our salvation
both spiritually and practically,” the archbishop continued. “Jesus
is still on the throne, and we can be confident that He will work out his will
in every situation,” the archbishop also told the priests.”

He added, “We do not ‘put our
trust in princes, in mortal man in whom there is no help’ (Psalm 146:3). The Lord
himself is the source of our stability in any time.”

The archdiocese also encouraged
people to join an Aug. 13 rosary rally and pray for peace during a celebration
of the 100th year anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima in the capital of Hagatna.

The rally was organized by
Catholic laypeople as part of a worldwide call for praying the rosary in
the public square.

The Guam Homeland Security/Office
of Civil Defense planned to make a presentation on emergency preparedness
related to the North Korea threat for clergy, Catholic school administrators
and chancery staff Aug. 17.

The presentation had been
scheduled even before the threat by North Korea but the archdiocese asked that
it be held sooner because of current developments.

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