Change of address: Subscriber tells of service in Iraq

WEST ROXBURY— Change of address forms are common for newspapers. However, when a subscriber contacted us to forward his subscription to Iraq, a Pilot staffer took notice.

Having subscribed periodically for the past several years, Specialist Charles Grillo, a member of the 1058 Transportation Company of The Massachusetts Army National Guard, forwarded his subscription to Iraq during his 14-month deployment, in order to keep up-to-date with the happenings throughout the Archdiocese of Boston.

"This has been a difficult time for the archdiocese, and I wanted to stay in contact, to know what was going on," he commented during a recent interview.

Grillo, 29, arrived back on American soil on April 23 after serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"I'm proud to have served for the United States of America under our flag," said Grillo. "We've put our country and our mission [to free Iraq] ahead of our personhood, and I'm proud of that."

"My number one hope is that democracy will be upheld in Iraq, that life will be fair and equitable for every citizen," he said. "If we can make this happen in Iraq, then maybe the other Middle Eastern countries will realize that this is good for humankind."

A cradle Catholic, Grillo believes his faith helped form his life and guided him to serve his country.

As a young child growing up in Brighton, Grillo served countless Masses as an altar boy at Our Lady of the Presentation Parish. When Grillo was 12, he asked Cardinal Bernard Law if he could become an altar boy at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. Two weeks later, at the annual Chrism Mass, Grillo proudly began his service as altar boy at the cathedral, a position he held for over three years.

"It was through that experience that I realized that there was a higher calling that I had to reach out to -- both for the Church and for our country," he said.

In order to “make his mark on the community,” he enlisted in the Army Reserves. Four years later, he transferred to the National Guard. Although he has served his country for 10 years, his deployment to Iraq was the first time his unit was called to active duty.

When, in February 2003, his unit was called up to begin the mobilization process, Grillo recalls it was “enduring for everyone involved.”

"We didn't have months, weeks or days to get prepared -- we had hours," he stated.

Arriving at Fort Drum, N.Y., Grillo and his unit were given gas masks, the necessary series of vaccinations and issued desert camouflage uniforms. Thirty days later, they arrived in Iraq, where the heat “felt like a blow dryer in your face 24-seven.”

Initially, Grillo’s unit was responsible for the transport of supplies and troops operating between Kuwait and Iraq for the 1st Armored Division and the 3rd Infantry Division. However, as the search for Saddam Hussein intensified, his unit was transferred to Tikrit, and the mission became that of protecting convoys from guerilla attacks.

"We had to convert our transport trucks into gun trucks. We even had to cut the wood ourselves," he said.

Ultimately, his unit provided support in the capturing of Hussein, which resulted in his unit receiving “a formal wartime service combat patch” in January 2004.

Grillo recalls that day proudly. “That was a day that the reserve guard and the active component stood side by side and were both commended for a job well done,” he remarked.

"Our number one mission was to bring everyone home safely. We did that with valor, with integrity and with a sense of family," declared Grillo.

"We really were a family out there," he reiterated.

Now that he has returned to his West Roxbury home, Grillo continues to pray for the “many men and women who are still there doing an outstanding job,” as well as for their families anxiously awaiting their safe arrival. However, he believes his time as a reservist is over.

"As a public servant and a community servant, I've done my duty for my country. Now I need to turn my attention to my community," he said, alluding to his current position as constable for the state and private detective, a venture he had begun before his deployment.

In addition, he hopes to “work as a part of the community to rebuild the Church from within.”

"Everyone has to act as a whole. If you act alone, you tend to fail. But if you act as a whole, then very little harm can come to you," he added.

Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...