Above: Fireworks are set off at the inauguration of a new statue of the Virgin of the Socavon on Santa Barbara hill outside of Oruro, Bolivia, Feb. 1. (CNS photo/David Mercado, Reuters)

World’s largest Marian statue unveiled in Bolivia

La Paz, Bolivia (CNA) – The largest statue of the Virgin Mary in the world, dedicated to Our Lady of Socavon, was inaugurated at a Feb. 1 ceremony in the city of Oruro, Bolivia.
Rolando Rocha, the lead sculptor for the project, told reporters that more than simply “a work of engineering and art,” the monument “is an act of faith that strengthens our traditions.”
Towering at 149 feet, the statue is located on a 12,000-foot mountain south of La Paz, the country’s second largest city. It stands 22 feet taller than the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The statue’s unveiling ceremony was attended by both Bolivian president Evo Morales and Oruro mayor Rossio Pimentel.
Our Lady of Socavon is the patroness of miners. The original statue is kept at the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Socavon in the city of Oruro.
The presentation of the $1.2 million statue also marked the beginning of Carnaval in Orugo. The city’s festival is the only Carnaval celebration that includes a dance in honor of the Virgin Mary.
As residents of Oruro prepared for the annual candlelight procession to the Shrine of Socavon, Bishop Cristobal Bialasik issued a letter inviting those along the procession route to decorate their homes with sacred images and to listen to the diocesan broadcast of the event.
The closing procession, which took place on the evening of Feb. 3, featured nearly 50 dancers making their way to the shrine, where they asked the Virgin Mary for her intercession.

Colombian priest killed in continuing trend of violence

Bogotá, Colombia (CNA/EWTN News) – A cardinal in Colombia is mourning the recent murder of a local priest, which brings the clergy death toll in the country to 83 since 1984.

“Every murder is offensive, but the murder of a man who has dedicated his life to Christ and to the service of others causes special concern,” said Cardinal Ruben Salazar of Bogota, reacting to the murder.

Father Luis Alfredo Suarez Salazar was killed on Feb. 2 by two unknown assailants in the northern Colombian city of Ocana. The 50-year-old priest was visiting the city on vacation before planning to return to his home Diocese of Villavicencio.

According to police reports, Father Suarez was killed while helping his sister load items into her van. The two assailants fled on a motorcycle.

Father Suarez’s family said that he had not been the target of any threats and was known in the community for his humanitarianism and solidarity with those in need. According to media reports, he was anxious to return to Villavicencio to continue his ministry.

Cardinal Salazar warned that the problem of violence against clergy is a common one in Colombia.

“There are many threatened priests in all regions of the country, especially where there is armed conflict,” he said.

According to data from the Colombian bishops, more than 80 priests have been killed in the last three decades, along with five religious sisters, three religious brothers, three seminarians, one bishop and one archbishop.

In the same period of time, 17 bishops and 52 priests have received death threats.

Indiana Catholics mourn loss of Bishop D’Arcy

Fort Wayne, Ind. (CNA) – The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is mourning the death of its bishop emeritus, Bishop John D’Arcy, who led the diocese from 1985 until 2009.

“I am filled with deep sadness at the death of a dear friend and brother bishop. We mourn the death of a good shepherd after the heart of Christ, a bishop who loved the Lord and his people with all his heart,” said current bishop Kevin Rhoades Feb. 3.

Bishop D’Arcy was a priest and auxiliary bishop in Boston before he was appointed to Fort Wayne-South Bend.
Bishop Rhoades reflected, “He offered his prayers and sufferings this past month for the people he loved and served with joy and faithfulness these past 28 years in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. I invite all to join me in prayer for our deceased shepherd that God may bring Bishop D’Arcy to everlasting peace and rest.”

Pope appoints new leader for Portland archdiocese

Jan-30-2013 | 150 words | Topics: BISHOP APPOINTMENT, PORTLAND, ORE.

Portland, Ore. (CNA) – Pope Benedict named Bishop Alexander Sample of Marquette to shepherd the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon Jan. 29.

“I have always tried to be obedient to the will of God and to accept whatever the Church asks of me to be God’s will,” said Bishop Sample.

“It is in this spirit that I have said ‘yes’ to the Holy Father’s request for me to serve the Church in a new place in western Oregon.”

However, he said he is leaving Michigan’s Upper Peninsula “with a certain heaviness of heart.”

Archbishop Sample succeeds Archbishop John Vlazny, who submitted his resignation last year upon reaching the canonical age limit of 75.

His installation will take place April 2nd.

Archbishop Sample has been Bishop of Marquette since 2006. He was ordained a priest for that diocese in 1990, after studying at St. Thomas Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota and at the Josephinum in Columbus.