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Pope Francis to reunite with cousin on visit to Thailand



Pope Francis to reunite with cousin on visit to Thailand

In a remote Catholic school in Thailand, Sister Ana Rosa Sivori, 77, kneels in a chapel to pray at the beginning of the school day.

The Catholic nun is also counting down the days when she will be reunited with her cousin, Pope Francis.

Or, as she calls him, Jorge. They grew up together in Argentina, reports Reuters.

Sister Sivori, who has lived in Thailand for more than 50 years, will travel with Pope Francis when he visits from November 20 to 23.

“For me, it’s a pleasure that he’s coming … I never thought that he will be coming to Thailand,” the soft-spoken nun told Reuters in an interview.

“I’m happy for the people. I want the people to see him, to be close to him.”

The cousins, whose grandfathers were brothers, grew up in a big Catholic family in Argentina.

Sivori said they weren’t close as children, since Jorge Mario Bergoglio – as the Pope was known then – was six years older than she.

She joined the Catholic ministry young, and her calling as a missionary brought her to Thailand, where she has lived since 1966 and worked in schools across the country.

Now, she is a vice principal at St. Mary’s School in the northeastern province of Udon Thani, about 600 km (370 miles) from Bangkok, the capital.

The cousins have grown closer since Bergoglio became Pope Francis in 2013.

On every journey home to her family in Argentina, Sivori first stops by the Vatican in Italy to see him for a few days.

The last time they saw each other was in 2018, when they bonded over their love of books.

“He took me up to the big room with plenty of books. He told me to choose, he would ask ‘Do you want this one?’,” she said.

“When we talk, we feel like brother and sister. For me, of course I know that he’s the Pope … but we talk simply.”

She will travel to Bangkok ahead of the pontiff’s arrival and shadow him during his visit, at his request.

In the Buddhist-majority country, Pope Francis will meet King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the supreme Buddhist patriarch, Catholic leaders and students, before flying on to Japan.

Sivori brings out an envelope of handwritten letters and postcards from the Vatican and reads them fondly.

“When I meet him, I’ll call him by his name, Jorge. Pope Francis just came after,” she said.

“I’m proud of him.”

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1 Comment

  1. Brice Fabry

    December 11, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    I discovered your blog site on google and check a few of your early posts. Continue to keep up the very good operate. I just additional up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking forward to reading more from you later on!?

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Lagos Secretariat Mosque tasks Muslims on trust



Lagos Secretariat Mosque tasks Muslims on trust

The Management of Lagos Secretariat Community Central Mosque (LSCCM) has called on all Nigerians particularly those entrusted with public funds to manage the resources with fear of Allah, saying everyone will give account of his stewardship.

Speaking at the Annual General meeting of the mosque held at the Lagos State Secretariat Mosque Multi-purpose Hall, Alausa,  the Executive Council Chairman, Dr. Afolabi Abiodun Tajudeen, who gave the charge while rendering account of his stewardship in the management of the mosque’s resources, said Allah would question everyone entrusted with public funds.

Tajudeen commended the past and present commissioners of Ministry of home affairs for their innumerable contributions to the progress and development of the mosque, adding that the job that the Secretariat community places on the exco is enormous, tasking and quiet challenging.

But he said: “Despite the challenges, members of the EXCO were highly determined and prepared to confront the job head-on and triumph. Alhamdulillah with Allah’s guidance and support we have been able to record credible achievements worth reporting and celebrating. It just a third of the journey as we still have two more years to strategically deliver, meet and surpass your expectations in sha Allah.

“Having hit the ground running immediately after our inauguration on 27th September 2018, we put in place strategic plans and ensured compliance with underground rules that are sacrosanct for attainment of our laudable objectives for the Mosque. The strategic thinking and brainstorming sessions, though stressful, have yield satisfactory results.

He noted that the exco institionalised prudence, economic and judicious use of Mosque resources to exclusion of all forms of financial indiscipline, wastage and environmental infractions.

“It pertinent at this junction to add that as part of the Exco commitment to cost cutting strategy and additional dedication, all refreshment for servicing the meetings were donated on rational basis by members, who also resolved in their little capacity to forfeit allowances occurring to them from stipends received from the office of the Chief of Staff to further boost the monthly revenue of the Mosque.

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NAHCON: Why NSCIA, JNI nominees’ names missing from Buhari’s list



NAHCON: Why NSCIA, JNI nominees’ names missing from Buhari’s list

The names of representatives of Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and the Jammatul Nasiru Islam (JNI) were missing on the list of 16 nominees sent for the National HGajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON’s) by President Muhammadu Buhari to the Senate based on delay to submit those names b y the two major Islamic organizations. 

President had on Monday submitted the list for Senate approval pursuant to Section 3 Sub-section 2 of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) Act 2006.

The Senate, he noted, “may wish to note the names of representatives of the Jammatul Nasiru Islam and the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs will be sent to the Senate subsequently.”

Meanwhile, the list of the nominees as contained in a letter addressed to the President of Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan and read at plenary, reads; “I am pleased to forward for confirmation by the Senate the under-listed names of nominees for the positions of Chairman and members of the NAHCON.

“This nominees are: Sikiru Hassan, representing Osun, South-West- Chairman; Abdullahi Magaji, Executive Commissioner, Operation Inspection and Licensing, Bauchi ,North-East; Nura Yakassai, Executive Commissioner, Policy, Personnel Management and Finance, Kano -North West; Momoh Imonike, Executive Commissioner, Planning, Research, Statistics, Information and Library, Edo, South-South and Halima Jibril, (Mrs), part-time member, representing Niger, North-Central.

“Other part-time members are Abba Jatto, Bornu, North East; Garba Umar, Sokoto,North-West; Ibrahim Ama, Ebonyi South-East; Sadiku Musa, Delta, South-South and Akintunde Olayinka(Mrs) Ogun, South West.

“Others are representatives of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which includes: Shehu Dogo, Ministry of Aviation, Nura Abbarimi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rabiu Isa, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

“Others are Zainab Sheriff, Ministry of Health, Aminu Yerima, Nigerian Immigration Service(NIS) and Ibrahim Ishaku, representing Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN).

“The Senate may wish to note the names of representatives of the Jammatul Nasiru Islam and the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs will be sent to the Senate subsequently.

“While I look forward to the usual expeditious consideration and confirmation by the Senate, please accept distinguished Senate President, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

Meanwhile, political players in the country have been advised to de-emphasise material wealth as a criterion for eligibility for political offices.

The Muslim Ummah of South-West Nigeria (MUSWEN) gave the advice in a communique after its fourth General Assembly held recently in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

The umbrella body of Muslims and Muslim organisations in the south-western part of Nigeria also charged the faithful who belong in the various political parties in the land to set aside their differences and unite in the pursuit of matters relating to Islam and national development.

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Pilgrims to pay N1.5m deposit each as countdown to 2020 Hajj begins



Pilgrims to pay N1.5m deposit each  as countdown to 2020 Hajj begins

Intending pilgrims for 2020 Hajj are to pay a deposit of between N1 million and N1.5 million deposit each as countdown to the operations begins.

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), New Telegraph gathered, has begun the allocation of quota to pilgrims boards in 36 states across the Federation.

Jigawa State Pilgrims Welfare Board, which confirmed the allocation, noted that it secured 1,472 hajj seats from the National hajj commission for 2020 hajj exercise.

Each of the pilgrim, he said, is to pay a deposit of between N1 million and N1.5 million, pending the official announcement of the fares by NAHCON.

Fielding questions from newsmen in Dutse, the state capital, the Director Operations of the state’s pilgrims welfare Board, Ahmed Labbo, maintained that the board had already distributed the seats to 27 Local Government Areas of the State for sale to prospective intending pilgrims in the state.

The state Governor Muhammad Badaru has authorized the board to commence the 2020 hajj preparations, he said.

The materials for the work, Labo added, were distributed to zonal offices for the preparation of the hajj exercise,

“N1.million to N1.5 million has been proposed as hajj deposit for the state’s intending pilgrims pending the announcement of next year’s hajj fare by the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON),” the Director Operations pointed out.

Pilgrims from the state are allowed to pay the proposed initial deposit through the thirteen zonal officer’s of the state pilgrims welfare board, he said pilgrims shouldn’t pay money to any individual or group, Mr Labbo said.

Meanwhile, the Oyo State government has warned intending pilgrims in the state and their coordinators to be wary of fraudsters.

Chairman of the state pilgrims’ welfare board (Muslim wing), Professor Sayed Malik, gave this warning while briefing newsmen in his office at the Hajj Camp, Olodo, Ibadan.

Malik hinged this warning on complaints from intending pilgrims concerning registration for the next hajj exercise.

He stated that the board did not give any condition different from the existing ones for the registration and did not authorise any individual or organisation to collect hajj fare on its behalf.

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MS Muslim students demand education funding’s monitoring



MS Muslim students demand education funding’s monitoring

The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) has charged government at all levels to provide adequate funding for the education sector and monitor such funding so as to ensure its optimal use by the benefiting schools and higher institutions.

The body gave the charge in a communique after its 2019 annual national conference held at the conference hall of the University of Ibadan central mosque.

The conference also featured the second edition of the National Conference of Muslim Students in Secondary Schools (NACOMSISS) and national quiz and debate themed ‘Nigeria Muslim Youth and Contemporary Challenges: Towards a New Education Strategy’.

According to the communique, the aim of the programme was to build the capacity of secondary school students, curtail the menace of the examination malpractice and encourage moral uprightness, family values, patriotism and unity among the ummah.

The MSSN urged teachers to take the issue of computer training beyond mere theory in government and privately owned schools and engage the students in practical trainings such as desktop publishing.

It decried the increasing rate of examination malpractice among students and urged the government to set up a task force to monitor and moderate activities of tutorial centres and extramural classes assisting this cause.

The body also joined the call on the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) management to reconsider its position on the expulsion of two Christian corps members from Ebonyi State camps on account of their religion’s way of dressing.

The MSSN, which called on the political class to be accountable to the people, underlined the need for the government to pass a bill that “exerts serious punishment on looters rather than recommending killing for hate speech.”

Urging the government to prevail on management of schools which deprive and often chastise female Muslim students for wearing hijab on their uniform, the MSSN described wearing of hijab by female Muslims as a religious obligation which enjoys the backing of the constitution  “as an inalienable right.”

It urged the government to go beyond rhetoric in addressing insecurity of lives and properties of Nigerians and urged religious leaders in the country to enlighten their followers about godliness and issues that promote the unity of the country.

In his address, the national president of the MSSN, Dr Taofeeq Yekinni, said the rationale behind the annual programme was to re-enact the culture of educational competitions which, according to him, has been downplayed in the Nigerian public education sector, among secondary school students.

He said the programme provided an avenue to develop the students’ potentialities in competitive skills.

The grand finale held on Saturday featured the final round of the debate competition, prize giving and a keynote address by the special guest of honour, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.

Other dignitaries at the occasion include the chairman of the Muslim Community of Oyo State, Alhaji Ishaq Kunle Sanni; the chairman of the University of Ibadan Muslim community, Professor Yahya Kuta; the Chief Imam of UI Central Mosque, Professor Abdur-Rrahman Oloyede; Professor Wole Abbas and Alhaji Femi Abbas.

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Sex abuse case: Two priests in Argentina sentenced to more than 40 years



Sex abuse case: Two priests in Argentina sentenced to more than 40 years

An Argentine court on Monday convicted two Roman Catholic priests and the former gardener of a church-run school for deaf students in the province of Mendoza on 28 counts of sexual abuse and corruption of minors.

Priests Nicola Corradi and Horacio Corbacho were sentenced to 42 and 45 years in prison, respectively, while the school employee, Armando Gomez, got 18 years. The sentencings by Judges Carlos Diaz, Mauricio Juan and Anibal Crivelli of the Collegiate Criminal Court No. 2 were live streamed in Argentina.

The sentences cannot be appealed. The accusations against the three had been made by more than 20 alumni of Mendoza’s Antonio Provolo Institute for the deaf, reports Reuters.

Monday marked three years since the first complaints in the case were announced.

Earlier this month an Argentine prosecutor requested the arrest of a Roman Catholic bishop after officials said he ignored repeated calls and emails relating to an investigation of sex abuse allegations against him.

The bishop, Gustavo Zanchetta, had been living in Vatican City, where he previously held a position in a church financial department, according to the prosecutor’s office.

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2020 Hajj: NAHCON begins license pre-qualification for service providers



2020 Hajj: NAHCON begins license pre-qualification for service providers

…brings scheme to Nigeria for first time in 8 years


The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), has, for the First time, Inaugurated Hajj  Committee to Pre-qualify Licensing of Service Providers well ahead of time as a way of fast tracking 2020 Hajj Operation.

This, the commission said, is in 8 years the first time the it is conducting this assignment in Nigeria not Saudi Arabia.

“This is because the process is entirely digitalized, thereby saving cost and consolidating new dawn of transparency and prudence in efficient & effective Hajj Service delivery,” NAHCON said in a document sighted by New Telegraph.

The Committee was inaugurated by NAHCON  Acting Chairman/Chief Executive Officer Barrister Abdullahi Mukhtar Muhammad at Hajj House Abuja.

Some of the Terms of Reference of the Committee are to practically harness  resource management and eliminate allegations of corruption, to give opportunity to States to have list of companies ready for Inspection and negotiations; and to list names of service providers in Makkah, Madinah and Holy Sites (Masha’er).

Other reasons according to the commission are to Evaluate the documents and confirm integrity of the companies; to ensure no any litigation against any state with NAHCON or Saudi Arabian Authorities; to ensure the companies have valid documents and authorization to conduct this type of business with Nigerian Pilgrims in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The acting Chairman urged the Committee to be guided by fear of God and Pilgrims’ trust in order to secure best services in strict adherence to standards.

The Operations Commissioner Abdullahi Modibbo Saleh, introduced the Committee members.

Director Muhammad Hammajoda is to chair the eleven-member committee and he said they will conduct the job diligently and submit report immediately.

FCT, Oyo and Zamfara states will represent States Pilgrims Welfare Agencies, Boards and Commissions.

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Yobe gov offers cars, Hajj slots to winners of Qur’an recitation contest



Yobe state governor, Mai Mala Buni, has donated cars and hajj slots to the winners of the Qur’an recitation competition organized by the Yobe State Arabic and Islamic Education Board in the state.

The winners, according to a report, also went home with other prizes and gifts.

The competition, it was gathered, drew participants from all the 17 local government areas of the state and the winners will represent the state at the national Qur’an recitation competition scheduled to hold in Lagos soon.

Maina Mohammed from Machina Local Government Area was the overall winner in the complete Qur’an and Tajweed, male category.

Malama Halima from Damaturu Local Government Area clinched the first position in the female category with each winner receiving a new Toyota car and an offer to perform hajj from the governor.

Governor Buni, who represented by his deputy, Idi Gubana, at the closing ceremony of the event, advised Muslims to always consider investing in the cause of Allah by rendering services for the good of humanity.

“We should also, as good Muslims, continue to associate ourselves with the noble ideals of the religion by spending our wealth in the promotion of all that is good and beneficial to the larger society and abhorring all that is forbidden,” he said.

The governor charged the winners of the competition to work even harder as they represent the state in the forthcoming national Qur’an recitation competition so that they could have a chance to represent the country at the international level.

“Your impressive performance would, therefore, inspire the upcoming generations and from there, our dream of becoming one of the most respected Islamic centres of learning would be realised.

“As for those participants who could not make it to the national level, I would like to urge them to take heart and work harder for the future,” he said.

The Executive Secretary, Arabic and Islamic Education Board, Mohammed Gujba, thanked the governor for his support which led the successful completion of the competition.

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Faithful jostle for selfies as Pope Francis begins visit to Thailand



Faithful jostle for selfies as Pope Francis begins visit to Thailand

Pope Francis arrived in Thailand on Wednesday to meet with its small but devoted Catholic minority on a seven-day Asian trip that will include a family reunion in Bangkok and take his anti-nuclear message to Japan.

Waiting for a glimpse of the pontiff, excited Catholics thronged around the Vatican’s Bangkok embassy and St. Louis Hospital to take selfies.

“Once in a lifetime, I want to see him and be able receive prayer from him,” said 60-year-old Orawan Thongjamroon outside the Vatican embassy, where she had been waiting since early morning for the papal motorcade, reports Reuters.

Catholics are a tiny minority in mostly Buddhist Thailand, accounting for less than 2% of the population.

The pope’s plane touched down outside Bangkok around midday and he descended to a red-carpet airport welcome from church leaders for a visit that coincides with the 350th anniversary of the first papal mission in Siam, the former name of Thailand.

Among those welcoming him was his cousin and childhood friend from Argentina, 77-year-old nun Sister Ana Rosa Sivori, who has worked in Thai schools for more than 50 years and will be the pope’s personal translator in Thailand.

The pair, whose grandfathers were brothers, beamed as they made their way over the tarmac through crowds of clergy, children and government officials to a waiting motorcade.

“Dear friends in Thailand and Japan, before we meet, let us pray together that these days may be rich in grace and joy,” read a message on the pontiff’s official Twitter account before he left the Vatican.

At Bangkok’s St. Louis Church, a Thai Catholic woman proudly showed photographs of her and Pope Francis from a visit she made to the Vatican with her husband.

“I never thought that I would have another chance to see him again,” said Nuchnaree Praresri, 49.

But when she was invited to be a cleaner at St. Louis Church for the papal visit, she seized the opportunity.

“This might not be an important role for others, but I’m very proud,” she said.

Catholicism first arrived in Thailand in the mid-1500s with Portuguese missionaries and traders, and Catholics have over the years built respected schools and hospitals.

Pope Francis begins his official program on Thursday when he is scheduled to meet King Maha Vajiralongkorn as well as the supreme Buddhist patriarch before offering mass at the National Stadium.

He will hold another mass at Bangkok’s Assumption Cathedral before leaving on Saturday for Japan, where he will visit the nuclear ground zeros of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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Noise pollution: Muslim group backs LASG’s clamp down on churches, mosques



Noise pollution: Muslim group backs LASG’s clamp down on churches, mosques

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has thrown its weight behind the war against noise pollution being waged by the Lagos State Government.

On Sunday, Lagos closed down eight worship centres across the state for contravening environmental pollution regulations.

Dr Dolapo Fasawe, General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), who led the exercise, said that there would be no hiding place for any religious organisation which failed to operate within the ambit of the law, regardless of their faith.

However, in a statement released Monday by MURIC Director, Ishaq Akintola, he disclosed that his office had received several complaints and petitions from many residents and associations across the state against some religious centres, clubs, hotels and so on

But he said: “We in MURIC back LASG’s move one hundred percent. There is an urgent need to inject a heavy dose of sanity in some religious centres in particular. The Lagos environment has been bastardised by tramadolised religiosity. Decorum is no longer respected in the way people preach.

“They raise noise level to the highest decibel and traumatize the neighbourhood. Dusk to dawn services rob Lagosians of sleep as preachers scream to high heaven.

“Worse still, the champions of articulated proselytisation take over commercial vehicles in the daytime preaching from one destination to another and making it impossible for the drivers to concentrate. This is not allowed in sane societies. It is a mark of religious fanaticism.

“The noisy night vigils and preaching inside commercial vehicles have been partly responsible for road accidents as motorists deprived of sleep and proper rest at night often doze off at the steering wheel, killing innocent Lagosians.

“In addition, noise pollution has been party responsible for poor academic performance among students as they find it difficult to study in an acrobatically religionised environment.

“Furthermore, this gymnastic spirituality has been responsible for the death of many sick Lagosians while the illness of several others have deteriorated due to their inability to get proper rest in their homes. We note with great interest that Lagos has been paying attention to this social cankerworm over the years.

“We therefore hail LASG for being consistent in the war against environmental pollution. We urge the Ministry of Environment to fight the battle resiliently no matter whose ox is gored. We advise all mosques in the state to obey the rules on noise pollution or face the music.

“Except on Friday during the khutbah (sermon), mosques should switch off their public address systems after the call to prayer (adhan). Other irrelevant messages are for those inside the mosque, not for those in their private homes. Lagosians reserve the right to enjoy their privacy. Your own rights stop where those of others begin.

“As we take a break, we charge LASEPA to visit the full wrath of the law on any mosque or church that violates the noise pollution law. There should be no sacred cows. People who refuse to do things properly do a lot of harm to society.

“We advise the commissioner to dust up his files and step up the petitions. Offenders will not take LASEPA serious unless action is taken against them. It is all in the interest of a better society.”

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2019 Hajj: 3,500 pilgrims get N36.58m refund for poor, unrendered services



2019 Hajj: 3,500 pilgrims get N36.58m refund for poor, unrendered services

3,500 Nigerian pilgrims from the 2019 Hajj have been reimbursed with N36.582 million for services that are poorly rendered or not rendered to them during the operations.

The pilgrims, checks by New Telegraph showed, are from Kaduna state, NorthWest Nigeria.

The Kaduna state pilgrims board, a report by Hajjreporters read, confirmed the commencement of the payment of the sum of N10,452,32k each to over 3, 500 pilgrims that performed the 2019 hajj from the state.

The Head of Operation, Kaduna State Muslim Pilgrims Board, Alhaji Sani Dalhatu Musa, who confirmed this, added that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) had already given the refund to the state’s Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board.

“We are starting refund tomorrow and each pilgrim will receive 10,452,32k as the refund of service not rendered which NAHCON has refunded to us,” he said.

Meanwhile, the national hajj commission of Nigeria has released the pilgrim’s registration guidelines for both states Muslim pilgrim’s welfare boards and Tour Operators pilgrim for 2020 hajj.

The new guidelines are to serve as direction for the sales of hajj seat to intending pilgrims that will perform the 2020 hajj seats.

According to NAHCON, “the guidelines were issued with a view to have an effective pilgrim’s database so as to maintain an adequate information system and proper coordination of Nigeria pilgrims in line with the commissions’ mandate”.

Part of the conditions spelt out to private travel operators by the commissions states that “All licensed tour  operators must provide registration centres in their offices and that such registration must be carried out within working hours.”

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